Riant Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival Now Playing Through 2/23

The Riant Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival's 25th Season from February 13 - 23 at the Theatre at St. Clement's at 423 West 46th Street kicks off with tales about post-Katrina New Orleans, a spiritual awakening in the New Mexico desert and a hangover between friends.

The Strawberry One-Act Festival is packed with over 25 one-act and full-length dramas, comedies and musicals. The playwright of the winning play receives $1,500.00 and the opportunity to have a full-length play developed by the Riant Theatre.

The Strawberry One-Act Festival has presented over 1,500 one-act plays since its inception. "We take pride in providing a nurturing environment to develop new plays with outstanding artists," said Van Dirk Fisher, founder of the Riant Theatre and artistic director Strawberry One-Act Festival. "With the one act play, writers are forced to get to the meat of the story. They have to cut to the source in 15 or 30 minutes. Less can be more."

Post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans is the backdrop of Patrick Flanagan's "Some People Run," a blues and R&B musical comedy about a blind bounty hunter, a nurse and a runaway convict. It performs February 13, February 16 and February 17.

Visiting New Orleans in 2010 with a Hurricane Katrina volunteer group from Wagner College, Flanagan became enthralled by the city. "New Orleans was so enchanting, sexy and mysterious all at the same time," he recalled. "Walking down the streets you would randomly come across a jazz band just jammin" on a corner, there were beads hanging from trees and the rhythm of the city was to a beat all its very own."

The comedy "Hair of the Dog" takes place the morning after a raging bon voyage house party and three best friend roommates try to piece together what happened. There are the tribulations of waking up with cottonmouth, a missing passport and embarrassing photos posted on Instagram. It performs February 13, February 14 and February 16.

Three college friends catching up created "Hair of the Dog." This theatrical collaboration is between former Aldelphi University drama classmates turned playwrights Brittney Massari, Raquel Powell and Lauren Brickman. "Collaborating with a friend makes for such a safe environment that enables you complete freedom of artistic expression," pointed out Massari. "It is a unique mixture of work and play."

For playwright David Miguel Estrada, the inspiration for his drama "Long Time Comin" started with a few lines of dialogue about a correspondence on a cardboard box. The drama evolved into a tale about experiencing a spiritual awakening in the New Mexico desert and seeking to make amends. It performs February 13, February 14 and February 17.

"Van Dirk Fisher has, without a doubt, been instrumental in cultivating my craft as a writer. A playwright needs to see his work onstage. Van and the Riant Theatre make that a reality," said Estrada. "Some of the best work I've seen has been on a black box stage at The Strawberry Festival." "Code of Silence," a murder mystery by founder Fisher will be performed on February 21, February 22, and February 23.

There are many television, film and stage success stories among the Riant's alumni. There's playwright Charles Higham, whose biography on Howard Hughes was the basis for Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning movie "The Aviator" starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Actress April Hernandez, who co-starred in the movie "Freedom Writers" with Hilary Swank and the hit show "Dexter." Also, actor Stanley Wayne Mathis, who has performed on Broadway in shows like "Wonderful Town" and "Jelly's Last Jam." Radio personality Goomba Johnny of WKTU acted in "A Punch in the Face" by Jeffrey Gurian at the Riant. Oscar nominee Chaz Palminteri has directed a play in the Strawberry One-Act Festival.

The Strawberry One-Act Festival competition is filled with performances on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16. It will feature five series of plays. Each series will feature 3 - 5 four plays. The semi-finals take place on February 18 - February 19 and the "Wild Night" is on February 20. The finals are on February 21. The Strawberry One-Act Festival concludes on February 23 with top awards presented to Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. and the awards ceremony.

"I feel that the Riant Theatre and the Strawberry One- Act Festival are very empowering," said Fisher. "We really celebrate the artist from beginning to end."

The Strawberry One-Act Festival tickets are $22 online and $25 at the box office. The awards ceremony tickets are $27 online and $30 at the box office. For more information www.therianttheatre.com, email RiantTheatre@gmail.com or call 646-623-3488.



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