Stream New Black Plays (for Free)

One of the many things I love about the Obsidian Theatre Festival (OTF), is that we stream our work! It is a unique component of both OTF and the festival I co-founded, the Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival. It is very valuable component to me because when my kids were younger, my ability to see live theatre in New York city was great impeded by finances. I couldn’t afford childcare, nor did I have enough money to pay for theatre tickets on a regular basis. In fact, I never stood in line for Free Shakespeare in the Park tickets, a NYC ritual. It’s not that I didn’t want to, but, I was working while in grad school, and once I had kids, the idea of standing in line was not my ideal scenario. When I was able to see the occasional show, (not at the small white-box where I worked), a friend usually had to watch my kids, or their dad stayed with them if he wasn’t working. It’s actually something that I think about often because I have been there, and I want parents and caregivers to still be able to see theatre without the mental gymnastics of who is going to care for their child / children or family member, and the financial inquiry as to whether or not they can afford it.

With the rise in streaming and virtual productions during the height of the pandemic and lockdown, I am as passionate as ever about being part of any organization that prioritizes accessibility in this way.

So, if you are looking for ways to support the work I produce AND Black theatre from the comfort of your own home, if you have a child or family member to care for, or if finances are tight, then check out OTF.

The Obsidian Theatre Festival is an annual Black theatre festival that takes place at the end of June in downtown Detroit. It’s hard to believe that we are entering our 4th season this year! It is my 3rd season as part of the festival, but I watched that first year and took notes, messaging John my thoughts at the end of each stream or chatting after the fact. It was exciting to watch him do the livestream each night (channeling our hometown Channel 7 Action News) and although that aspect of the festival has not continued, we are providing free access to the work that we produce every year.

This year, the festival will be entering its 4th Season, running June 27 – 30th. Prior to the Festival, the week will begin with the GhostLight Arts Initiative‘s Inaugural Detroit IMPACT Arts Conference. More on that in the coming weeks! But the Propulsion Theatre Project that we launched as part of our Mellon Funding we received has a symposium there and this is a real chance for our audiences to engage with the Ghostlight Arts Initiative separate from the festival! Dr. Rashida Harrison and Sarae Daniels have been the backbone of GLAI over the last several seasons. Sarae has been with GLAI and the festival since it began in the Arts Education department, and Dr. Harrison has always been a guest or panelist in the post-show conversations that are a big part of the education content that founder, John Sloan III finds essential. I cannot wait to share the speakers and panelists that will be part of this season’s Inaugural conference. It will be an exciting (and exhausting) week, and I am so honored to be part of this team doing this work in my hometown.

The 4 finalists this season are: Aaron Mays with “Black Santa”, Prentiss Matthews III with “The Golden Loc” , Azure D. Osborne-Lee with “Crooked Parts” and Lori Roper with “The Sisters Grey”.

You can also read more about those plays and playwrights here.

I sincerely hope that you make your way to the festival this summer in Detroit. Before you book your flights or reserve your FREE tickets or purchase a festival pass to support, you can stream plays, panels and additional content from the first 3 seasons for Free on our website!

You can visit the OTF website to join. OTF has 3 streaming options, and each month two featured pieces or “spotlight productions” will be highlighted and shared on the festival’s website.  Interested viewers can visit and subscribe to any one of the three streaming packages: Slate, Noir and Black Pearl.  Subscribers can enjoy Free access to all Featured and Educational Content with Slate.  Noir is available for $1/ week with access to Featured and Educational Content plus a Free Gift.  Noir+ is the annual version with a Discounted rate of $50/year.  A Monthly subscription option is available with Black Pearl for $10/month.  It includes advance invitations to Special Events and a Free Gift.  Black Pearl+ is the Annual option at $100/year.

Watch two excerpt from “The Underground Color Wheel” by Cris Eli Blak which was part of Season 3 below!

ABOUT THE PLAY: In The Underground Color Wheel, we follow the twenty-year journey of painter Ivory Nichols. Despite coming from humble beginnings, Ivory doesn’t dream of being a good artist, he dreams of being a great artist. As his success grows and he begins to see his biggest dreams coming true, he finds the support of his “Ebony Mona Lisa,” Ashlyn, his best friend, Enzo, and his assistant, Lorelei. As time goes by and the pressures of success weigh heavier, the line between his art and his life begin to blur, putting everything on the line.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: Cris Eli Blak’s work has been produced around the world. He is the winner of the Black Broadway Men Playwriting Initiative and is currently the artist in residence at the State University of New York – Oswego and the recipient of the Emerging Playwrights Fellowship from The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre.

I am thrilled to share this work with you. Please let us know what you think and spread the word. Support like yours keeps projects like this going and supports local artists.

PLAYWRIGHTS: Submit to the 4th Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival


It's been a busy summer full of professional and personal high and low, but I am energized by my work supporting Black artists around the country!  The Obsidian Theatre Festival, in my hometown of Detroit, MI is one of the things that keeps me going these days.  The 3rd Annual festival was this past June, and while we finish the prep for the streaming of this year's festival, we are gearing up for the 4th Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival with submissions opening much earlier this year!

Stay tuned to this space, for more details, but Playwrights - mark your calendars for our Submission period that runs from Tuesday, August 15, 2023 until Friday, September 22, 2023

We are so excited to open up submissions for Playwrights, submitting plays for our main stage and for Composer, Lyricists and Book Writers or their teams for our Musical Theatre Showcase.

Full details and submission guidelines will be available following our Tuesday, August 15th announcement and Press Release, but I look forward to sharing it all with you and getting to know your work (or that of a friend or colleague of yours).

For further details, visit the Obsidian Submission page, HERE!

In the News: LinkedIn and WDET – Detroit

Hi again!

Sharing some interviews I've had over the last month or so.

1st up, I was on the LinkedIn News podcast, Hello Monday with Jessi Hempl.  My friend, Sarah Storm, who has been a consist support of my work for years now is a podcast producer there.  I was on another podcast she produced for the Dramatists Guild a few years ago, "TALKBACK".  The episode was on collaborating with a marketing Department 🙂 

This Hello Monday episode was special because it's not often I get to speak about my parenting journey outside of my own festival.  I got very emotional a couple times and we chatted for such a long time.  The episode has several parenting perspectives.  It is a really nice listen and I was honored to actually be asked to participate.

You can check out the weekly newsletter that Hello Monday posts on LinkedIn Here.  This one focuses on "Balancing Career Ambition and Parenting: Real Stories and Expert Advice" and includes the episode that I was on.

LISTEN to our HELLO MONDAY Episode: "Parenting: Getting Timing Right" HERE!

Next up... John and I did an interview for the 3rd Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival on WDET's Culture Shift!   We have both been on the show before, but this was the first time in conversation with the Culture Shift team, Ryan Patrick Hooper and Tia Graham, together.

My first time on the show was in 2019 with Courtney Burkett of Detroit Public Theatre for Harlem9's Inaugural "48Hours in...™Detroit" - You can listen to that episode HERE !

John has been on CultureShift several times, but if you're curious about the growth from the Inaugural Obsidian Theatre Festival, you can listen to his interview with Ryan HERE from 2020.

John Sloan III, Co-Executive Producer and Producing Artistic Director, Obsidian Theatre Festival; Garlia Cornelia Jones, Senior Creative Producer, Obsidian Theatre Festival (me 😉 )

Anyway, a few weeks ago, on May 23, 2023, I connected via zoom while John visited the local studio.  There is something so meaningful about conversation that has to do with doing work in Detroit.  One of the things I promised myself as a teenager was to comeback to Detroit to work.  I didn't know what that would look like, but I can tell you that the last several years have been spent doing ex

actly that - building an artistic community in Detroit alongside my artistic community in New York.   I am fortunate to support artists and artistic endeavors in both markets and this conversation was a bit of a full circle moment in that regard.

LISTEN to our Conversation with Tia Graham on WDET's Culture Shift HERE

... and if you're in Detroit... Make sure that you reserve your FREE tickets for our festival today!  It is not to be missed!


We've got 4 days of plays, a musical theatre showcase and a cabaret!

Hope to see you there, and thanks for reading!

Supporting Obsidian and Black Theatre in Detroit (a childhood dream!)

Hey Everyone!

Life has been busy busy these days... but really... how is that new....?

I turned 40 two days ago... (Stay Tuned for that full newsletter).  It was a beautiful day, and if you follow me on social media or receive my newsletter - you will get the full update!

In this moment, I'm posting to share the GoFundMe Campaign that we just launched for the Obsidian Theatre Festival.  

When I was a kid, I always knew that I wanted to be part of a theatre community in Detroit.  I didn't know exactly that looked like... but over the last few years, I have been able to be part of some fantastic projects that do just that.

Since that first season in 2021, OTF has created a space for Black artists in the city of Detroit, and across the country. Based in Detroit, a cradle of Artistic creativity, Obsidian builds an innovative space – one that allows for audiences and artists alike to celebrate the diversity of Blackness.  

There is no “singular, monolithic Black experience”. Every story deserves to be told.  And the barriers we break down from learning about each other create new pathways – ones where compassion meets understanding, and “community” becomes more than a buzzword. 

Over the course of one weekend we present original plays, musicals, cabaret performances, and panel discussions.  All of this is done at no cost to the artists or audience.  

That’s right.  Once accepted, the new pieces are produced entirely by OTF.  We hire the directors and the actors, build the sets, and everything in between.  From Thursday through Sunday, there are 12 individual performances, multiple opportunities for audience participation.  And, as if that wasn’t enough, each and every piece we produce is filmed and streamed on our website.  So, just in case you can’t make it to Detroit, you can still participate and catch all of this amazing work.

And, we don’t charge the audiences anything either.  Our gift to the community.

But free to the community, isn’t cheap for us.  

Each year we hire over 100 artists (90%+ identify as BIPOC), and we need your help to make sure we can continue to support this community.  

We are so close to our goal, and this last $25k is vital to making sure we can produce our 3rd Annual season. 

In 2021, we were doing something new at a time when gathering for the theatre in person was nearly impossible.  Now, we need your help to make sure we can continue to overcome impossibility.  

Check out the video for a message from our Producing AD, John Sloan III.  Give what you can and then share this campaign with your friends, family, frenemies, …the guy at your corner store.  

Thank you for helping us bring Black Stories to this New Stage.  



Black Organizations to Support during Black History Month… and every day of the year!

I've been keeping pretty busy lately.  My projects have a world all their own.  It's why I formed 55AP last Fall, but more on that another time...

Supporting me on Patreon as the hub of all of this work - I consistently create space for Black artists and my own writing, but creative time as a parent requires your children to be occupied or sleep to be at a minimum.  The balance between all of that is real.

There is truly something for everyone as it relates to Black creatives on this list:

From Blackboard Plays, the reading series I've been running for nearly 14 years at this point, to Harlem9, the OBIE Award winning producing collaborative that is responsible for "48Hours in...™Harlem" "48Hours in...™El Bronx", "48Hours in...™Holy Ground", "48Hours in...™Detroit", and "48Hours in...™Dallas"... to name a few...  PLUS the anthologies we publish that include the work we have been producing over the years.

#BMPFest exists to make space for Black Parent Playwrights to tell the stories of Black Families.  We are so nuanced and rarely are we able to live in those complexities - rarely are we invited to tell those stories.  Our Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival, makes the space for that!

Obsidian Theatre Festival is a Black Theatre Festival in Detroit.  I am currently their Creative Producer and it was an important project to add to my already busy roster because it is in my hometown of Detroit and I will find any reason to create at home and support artists and aspiring artists in Detroit because I was once a high schooler who thought hard about a journey back to Detroit that didn't involve Detroit because I desired a more diverse set of opportunities and to be in New York for a while.

All of these projects have Black artists in common and today and everyday!



Does ‘DETROIT’ tell the story you want to see?

“DETROIT” opened yesterday —

By all means make your own decision on whether or not to see it, or where or not to like it…

Last week, I told you what I thought about the film after attending the Premiere with my brother in our home-city on

The flood of critique over the film encourages me.  Post-Detroit’s World Premiere of the film on Tuesday, July 25th, the headlines say it all...” ‘DETROIT’ Gives Very Little To The Black Community To Hold On To” on

or Angelica Jade Bastien’s Review on  “Watching “Detroit” I realized that I’m not interested in white perceptions of black pain.”, she writes.

I left the theatre of two minds: happy to be with family in my ever-changing home-city but a little dumbstruck.  My brother and I walked out of the FOX theatre, the bustle of Hollywood around us.  We took a selfie to appropriately document our time as two adult-siblings hanging out and then walked through the neighborhood to a nearby bar, (reminding me of the metro area I was heading back to in a couple days), Queens Bar.

Queens Bar – Detroit, MI

We talked it out… amongst ourselves and friends we ran into, getting their take on the history of the city they knew from their parents who had lived through this experience, either riot or rebellion in their youth.  There was a lot of silence… what did we really just see… Something just didn’t feel quite right… the common thread tying most of the reviews and articles on the film together: “Detroit” was directed, written, produced, shot, and edited by white creatives who do not understand the weight of the images they hone in on with an unflinching gaze.”, writes Angelica.

John Eligon wrote in The New York Times, 

But with “Detroit,” she had to wrestle with how far to push reality — how to convey the real-life horror of racism, without exploiting black trauma. “It’s really a question of how do you humanize and how do you bring to life a situation,” Ms. Bigelow said. “I suppose you use a personal judgment, I guess.”

Personal Judgement or not, did Ms. Bigelow have the right to tell this story of a city fraught with a racial history goes back so far or so deep that many have forgotten.  As a Detroit native, am I interested in an outsider’s perspective?  I would have been more interested if an outsider had encouraged some home-city talent to be involved….AT THE VERY LEAST.  Who is going to stand up for Detroit?  If Ms. Bigelow was consulted by her friend (another Native Detroiter), professor and historian, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, I would have liked to see a black producer line the stage at the FOX alongside the otherwise all-white team.

These things matter to me.

It is a basic representation issue.

The film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal made his own case on Vulture.  “…the events in Detroit are hard evidence of a cultural crisis that remains unresolved, of two Americas that still don’t know quite how to deal with each other.”

I could go so far as to inquire whether or not this extends into the production team.  If one truly understands what is happening in Detroit, then they understand the optics of opening a film introducing a crew of white creatives to a packed house crowd in a city that is 83% black.


ok… I’m taking a deep breath here and maybe it’s best to just go to Danielle Eliska Lyle, fellow dramatist and Native Detroiter.  Danielle wrote an eloquent piece that appeared in Detroit Metro Times  this week and my words are starting to feel like broken records, so I’ll let others continue to break those records:

“I had a hunch the film would be problematic. It was confirmed when the film’s development team — the writers, producers, and cinematographers — were invited on stage: Everyone was white, with the exception of Detroit native Michael Eric Dyson, who introduced Bigelow.”

Danielle left before the film was over and I couldn’t blame her or any of the other people that walked out — it was hard to stomach much of it, especial in the #blacklivesmatter era.

But I usually forge through most things – good or bad – I have a stubborn spirit.

One week before the premiere, I attended a lecture at Charles Wright Museum of African American History.  I had just taken in the Detroit ’67 Perspectives Exhibit at Detroit Historical Museum (where I used to docent in middle school) and met a woman who led me to attend the talk on S.T.R.E.S.S.

Charles Wright Museum of African American History

I took in the city some more, visiting Great Lakes Coffee on Woodward Avenue.  I felt like I was back in New York at ‘sNice, a spot I used to frequent in the West Village during my MFA years on Bank Street.  It closed a couple years ago, but the vibe at Great Lakes was similar.  Open space and an atmosphere of productivity.  Some musicians played quietly behind me, others, likely Wayne State University students, worked on their laptop.  A young man approached me asking about my camera, as I was reviewing photos from the exhibit.  He wanted to know about an upgrade and what might be the best camera for him.  I helped how I could, pleased to make more contact with a gentle stranger.

Inside Great Lakes Coffee, Midtown, Detroit, MI

During the moderated Q and A, a woman stood up, she had been up for a job as a city planner in the 70s.   She  recounted how surprised a potential male colleague, I believe she said he was South Indian, was to see her, a black woman… moreover, a Detroiter.   She didn’t get the job.

I ask again… Who is going to stand up for Detroit if Detroiters of all backgrounds and socio-economic levels are continuously barred from positions of real change, influence and power.

[Cough… Dan… Cough.. Gilbert… Cough… Affordable… Cough… Housing].

Detroit is a city with such a diverse population that I’m not sure all stories will ever be given their justice, but one can try.  “DETROIT” tries… but ultimately, the subject of the city is such a sensitive one.

So “DETROIT” for me is a cautionary tale.  No matter how famous you are… part of that responsibility in my opinion is to employ others who could assist the justice to that piece.  It is looking at the whole of the picture.  An Academy award gives one an extraordinary amount of power… so what are you going to do with it…

Kathryn Bigelow wanted to get the conversation started… so the one she has unearthed is on representation… we’re back to that… we never really left it, she just reminded us, whether she meant to or not.

All photos aside from the poster by Garlia Cornelia.
Links to articles in Bold

Latest article: Re: DETROIT

Two years ago, my parents sold our childhood home. I mentioned little about it publicly, but started writing something that I eventually had to put down because I didn’t have the rest of the story. I was in New York and hadn’t been back to Detroit for a while. I knew to finish telling the story, I needed to be in the city [Detroit].

This summer, things just kept happening… and we stayed…my kids and I, that is…  A month later, I was able to experience the week of “Rebellion” events leading up to the 50th Anniversary on July 23rd and nearly 1500 photos later, we have this story that was published on

The lesson here… PATIENCE.

I was dying when the house was sold and full of a lot of feelings, but with time, my feelings of angst were better articulated with the story of Detroit and while this is likely only the beginning of this story, I am so very happy I bugged who I bugged and pitched who I pitched.



Read my article,  “DETROIT”: Cleaning up the mess white people made or adding to it?  on, HERE.

A Tale of Two Cities… Detroit, New York and [insert city here]…

My apologies for not posting yesterday, it is my goal to post daily on here, but that means that today I’ll post twice!

Yesterday I saw a tweet from Detroit-native and current New Yorker, playwright, Domonique Morriseau.   It was about gentriification in the city and specifically, about rising rents downtown.  Naturally, being from the city that filed for bankruptcy, I was interested and share this article from The Detroit Free Press. 
Are you a Detroiter?  What do you think about the “Tale of 2 Cities” that was mentioned in the article?
It immediately made me think of what is happening here in New York.  In fact, our new mayor, Bill de Blasio, ran his campaign with the theme “A Tale of 2 Cities”, targeting income equality in the city (a very real thing).
Growing up near downtown Detroit, it is nice to see the area thriving, but in no way do I wish for the artists and people who have lived in that area pushed out.  New Yorkers deal with a changing city daily.  Gentrification is part of our way of life.  It is nice for our neighborhoods to benefit, but can’t there be a way for those that have lived there to benefit as well.  In Detroit’s case, while the downtown seems to be thriving, if one goes a little further North, the story will change.  Detroit is a very large city, so how can the success of downtown translate to other areas, WITHOUT disturbing its residents…?

So whether you’re from Detroit, New York or other city in the a similar “2 Cities” Situation, I want to hear about it below!

An Olga and a Coney

Ok people, let’s get serious.  Pregnant women have their cravings.  I have certainly had mine this time around.  I jest that I must be carrying a linebacker because my daughter certainly did not produce the type of serious food cravings that my body feels it must have this time around.

I have quenched most of my very unhealthy cravings with healthier options based on the assumption that my body is craving something it is lacking… so I’ve used some different oils (grapeseed oil, coconut oil…) in my cooking and made some wonderful things from Latham Thomas’ book Mama Glow: a Hip Guide to your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy.  

But… I think there are two cravings I might just have to give-in to or at least find some healthier substitutions.  Although, because these cravings have such feelings of nostalgia, that might be hard to do.

If you don’t already know, I’m from Detroit… home to the many things… IncludingThe Olga and the Coney Dog.

An Olga:

Olga’s Kitchen is a mediterranean fusion restaurant chain in Michigan and a few other states, but not in New York 🙁   For those of you who have not tasted the goodness of the original olga,  I can best describe it as a gyro.  That is the only equivalent that I have been able to find here in the city. BUT an olga is NOT a gyro… it is similar in how it appears….maybe, but Olga Bread is something very special and I find an Olga less greasy than what we New Yorkers find on many of our street corners.

An original Olga with an Orange Cream Cooler on Old Woodward in Birmingham bring back some pretty fantastic memories.

So if anyone knows of a way to get an Olga to New York… please… I’m here… ready and waiting.
Not that I’m desperate or begging or anything….

Next on my list…

A Coney Dog / A Coney Island:

I can just see my raw and vegan friends shaking their heads now.  I’m actually embarrassed to admit this.  Again, the nostalgia of anything “Coney” involves Leo’s Coney Island, also on Old Woodward in Birmingham…. There is absolutely NOTHING healthy, green, vegan, raw, vegetarian or nutritious about a Coney Dog.  But alas, something inside of me really wants one…. at least that’s what I keep telling myself

I think I can find something similar at Sonic Dogs, here in the city or Gray’s Papaya…  I don’t even know.  I’ll have to investigate.  I’ve never been to either of those places and I think I’ve eaten one hot dog in my 7 years in this city.  So, I’m definitely NOT the expert.

But… if someone can lead me to a vegan / healthier version… there HAS TO BE someone in this city able to create that masterpiece…  or at least send me a recipe…  I’ll try anything once!  🙂

I found this recipe in my google search for olga’s…Olga-style Snacker Recipe

… and this recipe from Rachel Ray in my google search for Coney Dogs… 

But to be honest, making something you’re craving when it’s this specific is not at easy as it sounds…

oh gee…