Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Broadway Producers ALIA JONES-HARVEY & STEPHEN C. BYRD will receive the Riant Theatre's PIONEER OF THE ARTS AWARD

Broadway Producers ALIA JONES-HARVEY & STEPHEN C. BYRD (Romeo and Juliet, Trip To Bountiful, Street Car Named Desire and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) will receive the PIONEER OF THE ARTS AWARD at the Launch Party for the Strawberry Theatre Festival at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse @ 165th St.) on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 7pm. Join us for a panel discussion about LIVING THE DREAM with our honorees, which will include: Theatre Producers, Agents, Casting Directors, Singer/Songwriters, Directors and Actors.  Save the date and like us on Facebook and join our email club to receive updates of other panelists by clicking here.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Ashton Pina has been awarded the YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AWARD by the Riant Theatre, the award is given to an outstanding student enrolled in college and includes a scholarship of $2,500, which Mr. Pina will use to complete his thesis film THE BROTHERS TEXAS.  Check out his campaign on kickstarter to help him reach his goal.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Play Submissions for the Strawberry Theatre Festival & Strawberry One-Act Festival (Deadline October 30, 2013)

The Riant Theatre's Strawberry Theatre Festival will be at the 160 seat Theatre at St. Clement's on 46th St. in Manhattan from February 12th - February 23, 2014, and is now accepting submissions for Full Length Plays (between 55 - 90 minutes) and Musicals (not to exceed 120 minutes), Short Plays (40 minutes - 50 minutes) and Staged Readings. Plays selected for the festival can perform between 3 - 5 performances and elect to share a percentage of the box office by paying a theatre usage fee between $1 - $9 per ticket to receive 10% - 100% share of the box office. To download an application go to or email us at The deadline to submit an application is October 30, 2013.  Late Submissions deadline is November 15, 2013. The participation fee for the STF is $400 for plays received by October 30, 2013 and $500 for plays received after October 30, 2013. The participation fee for Short Plays is $350. All submissions are done by email.

Also seeking submissions for the Strawberry One-Act Festival (February 12th - February 23rd) for plays with a running time from 15 minutes - 30 minutes. Plays can advance from Round 1, Semi-Finals, Finals and the Awards Show & Performance. The judges for the Finals will consist of (2) Artistic Directors, (1) Agent and (1) Casting Director. The 4 Best Plays will perform at the Awards Ceremony on February 23rd and have the option to do an Encore Performance at one of our Partner Theatre Companies. The participating fee for plays accepted into the festival is $300 for plays submitted by October 30, 2013 and $350 for plays received after October 30, 2013, which includes: an on-camera interview for your play, inclusion in our mailing brochures and the Riant Theatre Review Magazine, (1) ticket to our Launch Party and Screening of the Video Diaries Project: A Series of Short Films about the artists in the Strawberry One-Act Festival;
(1) comp ticket whenever your play is performed, (1) ticket to the Awards Ceremony. The winner of the Best Play receives $1,500. Awards are given to Best Play, Best Director ($150), Best Actor ($150), Best Actress ($150) and Best Short Film - The Video Diaries Project ($250). Some plays will be selected for publication in the anthology The Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival. All Submissions must be done by emailed. Deadline October 30, 2013. Deadline for late submissions is November 15, 2013.  Download an application at (There is no sharing of the box office for the One-Act Festival.). To buy Volume 7 of the anthology: THE BEST PLAYS FROM THE STRAWBERRY ONE-ACT FESTIVAL go to or

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Radio Interview with Kristen Seavey & Van Dirk Fisher on BOOK TALK with DJ Kory on Break Thru Radio

Check out this Radio interview with DJ Kory on BOOK TALK on Break Thru Radio with Van Dirk Fisher and Kristen Seavey at  Kristen and Van Dirk discuss the plays in the anthology The Best Plays In The Strawberry One-Act Festival: Volume Seven
To buy the book go to

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Embracing the Spark: Orpheus Group Casting Founders Receive Pioneer of the Arts Award

Embracing the Spark:  Orpheus Group Casting Founders Receive Pioneer of the Arts Award
By Jane Rubinsky
 Ellyn Long Marshall and Maria E. Nelson, the founding partners of Orpheus Group Casting, receive the Riant Theatre’s Pioneer of the Arts Award in recognition of their 27 years of uncompromising dedication to the arts of film, theater, and television.  Among the critically acclaimed films enriched by their expertise are Girlfight (2000), Real Women Have Curves (2002), Maria Full of Grace (2004), and Amreeka (2009).  The pair have also worked with respected theater companies such as INTAR, on Broadway, and at Lincoln Center.
A native New Yorker born into a theatrical family (her father was the actor Avon Long), Marshall studied acting before landing a job in casting at the Public Theater back in the late 70s.  “A regular paycheck, health insurance, doing something I loved; I was in heaven,” she recalls.  She was casting for the Los Angeles tour of Joseph Papp’s Pirates of Penzance when she met Nelson, an agent for a musical theater company on 42nd Street, over the phone.  “I just found a really pleasant person on the other side of the phone,” says Nelson.  “And that’s basically how we began this friendship.”
Nelson, who was born in Costa Rica to a family of entrepreneurs, had become New York State’s youngest licensed agent at age 23, after already having worked in the fashion industry.  She moved up the ladder quickly, but her goal was to launch a production company – “completely out of my forecast for my life,” laughs Marshall.  But their tastes and values were in sync.  And as Marshall began seeing more shows that were “terrible” – “not a lot of them, but just the concept,” she recalls – the two decided it was time to open their own company in an office at Kaufman Astoria Studios in 1987.
Initially they focused on theater production.  But directors were also looking for help with casting, and the pair had a wide knowledge of actors from their previous lives.  As the casting work “mushroomed,” says Marshall, the two eventually moved into film with Above the Rim (1994).  Since then, they have been playing an integral part in shaping independent features with multicultural themes.
“People often ask us, how do you decide what to work on?” says Nelson.  “We’re totally script-driven; that’s the deciding factor.”
“We choose projects that are important to us, that introduce new ideas,” concurs Marshall.  “And things that have an impact on society, that the audience will come away from with something positive, regardless of how dark the subject matter might be or how it’s presented.”
That often means working on a project from the ground up, with lots of challenges – from helping to find financing to steering someone to the right cinematographer or director.  Nelson recalls the Canadian producer who confessed, once a project was under way, that she “needed a little help” because she had never produced a film before.  “I told her, ‘Well, you’re going to produce this one!’” says Nelson.  “And of course we helped her, and talked her through the process.  Then there was the film they had to cast in five different countries from New York City – with the audition tapes in Arabic.  “We were arguing with the producers about using this actor or that actor, and I don’t know if they even internalized the fact that we didn’t speak Arabic!” laughs Nelson.  “But we were lucky enough to be right, and the particular actor got all the accolades in the trade.”
Singling out a favorite project is hard, but Nelson says they are especially proud of Girlfight.  “We worked hand-in-hand with the writer and director, Karyn Kusama, from the very beginning,” she says.  The casting was pivotal.  “We’d been talking about this role with Karyn for nearly a year,” recalls Marshall.  “She was very specific about what she wanted this person to be.  We saw hundreds and hundreds of young ladies.  When we saw Michelle Rodriguez, I just knew immediately that was the girl.  She had no credits, and came in off the street to an open call, and she was fabulous.”
Current projects include fully producing two films and working on an innovative Broadway musical, as well as building a media arts center in Middletown, N.Y. (where the Hoboken Film Festival was transplanted this year after the damage of Hurricane Sandy).
Despite rapid and sometimes unsettling changes in the industry, they remain optimistic.  Technology, maintains Marshall, changes “not only the process, but also the creative part of the brain.  I think it has atrophied.”  They also refuse to cave in to the pressure to cast big names that have nothing to do with a script.  “But recently, we’re getting these little inklings from people who have this spark,” says Marshall.  “I’m seeing that there are young people coming up with good scripts, with good ideas, who need guidance.  To be able to nurture that, and help them find the money, that’s the challenge, and that’s specifically where our heads are at right now.”
“We who have the experience should be there to embrace this, to help it along,” adds Nelson.  “Because that’s our responsibility.  And I feel very seriously about that.  Personally, that’s why I’m in this end of the industry – because I want to leave a legacy.”

Tickets are available for the PIONEER OF THE ARTS AWARDS, which will be presented at the Launch  Party for the Strawberry One-Act Festival.  The event will be on Monday, July 29, 2013 at 7pm at the Tribeca Grand Hotel - Cinema, located at 2 Avenue of the Americas, NYC.  There will be a special screening of the Video Diaries Project: A Series of Short Films About the Artists in the Strawberry One-Act Festival.  For tickets go to

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Script Submissions Deadline is May 20, 2013 for the Strawberry One-Act Festival in Manhattan, NYC

Strawberry One-Act Festival in Manhattan, NYC

The Strawberry One-Act Festival – Summer 2013 will be held at

The Hudson Guild Theater, 441 West 26th St., NYC,
Between 9th & 10th Avenue
August 14, 2013 - August 25, 2013
The Strawberry One-Act Festival is celebrating its 24th season, the brainchild of Artistic Director, Van Dirk Fisher, is a play competition in which the audience and the theatre's judges cast their votes to select the best play of the season.  Twice a year, hundreds of plays from across the country are submitted for the competition.  Plays move from the 1st Round to the Semi-Finals and then the Finals.  The playwright of the winning play receives $1,500.00 and the opportunity to have a full-length play developed by the Riant.  The awards to be presented are Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. Submissions are being accepted for the festival until May 20, 2013.  To download an application click here or email us for an application at  To submit full-length plays, musicals and staged readings click here for an application for the Strawberry Theatre Festival.

The Judges for the Finals of the Strawberry One-Act Festival TBA, they will consist of a Theatre Producer, Artistic Director of a Theatre Company, a Casting Director and an Agent.
The Launch Party for the festival will be held at the Tribeca Grand Hotel Cinema on Monday, July 29, 2013 at 7pm.  The Award Ceremony & Performance will be on Sunday, August 25th at 5pm at the Hudson Guild Theatre.  In addition, some of the plays in the festival will be selected for publication in our anthology: The Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival: Volume 9.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jeremiah Milbauer: Renaissance Man, Literally By Kaley G Pillinger (The Observer Newspaper)

Jeremiah Milbauer, a 10th grader at Hunter College High School, has fostered an interest in theater from a young age.  “Like any kid, I think I was always interested in dressing up and parading around the house in costume, pretending to be some character from my imagination.”  It’s been a long and prolific journey between his first role as a sunflower in a play at day camp at age 8 and his current role as Giorgio Vasari, a young apprentice in the current production of The Faultless Painter, currently in rehearsal for the Strawberry One-Act Festival by the Riant Theater.

While this is Jeremiah’s first foray into professional theater, he’s participated in many productions both at school and his synagogue.  His favorite roles include: Fagin in Oliver!, Crank in Snow Angel, the title role in The Odyssey as well as the aggressive half of Caius Lucius in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.

The producer from The Faultless Painter saw Jeremiah as Odysseus and remembered his terrific performance when it came time a year later to cast the role of Giorgio Vasari. The characters in the play are all based on real historical figures.

Young Giorgio is apprenticed to the oft-overlooked Renaissance painter Andrea del Sarto (played by Samuel Muniz).  The one act, which delves into del Sarto’s inner conflict between his love for his unfaithful wife, Lucrezia (Virginia Bosch), and his commitment to his art.  The interesting historical note is that Giorgio, who plays a seemingly insignificant role, turns out to become the real-life biographer of del Sarto and the first ever art historian.  “It will be interesting to see how I play the character who ends up being the storyteller,” Jeremiah commented.  But that’s not the only challenging part of his role: the entire play is in verse.

Jeremiah is faring well with his new environment, be it having his feet measured for Renaissance-style footwear, working with a cast of all adults, or spending hours discussing the history behind the characters and situation in The Faultless Painter.

But walking around in Renaissance shoes and a vest will be completely worthwhile, because “It feels great to be able to say to yourself, ‘Jeremiah, you are in an Off-Off-Broadway show.’”

The Faultless Painter will be performed March 1st at 9 PM at The Hudson Guild Theater, as part of Series B of the Strawberry One-Act Festival, 441 West 26th Street, NYC (between 9th and 10th Avenue)
Tickets are available at 1-646-623-3488

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Evolution of a Filmmaker: An Interview with Sam Pollard, a Riant Theatre Pioneer of the Arts Award Recipient (February 16, 2013)

The Evolution of a Filmmaker: An Interview with Sam Pollard
By Jane Rubinsky

Film and television editor and documentary producer/director Sam Pollard receives the Riant Theatre’s 2013 Pioneer of the Arts Award for an extraordinary body of work that spans four decades.  His career encompasses both feature films and documentaries, working in nearly every capacity within the industry.  He has collaborated with filmmakers such as St. Clair Bourne and Spike Lee and won numerous awards.

He didn’t originally intend to be a filmmaker.  As a young man growing up in East Harlem, he set his sights on becoming an electrical engineer before deciding to study marketing at Baruch College.  Three years in, Pollard wasn’t at all happy.  A college counselor steered him into a film and television workshop at WNET/Channel 13, which had been started in 1968 after Dr. King’s assassination.  An effort to get more people of color behind the camera, the one-year program met two nights a week, bringing in professionals to teach how to shoot and edit, write scripts, and record sound.  Pollard, one of the youngest in the class, gravitated toward editing.  “It was the first time I ever felt like I was creative,” he recalls.  He also realized that he “could make a mistake and put it back together” without the scrutiny of being on location.  “As soon as I was alone in that editing room,” he says, “I knew I had found something that was for me.”

The following year, in 1972, Pollard was hired as an apprentice editor by Victor Kanefsky and worked as his assistant for the next three years.  “By the time I was 25,” says Pollard, “one of his clients who couldn’t afford him hired me to cut one of my first films.”

As a youngster, Pollard had loved old Hollywood movies; once he began studying the craft of film, he says, “I started to fall in love with Federico Fellini and Kurosawa and Robert Bresson, foreign filmmakers.  And then, as I focused on editing, I really started to look at films for who the editors were, and what they did in terms of bringing rhythm and pacing and storytelling structure to the film through the editing process.  Dede Allen, whose films like The Hustler, Bonnie and Clyde, Serpico, and Dog Day Afternoon I thought were phenomenally put together, was a big influence on me editorially.”

Pollard’s first project with Kanefsky was a feature; his second was a documentary, and he was introduced to a whole new world that he fell in love with.  “What I came away with after working with him for a few years on documentaries,” says Pollard, “was how important the role of the editor was in really being a surrogate director, and shaping the story and direction of a film in the editing process.  You really did that in documentaries, where you didn’t have scripts; you had to really figure out – sometimes by yourself and sometimes with the director or producer – the arc of a film and how to tell the story.”  Style Wars (1983), a documentary on graffiti culture that he co-edited with Kanefsky for PBS and which won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1984, remains one of his favorite projects to this day.

He has collaborated with Spike Lee for more than two decades, as editor on films such as Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, and Bamboozled as well as co-producer/editor on documentaries like the Oscar-nominated 4 Little Girls (1997) and the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning When the Levees Broke (2006).  Working with Lee is “a really interesting kind of dynamic,” he says.  “It’s never been one where there’s a lot of open dialogue between us.  He’s a very strong director; we will screen the footage together and he’ll give me his notes and thoughts about what he likes and doesn’t like, and I’ll take my own notes, and then I’ll shape the sequences according to his notes and my notes.  Then I’ll show it to him again, and he’ll give me feedback, and I’ll go back and change it again, and then show it to him again.  When I used to edit films for the late St. Clair Bourne, Saint and I would sit and philosophize and talk about sequences and the direction of the film for hours. With Spike, we’d never do that.”

At the helm of his own project last year, Pollard produced and directed Slavery By Another Name (2012), shedding light on the little-known system of forced labor that emerged after the abolition of slavery and which persisted until the onset of the second World War.  The documentary was broadcast nationally on PBS and was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.  The editor on the film was Pollard’s own son, Jason.  “He’s been coming into editing rooms ever since he was eight or nine,” says Pollard.  “We’d worked together before on some smaller projects, but this was gonna be a big one for both of us.  I used to brow-beat him a little,” he confesses, “but I don’t anymore.  He works hard and is a very creative editor; our relationship is one of give-and-take.”

Pollard began teaching at Columbia University in 1988 and has taught at New York University since 1994.  “To tell you the truth, I always liked the idea of giving back; I think that was one of the things that Victor taught me,” he says. “It’s important to share what you have with the next generation of people coming up in the business.  I really love looking at these young people and getting them excited.  And the students just keep energizing me and making me still feel excited about filmmaking.”

He is currently in pre-production with WQED in Pittsburgh on a documentary for American Masters about the life and work of playwright August Wilson, to be broadcast sometime in 2014.  As filmmaking technology changes nearly every day, says Pollard, things can be done faster; the look and feel is different.  “Now, we don’t edit with physical film anymore; we edit with computers.  What people need to remember is, even though the technology has evolved, the thing that’s really important in making anything creative is what’s in a human being’s mind – what you think and how you view the world.  It’s still what’s inside a human being that informs how you make your films and gives them that vision.”
* * * * *
The Riant Theatre and the Founder & Artistic Director Van Dirk Fisher, will be honoring Sam Pollard with the PIONEER OF THE ARTS AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM & ENTERTAINMENT at the Screening of the Video Diaries Project on Saturday, February 16, 2013 at the Tribeca Grand Hotel - Cinema, 2 Avenue of Americas, NYC at 3:45pm.  For tickets to this event go to

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Video Diaries Project: A Series of Short Films, Saturday February 16, 2013 at 3:45PM at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, 2 Avenue of the Americas, NYC

The Video Diaries Project: A Series of Short Films, Saturday February 16, 2013 at 3:45PM at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, 2 Avenue of the Americas, NYC

Screening of The Video Diaries Project: A Series Of Short Films
About the Artists in the Strawberry One-Act Festival
Saturday, February 16, 2013
At the Tribeca Grand Hotel
2 Avenue of the Americas, NYC
2 Blocks South of Canal St.

Screening #1 at 3:45 p.m.
Short Documentary Films based on the following plays:
  • Nobody's Man
  • Chip Bolcik - A Writer's Story about the play The Blizzard

  • 4 Murders & A Suicide
  • Ohio Bites Back
  • Kate The Great about the artist in the play Hello, Red

  • Dramatic Paws
  • Saving Legs
  • Behind Three Shots a film by Claude Isbell
Screening #2 at 5:15 p.m.
Short Documentary Films based on the following plays:
  • Robot Rising by Julia Rae Maldonado, about the artists in When Greenland Melted...The Robot Rose

  • The G Train
  • Perfect
  • a tree without blossom by Sima Jafari. About the artists in A Love Story

  • Follow the Red Lines to the Gates of Paradise
    by Yvette King

  • Three's A Crowd a film about the artist in the play Hunger

  • Plastic Couch
  • Trash Salmon a film about the artists in A Broken Liver and a Cataract

Award for Best Short Film will be
Presented at the Awards Ceremony & Performance
For the Strawberry One-Act Festival

Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 5PM
At the Hudson Guild Theatre
441 West 26th Street, NYC
Between 9th & 10th Avenue