After a 2 years term, Barbara Coy-Hogan has stepped down as Festival Director for Rogue Festival. The Rogue Performance Fresno board voted in Heather Parish as the new Festival Director. Barbara is very excited to have Heather as her successor. A brief interview was scheduled and Heather answered some of Barbara’s questions about the transition.
1. Tell us about your background with performing arts and Fresno’s theatre community.
I discovered theater at the age of 19 when my therapist told me to “get a life” (essentially). So I did. I started out in lighting design and stage management in college and eventually branched out into performing and producing. After university, I did an internship in stage management in London and then returned to the Valley. In 2006, I moved up to Fresno and began working with the Woodward Shakespeare Festival. I served as a stage manager, lighting designer, costumer, production organizer, and then the Artistic Director of WSF for several seasons out at the Park.
Since that time, I founded an independent theater company based in the Tower District called The New Ensemble. TNE has produced eleven black-box plays and 10 free play readings for the community since 2010 and we continue to mount 1-2 productions a year in the Tower District.
2. What are your hobbies and passions in life?
I always say I have my job, my art, and my hobby. They seem like separate things, but in so many ways they overlap and feed each other. I work at an independent publishing company organizing business matters, helping authors with social media, and generally supporting book production. I have a side hustle helping artists with various publicity tasks to help them get the word out about what they do.
My art is where much of my passion resides and that is with theater, writing, and storytelling in all of its forms. Anything that allows one human to connect to another in a meaningful way is a story in and of itself, and I’m passionate about all of its forms. But I’m especially passionate about that ephemeral connection that happens when artist and audience connect.
My hobby is where my mind slips sideways into a bit of whimsy - I dabble in historical costuming, sewing, and I read a lot of classic literature. My friends and I produce events for historical costuming and dancing usually once a year or so.
3. How long have you been part of Rogue Festival? In what capacities?
My first Rogue Festival experience was in 2007. I directed an original play spoken all in iambic pentameter called “All’s Red That’s Riding Hood” by Terrance Mc Arthur. It was a mash up of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Shakespeare tropes. The first line of the review by Donald Munro at The Fresno Bee said “I absolutely cannot recommend “All’s Red”. . . “. Ouch! I’ve since been panned by him a few times, but luckily they’ve been balanced by some good reviews, too. The overall Rogue experience was great, though, and I started taking a harder look at independent performance. I believe my experience with Rogue Festival led directly to the founding of The New Ensemble.
Since then I’ve performed several times in Rogue Shows and I’ve been Rogue’s Publicity Manager for performers and print media for two years now.
4. What is the wildest thing you’ve done for or during Rogue Festival?
I drank three of Veni Vidi Vici’s Stockholm Royales while performing a reading of Imaginary Friends at Rogue in 2010. The first I bought for myself. The other two magically appeared from audience members during the show, and I was pretty hammered at the end of the 45 minute reading. Apparently, I’m charmingly biting while drunk, so it worked for the show. (I’ve never tried to repeat the experience.)
5. What prompted you to apply for Festival Director of Rogue Festival?
The mission of the Rogue Festival to bring artists to audiences with exciting works that go beyond the norm is absolutely critical to the Fresno arts community. I believe in it. And I also believe in the community that surrounds Rogue - from the artists who prepare and present their work to Fresno to the volunteers who take tickets, work the venues, and assist with the events . . . the community built around this Festival is passionate, involved, and enthusiastic. That’s worth getting to know better and that’s worth maintaining. I’m stimulated by the challenge and I’m excited to learn more of what this community can teach me.
6. What are some of your goals as Festival Director?
The Rogue has had a great several years of building momentum. I’m looking forward to expanding our outstanding group of volunteers and deepening ties with our audiences. Rogue’s core mission is about helping artists present their work and helping audiences find new, exciting art. More than anything, we’re looking to invest our energy in this core mission and doing it as well as we possibly can.
Connecting Art, Artist, and Audience is something I have a passion for and Rogue Festival has a great history with that. Let’s keep that focus and keep moving ahead!
The Fresno Bee’s story on the change in leadership at the Rogue Festival.