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The Riant Theatre - the Audelco Award-winning nonprofit providing a nurturing developmental environment for playwrights and theatre creators of diverse cultural backgrounds - presents THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL. A celebration of cultural diversity, THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL will be presented at the Theatre at St. Clement's (423 West 46th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues, NYC) beginning today, July 13th. The festival will continue through Sunday, July 30th, 2017.

This summer's festival marks the 30th Season of The Riant Theatre's renowned short play competition, and also will feature the premieres of three full-length one-act plays. Reflecting the diversity written into the mission of its presenter, THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL has produced over 1,500 one-act plays since it began in 1995 (in recent years, the festival has often been presented biannually due to demand from artist submissions and audiences alike).

Tickets for all performances during THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL are priced as follows: General admission - $25 advance/$27 at the box office, Premium seating - $30 advance/$35 at the box office. Tickets are on sale now through or by calling 646-623-3488. Festival Pass discount packages are also available upon request.

The following three full-length plays will premiere at THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL, each will be performed 3 -4 times over a two-week period:


By PatRick Hamilton

Directed by Lola Lopez Guardone

Wed, July 19 at 9pm / Fri, July 21 at 9pm / Thurs, July 27 at 7pm / Sat, July 29 at 7pm

On an average morning, three people are ripped from their everyday lives and forced to contemplate death head-on. Before the Fall allows us to look at our own relationship to death and, ultimately, our own lives.

Playwright PatRick Hamilton is a native of Bethesda, MD. He moved to New York City to attend Fordham University at Rose Hill and has lived here ever since. He taught sciences at Xavier High School for six years before leaving to pursue acting and writing full-time. This marks the second time this year he has teamed up with director Lola Lopez Guardone, who he met at The Tom Todoroff Studio. The first was for his original play These Little Ones Perish, which debuted in January and was nominated for Best Play at the NY Theater Winterfest. He is currently working on several projects and will be seen in the play Tomorrow in the Battle at the Ars Nova Theater this fall.


By Richard A.F. Wien

Directed by Charles C. Casano

Fri, July 21 at 6:00pm / Wed, July 26 at 7pm / Sat, July 29 at 8:30pm

A fact-based play that explores such enduring subjects as the arguments for and against fighting, the importance of camaraderie among those in harm's way, and the damage caused by wounds that cannot be seen (PTSD).

Richard Wien is Vice President, Internal Communications, CBS Corporation. As a freelance writer he has been published in The New York Times and Reader's Digest. LETTER OF INTENTION, a contemporary drama based on the writings of the WWI soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon, is his first play.


By Robert Ellsworth

Directed by Mr. Ellsworth

Friday, July 21st at 7:30pm / Friday, July 28th at 6:00pm / Sunday, July 30th at 4:30pm

Two strangers, an affluent, middle-aged divorcee and a sardonic, gay Mexican American stylist, volunteer at a West Hollywood suicide hotline. Unqualified and without guidance, they are forced to fend for themselves. Despite ostensible contrasts, they somehow find an intimacy between them as they tackle increasingly dire phone calls, as well as their own existential crisis.

Playwright Robert Ellsworth, a Boston native, graduated cum laude from UCLA with a BA in Creative Writing and an MFA from Cal State Los Angeles. A former journalist, his writings have appeared in Elle, US Weekly, FHM, Vogue, the Boston Globe, The National Post and Movieline. Ellsworth has also sold three feature film screenplays to such major studios as Touchstone, Village Road Show and Warner Brothers. He has worked for Paramount Pictures, Shonda Rhymes and ABC Studios. Ellsworth's script, The Sect, was the 2016 recipient of the Best Feature Screenplay Award for the 25th Annual California Media Arts Festival. He currently teaches Media Ethics and Journalism at Cal State Los Angeles and is working on his second play.

THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL will also continue its tradition of staging both world and New York premieres of short theatrical works presented as part of The Strawberry One-Act Competition. Nicknamed "the 'American Idol' for playwrights" by the New York Daily News, THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL features a playoff-style competition of plays received through submissions from across the country. Audience members vote for their favorite play among those presented each evening. The writers of chosen plays get to work with an Industry Coach to help prepare them for the Finals, which are judged by a jury of industry experts. In addition to the opportunity for finalists to be selected for publication in print in the festival's anthology The Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival, awards are presented for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Costumes in addition to Best Play, which comes with a $4,000 prize and a development deal for a full-length play produced by the Riant Theatre.

The Strawberry One-Act Competition:


Every play in The Strawberry One-Act Festival will be performed four times - each time on a program with three different plays. Finalists will be selected during this process (July 13th - 25th).

COACHING (Pre-Finals)

Beginning Wednesday, July 26th the top plays will be assigned to an INDUSTRY COACH who will work with them before they are staged again at The Finals.

This season's COACHES include:

- two-time AUDELCO Award winning actress/director Patricia R. Floyd (Guest Director in Residence at Stamford Theatre Works);

- AUDELCO Award-winning actress/director Elizabeth Van Dyke (Love to All, Lorraine);

- and actress Rebecca Larkin (Broadway: South Pacific, National Tour: Avenue Q, Twice Charmed; directed by Bartlett Sher, Jason Moore, Eric Schaeffer, Joe Calarco, etc.).


The 'Finals' performances will take place on Fri, July 28 at 7:30pm & 9:30pm; Sat, July 29 at 1pm, 3pm & 5pm; and Sun, July 30 at 2pm.

INDUSTRY JUDGES will see all Finals performances. This season's judges include:

- actor Count Stovall (Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire, Driving Miss Daisy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Philadelphia Story, Inacent Black);

- casting director Ellyn Long-Marshall / Orpheus Group Casting (Broadway: Rent; Film: Maria Full of Grace, Girlfight, Real Women Have Curves);

- theater producer Stephen Miller of Miller-Coffman Productions, LLC (Siren's Den - A New Rock Musical, the upcoming Blood Boundary);

- Helen Schultz, Literary Associate at Brett Adams LTD, and the recipient of the 2015 Playwrights Horizons fellowship and a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America.

- Kate Bussert, Literary Associate at Brett Adams LTD, who previously worked with the Manhattan Theatre Club.


The Judges will determine nominees for all awards, and nominations will be announced at the Festival's conclusion.


A gala Awards Ceremony is scheduled to be held on Sunday, August 27th at 7pm (location TBA).

All one-act works in the competition will be presented live as well as streamed on-demand through The Strawberry One-Act Festival's Vimeo Channel For $25 per performance (the cost of an advance general admission ticket), those unable to attend in-person can view the plays and participate in voting. Through The Strawberry One-Act Festival's Vimeo Channel, viewers can also see works from past festival plays as well as Artist Introductions and Video Diaries ($15 per month subscription).

THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL - Short Plays To Be Presented in Competition:


Thurs, July 13 at 7pm / Sat, July 15 at 7pm / Sun, July 16 at 9pm / Thurs, July 20 at 7pm

A dark comedy that combines the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, the supernatural and the apocalypse.

- BATTLE LINES by Steven Meeker, Jr.

Thurs, July 13 at 7pm / Sun, July 16 at 3pm / Wed, July 19 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 5pm

The honeymoon phase of Stacy and Mia's relationship has officially passed after two weeks. What really crosses the line?

- BISCUITS by Sacha Elie

Sat, July 15 at 3pm / Sun, July 16 at 3pm / Sat, July 22 at 7pm / Tues, July 25 at 9pm

A young women's self-exploration through love, ghosts and Red Lobster biscuits.

- CHEESECAKE by Nadia Asencio

Sat, July 15 at 7pm / Thurs, July 20 at 7pm / Sun, July 23 at 3pm / Wed, July 26 at 9pm

Dining hell ensues as two best friends struggle with the elephant in the room.

- DOUBLE JOY by Joseph Lizardi

Sat, July 15 at 3pm / Mon, July 17 at 9pm / Sat, July 22 at 1pm / Mon, July 24th at 7pm
A middle-aged couple allow their growing love for each other to act as a healing process, thus sealing their relationship.

- EXTRAORDINARY by MElissa Myers

Fri, July 14 at 7pm / Sun, July 16 at 3pm / Mon, July 17 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 5pm

A heart-touching drama about a girl who is terrified of her future and what she will amount to.

- FATE FILES by Dennis S. Gribben

Fri, July 14 at 7pm / Sun, July 16 at 5pm / Thurs, July 20 at 9pm / Sat, July 22 at 7pm

If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven or Hell? Who would decide? One man's fate in the afterlife is in the hands of an old friend from his past, who knows his darkest secret.

- KETCHUP OR MUSTARD by Lior Almagor

Sat, July 15 at 7pm / Sun, July 16 at 9pm / Tues, July 18 at 9pm / Sun, July 23 at 3pm

Two women are waiting for a life-altering decision. What begins as a random encounter between strangers turns into a brave friendship that would change the way they perceive the world, each other, and themselves.

- THE LATE GORDON KAPLAN by Robin Anne Joseph

Thurs, July 13 at 9pm / Wed, July 15 at 5pm / Sun, July 16 at 5pm / Tues, July 18 at 9pm

At her husband's funeral, and at odds with her daughter and her rabbi, a grieving widow makes a bold decision about how her husband should be eulogized. In doing so, she grapples with the complexity of her feelings about life, death, and how one navigates relationships along the way.


Thurs, July 13 at 7pm / Sun, July 16 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 3pm / Mon, July 24 at 9pm

Losing a parent is an earth-shattering event. When Jake learns that his family has been forging letters he believed he was receiving from his mother (written before she passed), he must learn to forgive, rebuild and heal in the face of his grief.

- A NIGHT AT STONEWALL by Anthony Fusco

Wed, July 19 at 7pm / Thurs, July 20 at 9pm / Sun, July 23 at 5pm / Wed, July 26 at 9pm

At the legendary Stonewall Inn, three friends come to celebrate a weekend getaway. A play about trust, awareness, and living in a society of phone app hook-ups.

- OFF WITH THE HEAD by Xavier Damon

Fri, July 14 at 9pm / Sun, July 16 at 7pm / Thurs, July 20 at 7pm / Tues, July 25 at 9pm

An absurdist styled comedy about quite possibly the worst king in history.

- ON BECOMING A MARINE by Betsy Newberry

Thurs, July 13 at 9pm / Tues, July 18 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 9pm / Tues, July 25 at 7pm

Take a trip back to 1968, Parris Island, South Carolina, and learn what it was like for a woman to become a Marine during the height of the Viet Nam War.

- A PLAY ON WORDS by Albert Repicci

Thurs, July 13 at 9pm / Sun, July 16 at 3pm / Sat, July 22 at 7pm / Sun, July 23 at 3pm

A young male playwright recognizes the drab appearing woman at a bar as being the theatre critic who reviewed his play and timidly approaches her and asks her opinion of his work. When she dressed him down, he dressed her up.

- THE PRIVATE ROOM by Daniel Haughey

Sat, July 15 at 7pm / Mon, July 17 at 9pm / Sun, July 23 at 5pm / Mon, July 24 at 9pm

On a small Midwestern college campus, three desperate people are trapped in a storm of passions.


Sat, July 15 at 5pm / Sat, July 22 at 3pm / Sun, July 23 at 3pm / Mon, July 24 at 9pm

Reverend Mother shares a trinity of secrets at her retirement party as the Principal of Immaculate Conception Elementary School.

- ROUSING THE HEAD by Melissa Ross

Sat, July 15 at 5pm / Sat, July 15 at 9pm / Sun, July 16 at 9pm / Tues, July 18 at 7pm

Tired of navigating the dating scene in NYC in the year 2050, Judy begins a relationship with a male computer head that could satisfy all of her cerebral needs. That is, until she meets an actual warm-blooded man who literally sweeps her off her feet. If you had to decide between being sexually or intellectually fulfilled in a relationship, which would you choose?

- SELF YELP by Emily Thomas and Helene Ellford

Fri, July 14 at 9pm / Tues, July 18 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 7pm / Tues, July 25 at 9pm

The lives of various NYC Yelp reviewers intertwine as we learn about the joy and frustration they experience via their Yelp reviews. Five stars. Inspired by true events.

- SICK AND TIRED by Diane L. Parker

Sat, July 15 at 5pm / Mon, July 17 at 7pm / Sun, July 23 at 5pm / Mon, July 24 at 7pm

A dramatic portrayal of Voting Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.

- THE TALE OF SAN MERAUX by Robert Briksza

Sat, July 15 at 9pm/ Thurs, July 20 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 1pm / Tues, July 25 at 7pm

San Meraux, a billionaire villain too smart for his own good, has built the laser Cannon Merauxvian II and plans to use it to take over the world. The only thing in his way is the super hero Hyperion, who has one weakness, the beauty that is San Meraux's right hand man, Artemis.

- TALKABOUT by George Coates

Sat, July 15 at 9pm / Sun, July 16 at 5pm / Mon, July 17 at 9pm / Tues, July 18 at 9pm

An absurdist play which aims to ask questions of social convention and compliance to said social conventions.

- TELL ME YOUR CRAZY by Jason Kurtz

Fri, July 14 at 7pm / Tues, July 18 at 9pm / Sat, July 22 at 9pm / Mon, July 24 at 7pm

Frank, a young businessman, thinks it's clever to ask his date how she is crazy. He discovers that sometimes you get what you wish for, and wish you hadn't.

- THIS WAY OUT by Annie Rosenberg

Sat, July 15 at 9pm / Thurs, July 20 at 9pm / Tues, July 25 at 7pm / Wed, July 26 at 9pm

The last thing Nelson Ferreira expects when he gets home from school is the shocking news that his family are illegal aliens who've just found out that they're being deported in less than a week. A heartbreaking journey through anger, fear and grief as one struggles to accept his fate.

- TRAIL MIX by Patrick Sherrard

Wed, July 19th at 7pm / Sat, July 22nd at 3pm / Sat, July 22nd at 9pm / Mon, July 24th at 7pm

The first time taking a new path can change your journey forever.

- TREFFPUNKT by Natalie Lifson

Fri, July 14 at 9pm / Mon, July 17 at 9pm / Wed, July 19 at 7pm / Wed, July 26 at 9pm

Richard, a WWII veteran struggling with PTSD, discovers that the future may not be so dim after all when he meets Henry, a WWI veteran, and his daughter Cathy.

- TYPE CAST by Adam Delia / Five Flights Theater Company

Thurs, July 13 at 9pm / Sun, July 16 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 9pm / Tues, July 25 at 7pm

When Lana, a young Italian American Acting student, wakes up with her Teacher's Assistant Varrick, she thinks she's finally got the man of her dreams, except he doesn't want her to tell anyone from school . . . and Lana isn't the type to say the smartest things.

- THE UNSPOKEN 200 by Ehinomen Okojie

Fri, July 14 at 7pm / Sun, July 16 at 7pm / Sun, July 23 at 5pm / Mon, July 24 at 9pm

The world mourned for a few days, but these women will mourn for eternity.

- VAGINA RIGHTS by Shaneisha Dodson

Sat, July 15 at 3pm / Sun, July 16 at 5pm / Wed, July 19 at 7pm/ Sat, July 22 at 5pm

Six eclectic women fight for their rights by creating the vagina rights code to address the following issues: depression, pay inequality, sex trafficking, genital mutilation and transgender issues.

- THE WAITING ROOM by Jack Pepper

Thurs, July 13 at 7pm / Mon, July 17 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 1pm / Tues, July 25 at 9pm

A woman working for the Company arrives at the waiting room and meets a man who thinks he recognizes her. Has this happened before? Is this the first time they have crossed paths? Here in the waiting room she is forced to confront more than she asked for.

- THE WIGGLE ROOM by George D. Morgan

Sat, July 15 at 3pm / Mon, July 17 at 7pm / Thurs, July 20 at 9pm / Sat, July 22 at 1pm

On the evening prior to the Space Shuttle Challenger launch, supervisors from NASA have a conference call with engineers from the Morton Thiokol Rocket Company to discuss a problem that may jeopardize the entire mission.

- WIZARD by Gloria Craig

Fri, July 14 at 9pm / Sun, July 16 at 9pm / Tues, July 18 at 7pm / Sat, July 22 at 3pm

The Deep South during the depression offers a landscape of poverty-stricken prostitutes who proposition "Catfish," a strict, born-again, self-styled "wizard" who captures the beauty in garbage. A dump caretaker and his God can transform ordinary discarded matter into spiritual finds.

Strawberry Festival actor alumni include Academy Award-nominees Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Chazz Palminteri (Bullets Over Broadway, A Bronx Tale), Golden Globe Award-winner Ving Rhames ("Don King: Only in America," Bringing Out the Dead, Mission Impossible), Ato Essandoh (Jason Bourne, HBO's "Vinyl," "Elementary"), and Chance Kelly (American Sniper, NBC's "Aquarius").

"Independently created and presented theatre, once a vital part of this city's cultural landscape, is sadly becoming increasingly rare in the current economic and political environment. I am honored, through The Riant Theatre's Strawberry One-Act Festival, to continue providing an opportunity for playwrights, actors, singers, directors and designers the opportunity to create vital new work," says Van Dirk Fisher, Artistic Director.

The Riant Theatre (formerly The Black Experimental Theatre) was founded by Van Dirk Fisher in 1979 as a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a nurturing environment to develop new plays and outstanding artists - particularly for the African-American Playwrights facing limited access to resources for developing and presenting their work. Through the years, the company has extended its mission of furthering the understanding between the races by celebrating diversity through theatre. By 1991, the theatre company expanded to a loft in Tribeca and was renamed The Riant (which means 'merriment and laughter' in French). Since 1995, The Riant Theatre has been producing and presenting THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL (now often presented twice a year -- in February/March and July/August). Its current programs also include The Core Project, an ongoing intensive workshop for writers, directors and actors to develop new plays and present them in stage readings; New Play Reading Series, in which plays are read before an invited audience and followed by a question and answer session with the playwright and artists; and the Musical Theatre Workshop, for students, in which they learn Broadway, gospel and classical style songs under the guidance of theatre professionals and work on scenes and choreography that will lead to a performance. The Riant Theatre also has a strong Youth Mentoring Program, which provides internships for teenagers and college students interested in the arts. This unique organization has grown to become a place where artists - singers, writers, actors, directors, musicians, and visual artists - can come together to collaborate on new works and share ideas. For his accomplishments with The Riant Theatre, Van Dirk Fisher received the 2009 AUDELCO Special Achievement Award. Visit

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