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.

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