OnyxFest 2020

OnyxFest 2020 Program Book

A Bluesy Night

Aniqua Chatman

Aniqua Chatman – “A Bluesey Night” Aniqua ShaCole Chatman is an actress an playwright originally from Gary, IN. She began her career in performance at the age of 10. Her background in theater includes acting/vocal training at the Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High Ability Academy, Gary IN, acting/dance classes at The University of Northern Iowa, and on camera film study at Indy Actors Studio Workshops. Her credits list shows such as A Bluesy Night, The African Company Presents Richard III, August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and The Gifted Souls to name a few. Chatman has completed voice-over work in an online audio series Grown and Beautiful, appeared in the short film projects Oregano and Not My Pot and a feature film 5 Hours to Georgia. She also hosts numerous creative and artistic events in the city. Chatman is an alum of IUPUI. She is presently obtaining her master’s degree in Public Relations as an online student at Ball State University.


J. R. Baltimore

J. R. Baltimore – “Anniversary” J.R. Baltimore, whose first love is comedy, describes himself a fictitious character with a passion for writing. At the age of one, he found a 20 dollar bill that belonged to one of his older brothers, tore it in half to double his scribble paper, grabbed a pencil from the kitchen table and began scribbling. Though he did not yet know his alphabet, he was anxious to speak in complete sentences transfer his overactive imagination into writing. At the age of three, young Baltimore tried to read everything he could get his hands on, amassing a huge collection of comic books. By first grade he was drawing imaginary characters in storyboard boxes and writing dialogue in cartoon conversation bubbles. In the third grade, he received a double-promotion and went straight to the fifth. From that point, writing became his passion. In high school Baltimore wrote the script for several class plays. He was editor of the school newspaper and the yearbook. He earned a full scholarship to Northwest University where he completed a degree in Journalism.

Being Black

Vernon A. Williams

Vernon A. Williams – “Being Black” Vernon A. Williams is celebrating his 40th year as a playwright. His first work, “Whatever Happened to Blackness,” in 1980 was staged by the Gary Creative Theater Ensemble. Williams later co-founded the William Marshall Players in Gary IN. After moving to Indianapolis IN 2001 Williams produced “sonnets for my sistahs,” – from his book of the same title – an intimate collection of vignettes depicting seldomheard heartfelt expressions of men to women. The production premiered at the Madam C.J. Walker Theater and toured throughout the state. Williams staged productions include “Playin’ for Keeps,” a talk-show setting for relationship dialogue; “A Woman’s Place” following five college girls’ evolution over the next two decades after graduation; “True Colors” which examined reactions to the election of the nation’s first Black president; and “The Divine Nine,” offering a glimpse into dynamics of Black fraternities and sororities. In 2019, Williams wrote, produced. and directed “The Price of Progress: The Indiana Avenue/IUPUI Story.”

I Feed You Defiance

Rain Wilson

Rain Wilson – “I Feed You Defiance” Theater is a great gift for a writer to speak truth to power while empowering people who often are invisible or ignored and in this time where the world must crumble some to be rebuilt – the Onyx festival gives me permission and support to lean against the wind and be part of that rebuilding…” Rain Wilson is a writer, activist, director and arts educator – and believes in the power of the arts to build bridges and create a space for youth and community to walk into their voices and become a part of the change they want to see. She uses the stage to empower and build conversations around tough subjects like race, prison reform, homelessness, poverty and social justice. Wilson has a B.A. from Columbia College and an M.F.A. from Rutgers Masson Gross School of the Arts. Recently re-located from Chicago IL she is the Director of the Indiana Black Expo Arts Academy which empowers youth through dance, music, theatre and videography. Wilson’s recent inspirations unfold in “Jungle Kings” that details the impact of trauma on youth in urban streets “ I Feed You Defiance” which provides lessons for survival and light to fatherless young boys and men – and her one-woman show, “The Ink Never Dries” about the toll of activism today on the human heart – along with her latest commissioned art works, “Freedom in Hand” and “The Unheard”, dealing with the power of love, equality and the violence of silence. She is excited to share her passion with the Indianapolis community.

On The Corner

Michael Florence

Michael Florence – “On The Corner” Michael Florence is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis. Several years ago, he had the idea to write a One Act Play. His thought process was “maybe I could bring my novel to life” and have a better chance of telling a good story. To date, he has written two one act plays, “On the Corner” and “Understanding Tony.”Florence is also an avid photographer for weddings, portraits, and other special events. He regularly contributes “volunteer photography” to the American Diabetes Association and the Alzheimer’s Association. http://michaelflorencephotography.com. Florence has worked as a Lease Accounting Specialist for Simon Property Group over 21 years. He is a member of the Indianapolis Chapter of the National Black MBA Association an association of Blacks with master’s degrees in business and related disciplines. Florence received an associate degree in accounting from Ivy Tech in 1983; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1993 and master’s degree in business administration in 1997 from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Seven Days

Shandrea Funnye

Shandrea Funnye – “Seven Days” Shandrea Funnye is a writer, director, singer, songwriter, and actress originally from Chicago Il. She has been writing since third grade, which is also where she won her first young authors contest. A Warren Central High School graduate she also attended IUPUI. A mother to two beautiful children, Funnye focused more on her family and less on the arts. Years later she auditioned for a small part in a friend’s production. When selected as the lead, she knew the opportunity was a needed push back in the right direction. Since 2017 Funnye has written and produced five original stage plays, sold out numerous shows, written and produced a short film and is currently in production for the feature film “Seven Days”, based on the stage play. Funnye is most grateful for her children – her main source of motivation and her amazing mother, who supports her in everything she does. She would also like to thank her wonderful friends and family members who have supported her in this journey; whether they purchase a ticket, share a post, offer kind words, or show up and show out at each or every production they are helping to make a dream come true.

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