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OnyxFest 2022 Program Book
OnyxFest thanks you for supporting the 2022 season
OnyxFest would like to thank all involved in the most successful event in the 12-year history of this powerful and unique festival featuring the works of Black playwrights. OnyxFest is not only the first but remains the only Indiana theater festival exclusively dedicated to authentic stories depicting Black lives and culture.
OnyxFest 2022 playwrights featured on “Bring It On” radio show
The OnyxFest 2022 playwrights were featured on the “Bring It On!” radio show. Watch the recording now!
Meet the playwrights, directors, and cast!
Black Is My Color
Celeste Williams is a journalist, having worked 25 years for daily newspapers in Alabama, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Indiana. She won numerous awards for her writing, including Journalist of the Year and Reporter of the Year for a series on extreme poverty in Mississippi. More recently, she is a poet and playwright. Her play, “More Light: Frederick Douglass Returns,” was produced in 2017 and 2018 at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers in conjunction with Asante Children’s Theatre. She is a former president of the board of directors at the Indiana Writers Center and a volunteer tutor for School on Wheels, which serves children affected by homelessness.
About the play:
Two women of different generations explore the experience of being a black woman through the words and wisdom of Mari Evans. Mari Evans (1923-2017), was a writer, activist and philosopher. She moved to Indianapolis from Ohio in 1947, and grew to love her adopted city, where she lived and created until her death in 2017. The title comes from this line she wrote: “I look at the world through a black lens. Black is my color.” While Evans loved this city, that love gave her the space to scold it when necessary — and that she did, always through that “Black lens.” The characters in the play, as in her poem, look on her, and are renewed.
About the Directors of “Black Is My Color”:
TaMara E’Lan G. – as a director the work that most interests her is representing the culture, history and often marginalized voices of our people in the most honest, creative and authentic light. To support the playwright’s vision and hard work, while honoring and bringing their truths to life.
Manón Voice is deeply interested in exploring storytelling as a reclamation of power within the Black experience; meaning we have agency and creative freedom in what stories we wish to tell about who we are, who we decide can tell them, and how we want those stories to be told, as means and process of our ongoing liberation.
Cast of “Black Is My Color”:
Paige Elisse, Delores Thornton, Marlena Johnson, Amani Muhammad, Ellen Price Sayles Lane
Houseless, Not Homeless
Michael Florence began writing one-act plays in 2005. His first play, “On The Corner,” was staged and produced at OnyxFest 2020. Since, he has written two other one-act plays, “Understanding Tony” and “Houseless, Not Homeless.” He has a part-time photography business, Michael Florence Photography, and is a member of the Indianapolis Chapter of the National Black MBA Association, serving as Corporate Partnership Development Director.
About the play:
The average American is only two missed paychecks away from being on the street. Houseless not Homeless follows the stories of five ordinary people living under extraordinary circumstances, how they became houseless, and the trials and celebrations of their every-day lives. Touching and deeply personal, this poignant play reminds us that houselessness can happen to anybody.
About the Director of “Houseless, Not Homeless“:
Eric Washington is a writer, director, acting coach, rapper and philanthropist. He has provided countless opportunities for local artists to elevate, develop and showcase their talent both on and off the stage. Eric has produced several stage productions in Indianapolis and is currently producing his first TV series entitled Welcome to Haughville. Eric believes in the power of tenacity and knows your talent will only grow if you are hungry enough to risk losing everything to make your dreams a reality.
Cast of “Houseless, Not Homeless”:
Dominique Hawkins, George Gooding, Ronnie Watts, Quinton Hayden, Jetta Vaughn, Zach Dzuba
Charla Booth is an MFA Playwriting candidate at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing, Spalding University. Charla taught acting, technical theatre, and theatre production at the Emerson School of Visual & Performing Arts (Gary) and the Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities for almost 40 years. She has served as a Technical Director of the Madam Walker Theatre, lighting designer and engineer for plays, concerts and dance productions, and the director and/or artistic director for dozens of plays. Charla has turned her passions inward and is devoted to writing and staging touching dramadies that inspire and encourage positivity within the Black community.
About the play:
Three Black women from three generations – each struggling with their past – face their realities as they journey together to discover their truths, their values and worth. This empowering play asks, “What do you want that you can have?” invoking hope in healing and the resilience of black women throughout generations.
About the Director of “Majesties”:
Shandrea Funnye is a writer, director, singer, songwriter, and actress in the Indianapolis area. This is Shandrea’s third time participating in OnxyFest, this time doubling as both actress and director. Shandrea is a full time mother to two beautiful children and credits them for being her motivation and inspiration. Shandrea is honored to have been trusted to be part of the production Majesties and hopes to inspire all who see the show.
Cast of “Majesties”:
Shandrea Funnye, Megan Simonton, Daniel Martin, Brittany Taylor, Jamillah Gonzalez, Katherine Adamou
Your Love Will Be Judged
Gabrielle Patterson is a spoken word artist, actress, and playwright that hails from Indianapolis, Indiana. She has been performing across the country for more than 15 years, perfecting her craft and learning the art of speaking. She has opened for acts such as Erykah Badu and Anthony Hamilton with her spoken word and has been a participant in the Fringe Festivals previously. Gabrielle is honored to be working with Onyxfest this year, and is excited for the opportunity to bring “Your Love Will Be Judged” to the stage!
About the play:
Six 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. “Your Love Will Be Judged” allows you to peer into the deliberations of a group of people from different age groups, social backgrounds, and schools of thought, and brings them together in an explosive and sometimes funny view of relationships. How would you vote? What are your views? Will you agree? Let’s see….
Cast of “Your Love Will Be Judged”:
Alicia Sims, Jacob Pettyjohn, D’yshe Mansfield, Michael Martin Drain, Haleigh Rigger, Rodney Smith
Rain Wilson, founder of Life Change Projects, is sought after for her ability to teach, empower, and spark change with her poetic writing. Rain has an MFA from Rutgers University. Rain recently co-wrote a play that was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis in June. She had the pleasure of bringing to the OnyxFest stage in 2020, “I Feed You Defiance,” which was crafted around seven women and the lessons they give to their black and brown sons to keep them alive. Rain’s newest undertaking is a leap into building a body of Acting and Performance Master Classes for artists in Indianapolis, so they can have a reliable, nurturing, and challenging place to train to be able to live honestly in all they do on stage and film.
About the play:
When silence and peace is no longer an option and the levee breaks – that is where the story begins. Amadi, an unarmed black man, loses his life at the hands of a white cop, an act that galvanizes the community and takes his family on a journey that threatens to tear apart the love that held them together. When some are unable to part from their values, it becomes clear that all roads lead to a stand that a single family member must grapple with taking – A stand that will change everything.
Cast of “Police State”:
D’Anthony Massey, Shakisha Michelle, Atiyyah Radford, Deont’a Stark, Bryan Gallet, Rain Wilson
Executive Producer Presents…
A Noise in the Attic
Vernon A. Williams was the first African American news reporter at the Gary Post-Tribune, where he also became a columnist and a member of the editorial board. He is former Managing Editor for Gary Info Newspaper and is currently a columnist for the Chicago & Gary Crusader Newspapers. Also in media, Williams was Station Manager of WGVE FM in Gary, and morning drive air personality, hosting “The Breakfast Club” on WLTH AM in Gary. He served as News Director and evening anchor for CableVision News in Gary and CEO of Paragon Advertising.
Since relocating to Indianapolis in 2001, Williams served as Marketing Supervisor for the IPS Career and Technology Center for 11 years before becoming Vice President of Communications for Indiana Black Expo, Inc. He left IBE to become Assistant to the Chancellor for Communication under Dr. Charles R. Bantz. Chancellor Nasser Paydar appointed Williams Communication and Community Engagement Strategist for the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement. Williams graduated Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Purdue University with a Master’s in Communication.
Williams has been a playwright and producer since 1980. He co-founded the William Marshall Players in Gary, IN. After moving to Indianapolis, IN in 2001, Williams produced “Sonnets for my Sistahs,” – from his book of the same title – an intimate collection of vignettes offering seldom-expressed, intimate thoughts about relationships. The production premiered at the Madam C.J. Walker Theater and toured the state. Plays include “Playin’ for Keeps,” a talk-show setting for relationship dialogue; “A Woman’s Place,” five college girls’ evolution over two decades; “True Colors,” diverse reactions to the election of the nation’s first Black president; and “The Divine Nine,” a glimpse into Black fraternity and sorority life.
In 2019, Williams wrote, produced and directed “The Price of Progress: The Indiana Avenue/IUPUI Story.” Williams “Being Black” premiered during OnyxFest in October 2020. It was featured on the Butler Arts and Entertainment Center platform and the WFYI documentary, “OnyxFest 2020: Written in Black.” Williams’ latest plays, “Democracy Hypocrisy: The Red, White and Blues of Freedom (co-written with Rain Wilson and Latrice P. Young), premiered in June 2022 and “A Noise in the Attic” debuts at OnyxFest 2022! Williams is Executive Producer of OnyxFest and is a leader of the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.).
About the play:
After seven years of marriage, a dedicated suburban housewife struggles with a husband who is only married to his career! And to make it worse, her stepdaughter’s insolent behavior is making any semblance of peaceful family life impossible. When her husband asks her find whatever is making that annoying noise in the attic, something magical happens! This family-friendly romcom with a twist reminds you to follow your dreams, even when everyone else has given up on them.
About the Director of “A Noise in the Attic”:
Debora Farrell is a playwright and director. Since 1997, her plays have been featured in various cities such as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Detroit. Farrell has written and directed plays entitled: “We Fall Down But We Get Up”, Until Death Do Us Part”, “Chains-Where is God?”, “Mama I Want To Dance”, “Mercy Saw Me”, “Prodigal Son Come Home”, and many others. “With God I have touched lives through my productions,” Farrell said. Her mission is not only to provide quality entertainment but to display real-life issues through the lens of fictional characters. Her passion and commitment to the arts is also her way of sharing faith, hope, joy, and love to all audiences.
Cast of “A Noise In The Attic”:
VaJaun “Vae” Savage, Atiyyah Radford, ShaQuan Davis, Selena Jackson-King, Angela Wilson-Holland, Jamillah Gonzalez
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