The Riant Book Club

THE PLACE TO MEET, MINGLE, DISH & DISCUSS! Once a month the Riant Book Club will converge at a fabulous restaurant in Manhattan and talk about 2 plays chosen from The Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival: Volume One, Two or Three. There is NO FEE to belong to the Club. Just read the selected plays for the day, rsvp to reserve your seat at the restaurant and then show up. Everyone pays for their own meals and/or drinks. So bring your business cards and dress to impress!

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Riant Book Club at Cucina Di Pesce on July 26, 2006

First of all I want to thank everyone who participated in the Riant Book Club's first event at Cucina Di Pesce. It was great to be reunited with friends and to make new ones. In attendance was playwright L.E. McCullough (photo: center), who wrote Make Her Happen, with director Kathleen Bishop (on the left) and his beautiful wife and actress Lisa Bansavage (on the right).

Also in attendance was playwright John Patrick Bray (photo: center), who wrote On Top, with the fabulous Ms. Karen Page, the host of Riant! Riant! Arts & Entertainment on Riant TV (RTV) (on the left) and John's beautiful wife Danielle (on the right). John and Danielle just got married two weeks ago. Don't they still have that newlywed glow? LOL Anyway they are getting ready to move to Louisiana, where Danielle will be working on her Phd. I assume John will inhale the beautiful surroundings and be inspired to write more plays with a southern flavor. Only now I'm sure some of it will have a distinct Cajun style that will make your mouth water and your toes curl with delight.

The wonderful actress Joan Gr
een (photo: center) graced us with her presence. I wish some of you could have seen her play Lady MacBeth in MacBeth. She was simply elegant and frightening in her lust for power. That's me, Van Dirk Fisher, founder & artistic director of The Riant Theatre (on the left). Actor Justin Zell (on the right) was there and shared stories with us about an improv group that he's apart of at the Pitt Theatre, where they have been performing since January with the goal to lose weight. "The person who loses the most weight wins $1,000," Justin said very glib and sure of himself. Now if that doesn't make you want to drop 10 pounds nothing will. Well I'm in a restaurant with a plate of succulant salmon sitting in front of me, so I was not thinking about watching my diet tonight. And John just mentioned that he caught a glimpse of the dessert tray -- so it was on, we're here to eat, drink and have fun! Well Justin told us he's already lost 28 pounds. Go Justin. I know you can do it man. Just so you know, Justin didn't eat anything that night, because he's determined to win. That's the spirit. Can someone pass me the bread? LOL

Well not to be out done, the lovely Vivian Ne
uwirth (on the right), who's an actress and playwright and the winner of the Best Actress Award for her performance in Fun On The Bayou (The Strawberry One-Act Festival, February 2006) joined us. No, she didn't bring the beautiful statue she won and place it on the table for all of us to see. She's too modest for all the fuss. Instead she was quite gracious as always and expressed her excitement in getting Volume 3 of The Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival, in which her play is published. Another published playwright in the 3rd Volume, Emmanuel Fleischmann (on the left with Vivian), who wrote The Upside Down Mirror, was also there. Rick Apicella, who was in that play won the Best Actor Award in The Strawberry One-Act Festival in February. At one point we engaged in a very spirited conversation about the topics of the two plays that we were set out to discuss: Make Her Happen, in which a waitress, who is teased by a stranger, a traveling talent scout, who fills her head with the dream of bringing her to the west coast and making her a star by introducing her to the right people, but she quickly turns the tables on him when she realizes that he's never going to come back to this small rural town to get her. So she decides to Make Her Happen
right now, the best way she can, by killing him. Influenced by a recent episode of The Nikki Wilfrey Show, in which five transvestite serial killers claiming to be Eliv Presley's love children were featured, the waitress quickly calls the local Eyewitness News and tells them to get a film crew out there. "I did it. I committed a hideous totally cold-blooded murder, and I want to be taken into custody. . . . Tell them there's a lot of blood and we're all naked. It was a real cult orgy, drugs and everything."

Karen Page thought that the talent scout brought it upon himself for playing with the waitress' emotions and toying with her dreams. I kinda agree. If he had walked into another diner the waitress might have just brushed his comments off and humored him to try to make a good tip. But unfortunately he walked into the wrong diner that night at 2am, and this waitress was just waiting for her opportunity and he was -- tall, dark and handsome, with enough star quality that the news media would stand and take notice if one of their big time talent scouts was to meet his maker, so to speak. Anyway I loved seeing the play Make Her Happen when it was in the Strawberry One-Act Festival in 2004, featuring soap star Timothy D. Stickney from ABC's One Life To Live and Elizabeth Bunnell. I would love to see it as a film. It would be a great Twight Zone episode.

Well if you think Make Her Happen is something, in On Top, Janice, a grocery worker, is confronted by her out of work boyfriend at her job. Seems that he found some evidence that is bothering him and he wants her to do some explaining. What did he find you may ask? Well, it was in a garbage bag in the trash can outside of their home, but what was in it is what's the killer. In it was two empty Corona bottles, lemon peels, and a scented candle and some cheese on a platter. Girl friend almost got away with it, trying to pass it off as something she had herself. Only thing is her boyfriend Bill's not dumb. He knew that she would never buy a cheese that he doesn't like and plus she likes her Corona's with lime not lemon. BUSTED! You heard me. Girlfriend was busted. She started peddling backwards fast, but not f
ast enough. Finally, she admitted she was with Mike, the Great Bood, who works in the deli at her store. She confessed she was horny, and since Bill hasn't been up to his duties, and kinda down (if you get my drift) since he's been out of work, she said she had to take matters into her own hands. So the Great Bood comes over. He had been bragging about what he has that drives all the girls crazy so she decides she wants to find out for herself. Well he comes over and no doubt while he's standing there with a six pack (of Coronas) he has in his basket something HUGE that would even make her vibrator jealous. So she takes things into her own hands. I would tell you more, but you'll have to buy the book and read it for yourself. It's all in Volume Two of The Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival. You can get it from or

Well anyway, needless to say, with all this talk about powerful women who decide to take things into their own hands and control of their life, Jason said, "It looks like both these women tried to Make It Happen by being On Top." That kinda explains the expression on my face while I was sitting next to Sharon Zaslaw, who's an actress and a belly dancer, who performed at the Outdoor Strawberry Festival this past Sunday. Let's just say, baby's got back and rack. Did I say that? (For photos of Sharon in her belly dancer's costume look below.)

Sharon asked the men how they felt about strong women. John said that he preferred a strong woman to a weak woman. Manny pointed out that a strong woman was good, but she needed to be flexible. Don't ask me, but yes, my mind went there too and Sharon and I shared another good laugh and then shared the joke with the group.

In all we had a great time. Some people didn't want to answer the question: "What would you do if you found out that your lover had an affair?" Well even though only a few addressed this question, John Patrick Bray, who wrote On Top, admitted it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. And as his newlywed wife Danielle stated, "Once you ask for permission to have an affair, you can pretty much assume the act has already occured, and maybe now the only reason for asking permission is to do it in the open without being reprimanded." I'm a little more selfish. I'm not willing to share. If that's the case why get married at all or be in a relationship. Monique of Fat Chance, said on The View today that her and her husband have an agreement to be open with each other. So she can deal. She realizes that she's married to her best friend and she wants to be realisitic. I guess if you're a big enough person to forgive a person for their infidelities you can do that. But don't ask Christie Brinkley to do that. From what I hear Peter Cook is still in the dog house. And he may stay there for awhile. I don't think he's really sorry. I think he's just sorry he got caught. Let's face it. If it wasn't brought to light that he had an affair with that 18 year old girl he'd probably still be jiggling it with every young lady he could catch.

But enough gossip. The next Riant Book Club event is on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at Piccolo, 226 Third Avenue. RSVP if you plan to attend at Write Riant Book Club in the subject line and give us your name and how many people are in your party. It's going to be a good time. Remember you must buy the book and read the plays we are going to discuss before the event.

The two one-act plays we will be discussing are Monkey Rhythms by John Baldi. Three generations of a family deal with their love for each other. When confronted with pain, love deteriorates into bitterness and denial. And The Kissing Booth by David Risk. A woman uses her job at a County Fair Kissing Booth as a diversion from an inescapable dilemma. Both plays are in The Best Plays From The Strawberry One-Act Festival: Volume Two.


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