After receiving a record number of scripts for consideration, organizers are announcing performance dates for the 12th annual OnyxFest – sponsored by the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.) in cooperation with IndyFringe Indianapolis.
The first of two consecutive weekends of OnyxFest 2022 performances will be staged from November 3rd through November 6th at the IndyFringe Basile Theatre at 719 East St. Clair. The second weekend will be in the IUPUI Campus Center Theater from November 10th through November 13th.
OnyxFest is the first and only theater festival in the state exclusively designed to showcase the works of Indiana Black playwrights. A.R.T.I. chairperson Les Etienne is excited about the growth of the event over the past three years. “In our first year, we struggled to collect a dozen scripts. This year, we received 40 entries.”
Etienne explained that each play is reviewed individually by a panel of six theatrical jurors with extensive experience and background in live stage production. Their critiques and rankings of the top seven submissions provide the base for the selection of five playwrights to be fully funded for production.
Playwrights selected for OnyxFest 2022 will be named during the first week of May.
OnyxFest Executive Producer Vernon A. Williams added, “From that point, playwrights will launch auditions and rehearsals which, for the first time in two years, may be live and not virtual. The uninterrupted production of OnyxFest safely even through the pandemic was nothing short of miraculous.”
“Barring any sharp spike in health concerns, organizers and theater goers can resume operations much closer to ‘normal,’ even if mask and vaccination requirements persist. The power of the arts and the capacity for people of the Africana diaspora to convey stories of Black life and culture in authentic voices is cathartic.”
For more information, please visit onyxfest.com.
About A.R.T.I. (Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI):
The Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI) is a program of study offered by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the School of Education and the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement using a multidisciplinary approach to “edutainment.” ARTI was developed to document and artistically reflect the history, cultural life, and politics of peoples of the African Diaspora. As a public arts initiative, ARTI has a deep commitment to and focuses on artistic and community engagement. The Office of Community Engagement and the Schools of Liberal Arts and Education are supporting this proposal because it advances the idea that learning in the arts is invaluable at all stages of life, and the integration of the arts into the fabric of community life may advance civic engagement while also creating a college and career pathway. Leslie Kenneth Etienne, ARTI manager and acting director of IUPUI Africana Studies, said his group also seeks to increase collaborations with local Black and other minority theatre groups in Indianapolis, launch a black events quarterly periodical and establish an advisory council for Black theater in the Indiana Avenue Cultural District. Along with Etienne, ARTI founders include Khaula Murtadha, associate vice chancellor for community engagement at IUPUI; Regina Turner, associate faculty in communication studies at IUPUI; Vernon A. Williams, communication and community engagement strategist at IUPUI; Susan Kigamwa, assistant director of development for both the School of Architecture and the School of Art at Yale University; and Abdul-Khaliq Murtadha, assistant professor for Department of Theatre and Dance at Auburn University.
The Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival (IndyFringe) founded in 2005 is a place, an event, a movement, an incubator for new talent and a magnet for imaginative and thoughtful people. IndyFringe established OnyxFest in 2011 to counter the lack of diversity both on stage and in audiences of Indianapolis theatre. The annual festival is a vehicle to expose theatergoers to new and emerging Black playwrights. IndyFringe is best known for the annual IndyFringe Festival that transforms Mass Ave in downtown Indianapolis into a vibrant, eclectic and exciting festival avenue. IndyFringe has been a catalyst for the resurgence of arts and culture in downtown Indianapolis. IndyFringe also operates two theatres on the fringe of Mass Ave; the IndyFringe Basile and Indy Eleven Theatres. They are known for presenting five mini-festivals including OnyxFest, amplifying the voices of African American playwrights, DivaFest, providing a stage for women’s voices, a festival of New Plays and Ten Minute Plays and the international Winter Magic Festival. The District Theatre at 627 Mass Ave has a rich LGBTQ history of community theatre and presents an eclectic mix of drama, dance, music and magic. IndyFringe has been a catalyst for the resurgence of arts and culture in downtown Indianapolis. IndyFringe extends its reach into the community with Fringe on Wheels, a mobile theatre which takes live theatre to artists and audiences who do not have access to traditional theatre experiences.