The Riant Theatre (Van Dirk Fisher, Artistic Director) -- the AUDELCO Award-Winning nonprofit, which provides a nurturing environment for playwrights and theatre creatives of diverse cultural backgrounds to develop new plays, presents some of the Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival.
The first play in Program C is A Two Hundred Dollar Rhinoceros by Richard Lobel.Mr. Lobel, when not practicing law, writes plays, short fiction and the occasional magazine article. He has previously performed stand-up in New York City at a host of comedy clubs including Carolines, Stand Up New York, Comic Strip Live and Gotham Comedy Club, sharing the stage with such talents as Chris Rock and Jim Gaffigan. Mr. Lobel made his playwriting debut at the Strawberry One Act Festival, where his play, A Two Hundred Dollar Rhinoceros,was a Best Play Award Nominee.
The play is about Adam, a privileged and idealistic college student living on the Upper West Side and Chance, a grizzled, weary homeless man who sells elaborate sculptures made from wire hangers on West 79th Street. Adam strikes up a conversation with Chance, starting with an offer to buy one of his sculptures. As they talk further, Adam is intrigued by Chance's story and interviews him for a journalism class. What begins as a lighthearted encounter evolves into something more as Adam learns about what drove Chance to the streets. The play celebrates engagement and a relationship between people who typically would never even meet. The cast includes: Lucas Max as Adam, Royston Scott as Chance and Rew Starr as Stella. Richard Charles Mueller, won the Best Director Award for this play.
Best Play Award Nominee Not That Illegal by Yusuf Yildiz,which tackles the Hot Topic: Immigration, in which Ali Can, a Turkish immigrant, is forced to end his 10-year long journey in the U.S. due to unfortunate events. He convinces his best friend to help him with a highly risky plan to trick his arch-nemesis USCIS. Find out how USCIS's nerve-racking interview turns into a hilarious journey. The cast includes: Dylan Combs(Don John in Much Ado About Nothing, Laertes in Hamlet), Joshua R. Pyne(Dr. Jared Katz in Hanging Cow's The Accidental Awakening and Sheriff Grace in Toady Hoad) and Yusuf Yildiz. Not That Illegal is directed by Ayse Eldek-Richardson (Emre Ozpirincci’s The New Yorkers and Ayse Eldek’s Bald Boy The Musical). Mr. Yildiz moved to the United States after spending 20 plus years filled with mathematics and science in Turkey. He secretly kept writing love poems while his classmates tried to prove the Riemann hypothesis. Everything in his life changed once he stepped on stage as a thespian.
Aaron Smallwood Jr., the recipient of the Best Actor Award for his role as the Old Man in Two Good Dogs by Anthony Roesch, is his happy to reprise his role. His credits include, film: Suspicion
(Austin Film Festival), In/Finite
(Amazon Prime); Television: Elvis Lives Here (Ep 318), and Theatre: Hurt Village (The Acting Studio), Bros From the Bottom (The Acting Studio), and Lazarus (Hudson Guild Theater). Two Good Dogs is about two homeless people who sit by the Chicago River discussing life, racism, love, loss and two good dogs. The cast is rounded out by Valarie Donaldson Best Actress Award Nomineeas the Old Woman, and Amy Stapleton as The Young Woman. Adriana Alter, Best Director Award Nominee, has
extensive directorial and dramaturgical experience including work with the Secret Theatre, Hip to Hip Theatre Company, Chelsea Rep/The Acting Studio, Nicu’s Spoon Theater Company, Identity Theater Company, Royal Family Productions, and Hartford Stage. Favorite recent projects include the world premiere of Bridges and Overpasses, also by Anthony Roesch! Mr. Roesch is also a fiction writer and has published stories appearing in Inkwell Journal and Tampa Review, and has been a Top-25 finalist in Glimmer Train’s
Fiction Open and Very Short Story Competitions.
We are happy to present the Best Play Award winning play Leaves by Victor Vaban, Jr., who also directed the play, is an actor and a former circus performer, who is in love with the art of writing. Born and raised in Brazil, Mr. Vauban became a bonafide circus performer at the age of fifteen after attending the Nacional Circus School in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a circus performer he was able to travel the world and experience up close different cultures and witness all the diversity and beauty put in this world for us to enjoy, preserve and learn from. Mr. Vauban seeks in August Wilson, Anne Thompson-Scretching, Tennessee Williams, Franz Kafka, Susan Lori Park, and James Baldwin the inspiration to create a body of work that will move audiences in ways that will sparkle the need to reflect and take action when it comes to ways to better our community and the world.
The cast of Leaves includes: Antonia Badon, Best Actress Awardwinner for her role as Muriel in Leaves. Ms. Badon is from New Orleans and is a radio On-Air Personality at WHCR 90.3 FM The Voice of Harlem. Her show Renaissance Travels is on Sundays at 4:30pm-5:30pm. Rounding out the cast is Patricia Fields as Benita, Shai Shockley as Verna and Benjamin Rowe as Curtis. In Leaves, Muriel and her two sisters had dreams of becoming the new musical sensation just like, "The Supremes" - but fate intervene. Muriel fell in love and married her college sweetheart, Curtis, putting an end to the girl group's dreams. Over thirty-years later the two sisters still resent the premature dissolution of the group blaming it on their so-called- good for nothing brother-in-law.
Screening of the Video Diaries Project, A series of short films about the artists in the Strawberry One-Act Festival.
Presentation of the Pioneer of the Arts Awards
Pioneer of the Arts Awards presentation honorees:
Kamilah Forbes, an award-winning director and producer, is the Executive Producer for the Apollo Theater, a commissioning and presenting organization and theater located in Harlem, NY. Approaching its 85th year, the Apollo Theater remains dedicated to the projection of the African American narrative and its role in the development of American and global culture. Forbes’ recent projects include directing the world premiere and theatrical adaption of Ta-Nehisi’ Coates’ New York Times Best-Selling novel Between the World and Me.
Vivian Reed Credits include: ‘Tartuffe,’ ‘Damn Yankees,’ ‘Show Boat,’ ‘Marie Christine,’ ‘Sophisticated Ladies,’ ‘Blues In The Night,’ ‘Tintypes,’ ‘Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd,’ ‘Bubbling Brown Sugar,’ ‘High Rollers,’ ‘Hallelujah Baby,’ ‘More than a Song,’ ‘One For My Baby,’ ‘Countess of Storyville,’ ‘Blues for an Alabama Sky,’ ‘Crumbs from the Table of Joy,’ ‘Cookin’ at the Cookery,’ ‘The Second Tosca,’ ‘Pork Pie,’ and ‘Invisible Life.’ Awards include two TONY Award Nominations, Drama Desk, Mabel Mercer, NAACP, Dance Educators of America and Outer Critics Circle. Also, Vivian has created 4 one-woman shows: An Evening with Vivian Reed, Standards and More, Vivian Reed Sings Lena Horne and Little Bit of Soul, Little Bit of Pop. She has performed in major theaters and clubs in the US as well as Europe. www.vivianreed.com
Alton Fitzgerald White In addition to his 4308 performances as King Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King, White's other Broadway starring roles include: Mister in The Color Purple, Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, Ken in Smokey Joe’s Cafe, John in Miss Saigon and The Hawker in The Who’s Tommy. He made his West End debut as Ken in Smokey Joe’s Cafe in London. Alton has performed concert dates all over the world and is also a popular motivational speaker and author. His critically acclaimed book MY PRIDE: MASTERING LIFE’S DAILY PERFORMANCE was published by Disney Editions. He has also had guest star roles on the hit TV series “Law and Order,” “Bull,” “The Blacklist,” “The Good Fight,” “Code Black,” “Elementary,” “Mindhunter,” and “Madam Secretary” to name a few. Alton has had recent featured roles in several motion pictures including The Goldfinch, as a social worker opposite Oscar Winner Nicole Kidman. Alton’s popular TEDx Talk can be found on YouTube. https://altonfitzgeraldwhite.com/
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre
Expected Run Time is 120 minutes