For the third year in a row, OnyxFest – the state’s only live theatre festival for Black playwrights, and partner IndyFringe Theater are collaborating with the Butler Arts and Events Center (BAEC) to stream all six shows of OnyxFest 2022 in Celebration of Black History Month.
All six plays sponsored by the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI) are now streaming through the end of February on the Butler Arts and Events Center (BAEC) platform. They can be accessed without charge at https://flyrail.butlerartscenter.org/onyxfest.
The 2022 season was the most successful out of all 12 years of OnyxFest and had a 63% increase in ticket sales over the previous year. The screening collaboration with the Butler Arts and Events Center and the Jordan College of the Arts extends the production well beyond Indianapolis to a worldwide audience. Play submissions for OnyxFest 2023 are being accepted until midnight, March 10 at onyxfest.com.
This year’s lineup features the following plays:
- “BLACK IS MY COLOR” written by Celeste Williams and co-directed by TaMara E’Lan G and Manón Voice. Explores the experience of being a black woman by two women of different generations through the words and wisdom of Mari Evans.
- “HOUSELESS, NOT HOMELESS” written by Michael Florence and directed by Eric Washington. The story of five homeless people, how they came to be homeless and how they survive day-to-day.
- “MAJESTIES” written by Charla Booth and directed by Shandrea Funnye. Portrays three Black women from different generations as they meet on a journey to discover themselves and their worth.
- “A NOISE IN THE ATTIC” written by Vernon A. Williams and directed by Debora Farrell. Reveals how the lives of a frustrated suburban housewife, neglectful husband and disrespectful stepdaughter become complicated by sudden, unexplained noises in their new house.
- “POLICE STATE” written and directed by Rain Wilson. The story of a black man, who loses his life at the hands of a white cop, and how the tragedy galvanizes the community and takes his family on a journey that threatens to tear apart the love that held them together.
- “YOUR LOVE WILL BE JUDGED” written and directed by Gabrielle Patterson. Depicts six jurors residing in a world where divorce is only an option if a jury of your peers says so.
The Butler collaboration provides a platform to reach a broad audience.
“OnyxFest offers us an opportunity to bring a diverse voice to our online presence,” states Lisa Brooks, Dean of the Jordan College of the Arts. “We are honored to partner with A.R.T.I., IUPUI, and IndyFringe Theatre to support this important festival.”
The Butler Arts and Events Center (BAEC) serves Butler University, Indianapolis, and the larger Central Indiana community by hosting more than 300,000 patrons annually for a variety of presentations that provide shared experiences in the performing and visual arts.
In the three years of streaming OnyxFest on the BAEC platform, approximately 45% of the viewing audience came from central Indiana. The national audience stretched into Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, Atlanta, Phoenix, Denver, and Houston. Global viewership inclulded Austria, Brazil, Finland, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Netherlands, Singapore, and France.
The collaboration comes at a time when the need to amplify Black voices in the performing arts coincides with rising scrutiny of racism and social injustice. IUPUI Communication and Community Engagement Strategist and OnyxFest Executive Director Vernon A Williams, commented:
“There is a history of Black artists having their work appropriated, dismissed, misinterpreted, and negatively scrutinized. This is expressly related to the perpetuation of anti-Black racism that is endemic in our society. OnyxFest is a vital outlet for narratives about Black life absent in the larger social imaginary.”
OnyxFest 2022 was made possible by funding from a Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) Fund, IUPUI, IU Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity & MultiCultural Affairs, IndyFringe, Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, and the Indianapolis Recorder.