OnyxFest 2023

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Join us for an intimate evening of ebony elegance as we celebrate Black theater featuring live presentations from OnyxFest 2023 playwrights highlighting a “Reception and Reading” 6 to 8 pm Friday, October 6, 2023 at the Galleries at Eskenazi Fine Arts Center, 1410, Indiana Ave. Playwrights, actors, sponsors, and the general public are invited to attend.

Meet and greet writers Delores Thornton of Indianapolis, “Babe”; Deborah Patrick of Detroit, “Right Behind You”; Ardre Orie of Atlanta, “The Heart of a Man”; Levi Frazier of Memphis, “Tigonie” and Josiah McCruiston of Indianapolis, “5 Moods of Black Anguish.”

Meet the Playwrights!


Levi Frazier, Jr., Playwright
Levi Frazier, Jr., Playwright

Levi Frazier, Jr. is a published author, actor, playwright, director and producer. He is co-founder of Beale Street Repertory Company and Blues City Cultural Center in Memphis, TN, where he now serves as Artistic Director. Levi was an instructor for Department of Theatre and Communication Arts at the University of Memphis and for the English Department at State Technical Institute at Memphis.

Levi has written over fifty plays, musicals, or screenplays, and his work has been produced all over the country including New York, Chicago, Miami, Austin, Hollywood, and Memphis. His play, A TRIBUTE TO RICHARD WRIGHT, was produced, by invitation, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France for the African-Americans and Europe International Conference. His musical, Down on Beale Street had a run off-off Broadway at the Richard Allen Center in New York. In addition, his play, FOR OUR FREEDOM & YOURS was produced for the Memphis In May International Festival and, for the International Conference on Ira Aldridge in Lodz, Poland.

About the play:

The play is about a young psychologist, who after years of searching, finally meets the “man of her dreams” on a bench in a public park, but the meeting ends up being anything but a dream for the young lady, and the man whose past comes back to haunt him.

The Heart of a Man

Ardre Orie, Playwright
Ardre Orie, Playwright

Ardre Orie is a celebrity ghostwriter, book publishing expert, playwright, film director and CEO of 13th & Joan Publishing House. Orie has written for a host of clients including VH1, MTV, WETV, BRAVO, CENTRIC, YouTube, Grammy Award winning artists, the NFL, and entertainment industries as well as a bevy of entrepreneurs and everyday heroes.

Orie began her career as an author telling the stories of women in her local community at age 10. As author of CONSCIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL: I AM ENOUGH (2014), A HEROINE IN HEELS (2015) and LET YOUR LIPS SPEAK LIFE (2017); writer and director of the theatrical productions LIPSTICK MONOLOGUES and THE HEART OF A MAN; and film director of the documentary I AM CONSCIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL, Ardre Orie’s work sheds light on life’s experiences while closely examining the effects of mainstream media and societal norms that have defined our journeys and self-worth. In 2015, Orie founded 13th & Joan, a multimedia publishing agency to provide a vehicle for aspiring authors, playwrights and film directors to tell their stories and distribute them on a large scale with her support and guidance. Ardre Orie currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two daughters and a loving son in college.

About the play:

The Heart of a Man is a unique, all-male cast stage production that reveals the eye-opening and sometimes harsh truths on dating, marriage, sexuality, domestic violence and love, from the male’s perspective delivered through monologues and soliloquies that reflect the thoughts, desires, and frustrations of men.

5 Moods Of Black Anguish

Josiah Ray McCruiston, Playwright

Josiah Ray McCruiston is a multifaceted artist, spiritual leader, and teacher from Gary, IN. For several years, he worked as a gallery interpreter and actor at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. He has also worked as an arts integration specialist and coach for nationally ranked speakers, poets, and actors with the National Forensic Association circuit.

Josiah has directed productions at the Fonseca Theatre and has worked with the Christian Youth Theater (CYT). He has found great success as a workshop and masterclass coordinator with The Asante Art Institute, The Performing Arts Conservatory, The Indiana Arts Commission, Clause McNeal Productions, Fonseca Theatre Company, and the Forum for Theological Exploration. Josiah has been heavily involved in the Indianapolis theater community, serving as a community liaison for the Indiana Repertory Theatre and working tirelessly to promote and support the arts in his community. He has also completed Miesner training at The Phoenix Theatre, honing his craft and perfecting his skills as a performer and director. He currently serves as a Worship Leader and Minister at the Historic Witherspoon Presbyterian Church and as an effective arts educator. He is humbled by this amazing opportunity and is looking forward to what will come next. 

About the play:

Inspired by the works of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and August Wilson, this excerpt of a larger work entitled “5 Moods of Black Anguish” is an awe-inspiring theatrical masterpiece. Weaving a tapestry of storytelling, love for Black deities, and profound poetic expression. With a symphony of emotions and spiritual oration, it immerses audiences in a transcendent experience, revealing the triumphs, struggles, and resilience of Black culture. This enchanting play resonates with the glory and truth of the human experience, capturing the essence of collective anguish and illuminating the path toward liberation and empowerment. Prepare to be captivated by the artistry that unfolds on stage, where every word and gesture reverberates with power and resonance. You don’t want to miss this! 

Right Behind You

Deborah Patrick, Playwright

Deborah (D.L.) Patrick is a native Detroiter who holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from New York University. She has studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Charles Fuller and OyamO. Her play, STUDY IN BLACK (a.k.a. THE STUDY), about the infamous U.S. Public Health Service Study of Untreated Syphilis at Tuskegee, was produced by the Frank Silvera Writers Workshop, NYC, and was nominated for an AUDELCO Award. Her play, PASSAGES, was produced by Plowshares Theatre Company, Detroit, supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs.

Her play, ECLIPSED: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF GLADYS ATKINSON SWEET, was selected by The Playwrights Group, NYC, for a public reading in 2022. A monologue from her play, SALLIE’S CRYING TREE, was selected for Barter Theatre for Black Stories, Black Voices festival, and was performed in 2023 on the Gilliam Mainstage. She is a 2023 finalist for Think Tank Theatre’s TYA Playwrights Festival for her play ACTIVE SHOOTER, and is working on two new full-length dramas, DEMOLITION MAN, about a black WWII veteran breaking barriers; and INDUSTRY: DIEGO RIVERA IN DETROIT.

About the play:

As an elderly black woman lies in a coma, dying of COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic, her daughters and granddaughter reminisce about their experiences with her in the time leading up to her demise. This play asks the questions, what do we owe one another, and what do we owe ourselves.


Delores Thornton, Playwright

Delores Thornton is a Publisher, Author, Filmmaker, and Literary Entrepreneur who has received numerous awards. She is a licensed, ordained minister and a member of several organizations, most notably, the African American History Committee Advisory Board. She is also a certified Bereavement Facilitator with Brooke’s Place.

Thornton was honored as a Literary Trailblazer by EU (Everything Underground) in 2017 and a Local Literary Legend by Go On Girl Book Club in 2018. She is a graduate B.A. (Valedictorian) of Simmons College of Kentucky (HBCU) and has a Master’s Degree in Theology from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. Thornton has a passion for sharing the history of and to her Mighty People. The author of 7 books, 4 plays, and 4 films (1 feature and 3 shorts), Thornton recently starred in her short film IDA MAE 2 during the Short Film Festival at Arts for Lawrence (2022). Thornton also starred as Mari Evans in BLACK IS MY COLOR during OnyxFest 2022.

About the play:

Based on a true story about how therapy helps reveal the buried truths of an 82-year African American woman who reaches inner depth of self-realization.

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