Peter Aguero has some “Daddy Issues.” And don’t we all?
His solo show could be one of the highlights of the 16th annual Rogue Festival, which kicks off Friday in the Tower District for a two-weekend run featuring theater, music, dance, stand-up comedy and more.
Aguero, a host and performer on the nationally syndicated public radio show “The Moth Radio Hour,” is a New York City storyteller coming to Fresno’s fringe festival for the first time.
His show (8 p.m. March 3, 5 p.m. March 4, 9:30 p.m. March 5, 8 p.m. March 9, 5 p.m. March 11, Vista Theatre, 1296 N. Wishon Ave., tickets $10) is a series of stories that reflect the tumultuous relationship he’s had with and without his father.
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“Some of it is sad, some of it is funny, but it’s all true,” he says. “It touches on the nature of memory, the possibilities of love and forgiveness over time, and the spectre of masculinity that affects anyone in a relationship with a father.”
We caught up with Aguero to talk about “Daddy Issues.”
Q: You’re upfront about your parents and how they fought a lot. Is brutal honesty a key to a good story?
A: I feel that honesty is at the heart of a good story, brutal or not. My theory on personal first-person stories is rooted deeply in the emotional truth of the relationship or event. Everyone has led varied lives, but the truth of our stories is about our fear and our love and our anger and our joy. These are the things that make stories universal, even when they’re not about a shared experience.
I feel that my responsibility is to the story and I would be doing the story a disservice if I deflected from the uncomfortable feelings that I’ve had in a given situation. If I can be as honest as I can with the feelings of a former version of myself, I can hope to make a connection with someone that lived through a similar moment, or someone who had felt the same way at some point in their life. If you can look at the canvas and the frame, you should also peek at the back of the painting to be able to get the whole picture.
Q: How has “The Moth Radio Hour” changed the storytelling scene in the U.S.?
A: People have been telling stories since the beginning of time. Everyone has heard stories from the people in their life. The Moth Radio Hour has been one of the great ways that stories can be heard by so many people that wouldn’t have heard them otherwise, simply due to geography. When you hear stories, you get inspired to share, or at least reflect on, your own. The more stories heard the better. I think that’s the only path to real truth of our shared lives on this planet. Independent groups have popped up all over the world, just to share stories. I heard about a Moth-style event that was held at the only bar in Antarctica. That’s the power of radio. It’s still holding on.
Q: I watched your “Daddy Issues” preview trailer, and I could listen to you talk for days. (A New York Times critic described yours as “a voice like velvet and beer.” When did you first know you had a star storyteller’s voice?
A: I’d have to give all the credit to whiskey and cigarettes. My wife told me the other day that she knew I was on the phone two rooms away because she could feel my voice resonating in her chest through our apartment. I don’t know, man. I have broken three microphones from just speaking into them. They were cheap microphones, but if that makes me a star, I’ll take it.
Q: Anything to add?
A: I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Rogue audiences from other performers on the Fringe circuit. I’m really looking forward to escaping NYC for a bit to talk to you folks during the festival. Come alone, or bring your dad. It’s probably best that you don’t bring MY dad to the show. It would be awkward.
Rogue at a glance
- Number of performers: 50
- Number of venues: 8
- Number of performances: 300
- Teaser show: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 2, Tower Theatre. $10.
- Festival: March 3-5 and 8-11.
- Tickets: $5-12, available online and at the door. All attendees also need a Rogue wristband (one-time purchase of $3).
- Details: www.roguefestival.com.