Indy’s first and only theater festival dedicated to the stories of Black playwrights.

Presented by the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.), School of Liberal Arts, School of Education, and Office of Community Engagement

OnyxFest 2020 Season

Tickets on sale now! OnyxFest productions to be featured in the 2021 IndyFringe Festival

Two plays from OnyxFest 2020 were invited to participate in the 2021 IndyFringe Festival.

I Feed You Defiance, by Rain Wilson, and Being Black, by Vernon A. Williams, will run August 19 – September 5, 2021. 

OnyxFest 2021 Plays

The following are the five plays for this year’s event:

“1200 Miles From Jerome” 

By Crystal Rhodes

In the 1940s during World War II, a mother, her two daughters, a young school teacher and a fourteen- year-old Japanese American fugitive from an internment camp are forced to leave the town of Jerome, Arkansas and flee over 1200 miles to New York City. The journey is filled with danger, one that could prove to be a daunting experience, in which “driving while black” could mean the difference between life and death.

“Fly Blackbird Fly–Voices We Can’t Unhear”

By Latrice P. Young

A choreopoem recounting traumatic experiences of several Black women. Each woman is at her breaking point and desperately wants to escape the cages they’re in, but this can only happen if they’re willing to relax, relate, and release.

“Ransom Place” 

By Jameel Amir Martin

Two unlikely companions holding on to a precious thing, reluctant to leave a special place, must contend with forces that would spur their belated departure.

“That Day in February” 

By Janice Morris Neal

Three children now adults are faced with the possibility of their father being paroled after killing their mother 16 years ago. The youngest – now 18 – doesn’t remember her father or that day and wants to meet with him against her siblings wishes. One decision could change the lives of everyone involved.

 “This Bitter Cup”

By Charla Booth

A Black family in the rural south in the 1950’s struggle to find balance in their lives. A son who wants an education to rise above the limitations of the old south and a daughter whose dreams are thwarted by being Black and a woman and loved by the wrong man. A complicated entanglement that leaves us wondering if this family can find peace.

WFYI Documentary “OnyxFest 2020: written in Black”

On February 25, 2021, WFYI (TV) aired a 60-minute documentary featuring the making of OnyxFest, Indiana’s only Black theater festival. In addition to excerpts from OnyxFest 2020 plays, “OnyxFest 2020: Written in Black” featured interviews with playwrights, actors, and more.

This documentary produced by WFYI chronicled how OnyxFest sponsors–Indyfringe and Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (IUPUI)–overcame overwhelming obstacles to keep Black performing arts alive and thriving.

More about the Documentary:

In the throes of a global pandemic, the fate of the only Indiana theater festival showcasing African American playwrights was in peril. While auditions and rehearsals proceeded virtually, organizers pondered how the event could be salvaged. 

Right on cue, WFYI entered center stage with an offer to videotape all plays as well as provide professional post-production editing. That offer assured that important stories depicting Black life and culture would definitely have an audience through internet streaming. 

Confident in the production quality of WFYI, Butler University Arts and Events Center then offered its significant platform – which reaches 300,000 patrons annually – for streaming of all six OnyxFest plays during Black History Month February 2021. 

WFYI produced a 60-minute documentary special chronicling how OnyxFest sponsors – IndyFringe and Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI – overcame overwhelming obstacles to keep Black performing arts alive and thriving! That broadcast aired at 9:00 p.m. over television station WFYI.

In addition to excerpts from OnyxFest 2020 plays, the documentary featured  interviews with playwrights, directors, actors, longtime IndyFringe CEO & President Pauline Moffat as well as A.R.T.I. spokespersons Dr. Regina Turner and Dr. Khaula Murtadha.


Indy’s first and only theater festival dedicated to the stories of Black playwrights.

OnyxFest | Cavanaugh Hall, 425 University Blvd., Room 327, Indianapolis, IN 46202 | 317-274-8710 | contact@onyxfest.com