The Riant Theatre will kick off the Strawberry One-Act Festival with a launch party and reception presenting Pioneer of the Arts Awards honoring Liesl Tommy, Obie winning director from South Africa, and Peter Anthony Andrews, the first African American TV network entertainment vice president, on Sunday, July 26 at the Poet’s Den Theatre, 309 East 108th Street from 3:00pm – 7:00pm. Tickets for the event are $50.
Born in a colored township outside Cape Town, Tommy’s family fled apartheid to Massachusetts when she was a teen. Her imaginative staging of original Off-Broadway shows The Good Negro at the Public Theatre and her Obie win for the play Appropriate have earned accolades. Tommy’s novel re-imagining of regional theatre productions of Les Miserables, Hamlet, A Raisin in the Sun, Piano Lesson, Ma Raney’s Black Bottom and Ruinedhave garnered her the reputation as one of theatre’s most exciting directors. Andrews is a pioneering African American executive in the entertainment industry. He’s been vice president of NBC Entertainment, senior vice president at Columbia Pictures and executive vice president of MGM Studios. Considered the first African American television executive with the power to green light shows, during his tenure at NBC Entertainment from 1973 to 1979, the network broadcast landmark shows considered today’s TV classics: Adam 12, Columbo, McCloud, Banacek, Quincy, Ironside, Rockford Files, Chico and the Man, Chips, Little House on the Prairie, Shogun and many more.
Under the direction of Van Dirk Fisher, founder of the Riant Theatre, the Strawberry One-Act Festival Pioneer ofthe Arts Awards and reception includes a screening of the “Video Diaries Project,” short films created by the competing playwrights. “ Liesl Tommy is an important and viable voice in theatre. Her direction and vision in re-imagining works is a refreshing and welcoming addition to the theatrical community,” said Fisher. “Peter A. Andrews, a true pioneer of the entertainment industry, has proven again and again to be an amazing force to be reckoned with as a visionary, businessman, writer and producer. These two honorees inspire me to achieve my personal best.”
The Riant Theatre brings its 28th Season of the Strawberry One-Act Festival to Harlem with over 30 plays from mainstream to multicultural from August 5 – 23 at the Tato Laviera Theatre, 240 East 123rd Street. For more information on all events, please check out the website at www.therianttheatre.com or call 646-623- 3488.