After receiving a record number of scripts for consideration, organizers of OnyxFest Indianapolis announced today that for the first time, there will be both fall and spring festivals for the state’s only theatrical showcase exclusively for Black playwrights.
Sponsored by the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.) in conjunction with IndyFringe, OnyxFest Fall 2022 is scheduled for November 3 – 6 and November 10 – 13. The inaugural Spring OnyxFest is set for the first two weekends of April in 2023. Plays will be staged at the Basile Theatre IndyFringe and the IUPUI Campus Center Theater.
OnyxFest Executive Producer Vernon A. Williams said playwrights chosen will be funded for production costs that include royalties, venue for rehearsal and performances, marketing and promotion, production development, make-up, costume, set design, and video recording as well as stipends for actors, technicians, directors, and stage managers.
ARTI Manager Dr. Les Etienne, Director of Africana Studies and the Africana Center at IUPUI, said planners are excited about the proliferation of interest in and recognition for Black theater in Indianapolis. Jurors reviewed 40 submissions, exceeding the record number received last year, to determine selections. Plays chosen are as follows:
- “A BLACK FATHER’S PLEA” By Curtis Drake Shepard. One mother pushes her personal convictions aside in hopes that there is one last thing that can possibly reach a son lost to the streets; A Black Father’s Plea.
- “LAMENTS OF A BROWN BIRD SUMMER” By Cris Eli Blak. Tackles a subject matter that is so prevalent, and yet rarely discussed in the Black community: mental health.
- “MAJESTIES” By Charla Booth. Three Black women from three generations – each without a man – meet on a journey to discover themselves and their worth.
- “MERCY” By Rain Wilson. There is a school shooting and a young student who fell under the extreme influence and fear of another student, shoots a teacher.
- “YOUR LOVE WILL BE JUDGED” By Gabrielle Patterson. 6 jurors residing in a world where divorce is only an option if a jury of your peers says so, is quite the challenge when everyone has vastly different opinions about love and marriage.
- “ALL MONEY AIN’T GOOD” by Rosalyn Marsh. This story is about a man that is the mayor of a small town who has a girlfriend who is just like him, loud, bright, loves money (his money). Between the two of them their love (greed) for money gets them both in some pretty hot water.
- “BLACK IS MY COLOR” by Celeste Williams. In 1989, poet/philosopher Mari Evans wrote an essay entitled, “Ethos & Creativity” for a publication edited by David Hoppe. This story tries to capture her essence.
- “EBONY PEOPLE” by Steve Gold. A social comedy about a wealthy, aristocratic Black family in 1950s Memphis and their reaction to the nascent civil rights movement.
- “HOUSELESS NOT HOMELESS” by Michael Florence. The story of five homeless people, how they came to be homeless and how they survive day-to-day.
- “KUL CHA (CULTURE)” by McKenya Dilworth Smith. A story about saving a theatre which comes to represent what was good in the community; the happiness, the stories, the togetherness.
- “PIECES OF: THE MUSICAL” by Ricky Murasaki. A short musical about a young man’s journey into the afterlife.
The first-semester presentation of “CENTERSTAGE: A Theater Workshop” hosted by A.R.T.I. on campus will feature another of the plays selected – “One” written by Lanetta Overton. This play focuses on the issue of colorism within the Black community and will be performed and produced by students.
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.
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.