The Riant Theatre to Honor Vivan Reed, Alton Fitzgerald White and Kamilah Forbes with Special Pioneer of the Arts Awards
The Riant Theatre (Van Dirk Fisher, Artistic Director), a nonprofit theatre supporting playwrights and theatremakers of diverse cultural backgrounds, is holding the Launch Party for its annual Strawberry One-Act and Theatre Festival on Sunday, February 9, 2020 at 4:00pm at Cafe Victoria, 70 West 107th Street, NYC, near Columbus Avenue. The evening will begin with a reception with food, drinks and a screening of the Video Diaries Project: a series of short films about the artists in the festival.
Then at the 7pm performance of the Best Plays From the Strawberry One-Act Festival at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space will include the presentation of 2020 Pioneer of the Arts Award For Outstanding Achievement In Theatre and Education to actress, dancer and singer Vivian Reed, a multi-award winner with two TONY NOMINATIONS, DRAMA DESK AWARD, THEATRE WORLD AWARD, OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD, DANCE EDUCATION OF AMERICA AWARD, NAACP AWARD, Mabel Mercer AWARD and several others; the acclaimed Broadway and television actor Alton Fitzgerald White, who has performed a record breaking 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; and award-winning director and producer, Kamilah Forbes, who is the Executive Producer of the World Famous Apollo Theater in Harlem.
The Gala reception with food, drinks is at 4:30pm-6:30pm. Tickets ($75 before February 1st; $85 after January 31st) are available through The Riant Theatre's website (www.therianttheatre.com) and by calling the box office at 646-623-3488. Tickets for the February 9th Performance at 7pm of the Best Plays from the Strawberry One-Act Festival including the PIONEER OF THE ARTS AWARDS Presentation can be purchased from www.SymphonySpace.com or at their Box Office at 2537 Broadway at 95th St, NYC.
Since 2009, the Pioneer of the Arts Award For Outstanding Achievement In Television and Theatre has been awarded as a tribute to the trailblazing artists who have paved the way for the diversity and inclusion in the world of entertainment. Past recipients of this honor include Camille A. Brown, the TONY nominated choreographer for Choir Boys, and the Emmy winning Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE on NBC with John Legend, Liesl Tommy, the Tony-nominated director of Eclipsed; Sam Pollard, the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker and editor (Four Little Girls; When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts); George Faison, the first-ever African American TONY Award winner choreographer and director; and Hope Clark, a singer, actress and a former principal dancer of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Among the presenters for the 2020 ceremony are Choreographer & Founder of the Camille A. Brown Dancers Camille A. Brown, Broadway actor and singer Derric Harris, and the Chief Transformation Officer at the Carlyle Group Reggie Van Lee. The Master of Ceremonies will be Van Dirk Fisher, AUDELCO Award recipient, Founder/ Artistic Director of The Riant Theatre and the Strawberry One-Act Theatre Festival and Boyd Wilson.
The award ceremony will be preceded by the performance of the Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival: NOT THAT ILLEGAL by Yusuf Yildiz, TWO GOOD DOGS by Anthony Roesch, A TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR RHINOCEROS by Richard Lopel and LEAVES by Victor Vauban Jr at 7pm at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th St, NYC. Tickets available at www.SymphonySpace.com or the Box Office.
The Gala Reception will be from 4:30pm - 6:30pm at the Thalia Studios and will include food and drinks and a screening of competition entries for The Video Diaries, a collection of short films about the artists in the 2020 Strawberry One-Act Festival (February 12-23, 2020.) The winners of the video competition will be announced at the festival's Awards Ceremony and Performance on February 23, 2020 at Theatre 54 @ Shetler Studios & Theatres (244 West 54th Street, 12th Fl, NYC) at 5:30pm. Gala Tickets available at (www.TheRiantTheatre.com )
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. www.altonfitzgeraldwhite.com
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.
The Riant Theatre (formerly The Black Experimental Theatre) was founded by Artistic Director, 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 Riant 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 Theatre. Since 1995, it has been producing and presenting the Strawberry One-Act Festival. The Riant (which means merriment and laughter in French) 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.
The Riant Theatre has a strong youth mentoring program, which provides internships for teenagers and college students interested in the arts. Besides THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT AND THEATER FESTIVAL (usually presented twice a year, in February/March and July/August), its current programs 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 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.