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.

#BMPFest Submissions are Open: Black Playwrights with Families!

This is my first post in quite some time.  I'm trying to do better about posting to my blog.  It used to be a thing I did pretty often and then LIFE HAPPENED... more like... divorce, new job, pandemic and moving... lots of blog posts in there and my Patrons have been receiving the behind the scenes over views, so if you're interested in joining my community!  I'd love to have you.

But this post is about #BMPFest... 

... and where should I begin...?

Well, it's gonna take a couple posts to catch up maybe... but also maybe not... #BMPFest is the Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival I co-created with Rachel Spencer Hewitt of PAAL (Parenting Artist Advocacy League).

You can read more about it in this Instagram Post!

The 1st Annual #BMPFest was between May and June of 2021.  We featured 4 new plays by Black Parent Playwrights.   Check out the one of our press releases here!  

Here's a Playlist of Trailers, interviews, intros and our panel from the 1st Annual #BMPFest!

This year, we are looking at the Fall of 2022, but before we get there, we need the plays, right...?

So... SUBMISSIONS opened January 1st and we want to make sure that you spread the word.  I'm including the notice below!  If you are a Black Playwright with a Family - that includes if you are a caregiver, then you are invited.  We are interested in telling the stories of Black mothers, fathers and non-binary Parents and Caregivers!

Blackboard Plays and Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) partner to uplift the experiences of Black Parenthood. The Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival was established to tell stories from and about Black artists with families.


Since 2008, Blackboard Plays has been devoted to Black Playwrights throughout the African Diaspora.  Blackboard Reading Series was incubated at Nancy Manocherian's the cell in Chelsea's Manhattan as a resident series for 10 years before Blackboard made its home in The Mary Rodgers Room at The Dramatists Guild in 2018.  Feature Readings and Community Nights are two ways that Blackboard supports the development of new work by Black Playwrights.  Blackboard was founded by Garlia Cornelia Jones.

Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) is a national advocacy organization serving as a resource hub, community, and solutions generator for caregivers in the performing arts and media and the institutions who support them. PAAL created the first all-gender, all-discipline national PAAL Childcare Grants for individuals and institutions. PAAL has participated internationally in think tanks, on panels, and facilitated workshops on parenting in the arts at multiple gatherings, including the national TCG conferences, BroadwayCon, Actors Equity AssociationProfessional Association of Canadian Theatres, and the first national conversation on caregiving in the Latinx community at the Latinx Theatre Commons Annual Convening, Miami in Motion, in 2019. PAAL commits to anti-racist roots in structure, practice, policy, principle, and production, through Vertical 50/50, centering support on BIPOC artists, and gathering resources for active anti-racism in caregiver support.


PAAL and Blackboard established #BMPFest to showcase the creative output of Black parent playwrights. They issued an open call in October 2020 for writers who identify as Black parents or caregivers to submit up to 10 pages of work that they would develop into a one-act.


The Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival (#BMPFest) is seeking new plays by Black Parent and caregiver playwrights for its upcoming theatre festival in the Fall of 2022.

#BMPFest is open to those that identify as Black parents and caregivers.

#BMPFest is seeking stories centering the Black parenting and caregiving experience.

This includes, but is not limited to stories from artists with family responsibilities.

PAAL and Blackboard are transgender and non-binary affirming spaces. All language referencing "mother," "parent," "dad," "caregiver," and their derivatives include and refer to any individual who identifies with them.


March 1st, 2022 at 11:59 PM EST


Please submit up to 10 pages MAX of a play that you would develop into a One-Act (30 - 45 minutes.)

Ten (10) Semi-Finalists will have a feature digital (zoom) reading as part of Blackboard Plays’  ‘21-22 Season.

Four (4) Finalists will develop their One-Act centering on the Black parenting and caregiving experience to premiere digitally during the Fall of 2022.

  • If you are chosen as one of our ten (10) semi-finalists, we will request the full script for review.
  • Diverse Gender representation will be prioritized in the review and selection process.
  • Each produced play will have digital production elements and an assigned director.

Although we ask for a sample of 10-pages, this is not a 10-minute play festival. . Video Submissions will not be accepted.


The Final four (4) plays will be produced virtually.

Pending partner theatre preferences, we will consider a hybrid presentation.

Vaccination will be required for all participants of in-person productions


Each of the four (4) Finalists will be paid a stipend of $1,000. USD, as well as a $500. USD Caregiver Reimbursement Stipend per artist.


Question: What if my play has already had a reading or what if it has been produced somewhere else.  Can I still submit it?

While we encourage new work we also support the developmental process.  If your piece is in development, has had a reading, or been produced at smaller theatres then send it along.


Competing to be June Cleaver

If you knew me way back when – you may not recognize me now.

Some days I feel like Martha Stewart: baking, taking care of our daughter, keeping up with housework…truly domestic. Other days, I wish I could call on my French au pair to go where I go so I could do the simple things in life that we all take for granted…like go to the restroom without fearing I’ll have to jump off to save my daughter who may have fallen in the other room, even though she’s just fine and asleep soundly in her crib.

I mechanically begin working on dinner around 5:30/6 so by the time my husband comes home, something is on the table. Numerous things fall by the way side and I have the most fun after midnight – writing. Sleep comes when I need it, but my candle is certainly burning at both ends…. And why?

Because I can’t just be a mother. I can’t just plan play dates and obsess over what nursery school my baby will go to in 2 -3 years. I try to do it all and end up in a race with myself. Every time I take a breather, I regret it- I try to stay one step ahead and end up feeling like I’m one step behind trying to please everyone (especially myself).

I am certainly not alone (I sure hope not) as mothers like me around the country figure out how to have “it all”. Some have more help than others, with an au pair or family member – others, like me, do it alone during the day while the other spouse works. Others have no other spouse and do it all alone.

Help or no help, the June Cleaver competition is always in our subconscious.

But June Cleaver had it easy – if all I had to do was clean the house and have dinner ready, life would be a breeze… Instead I think about a career and my own personal happiness as a human on this crazy planet – never mind my husband and our happiness in life as a couple and family (which is of course a constant on my mind).

But how did I – How do we get this way – wanting everything to be perfect – or just right… trying to juggle motherhood and wife-Dom like we’re going to get a badge at the end of this raceto add to our sash – like we’re going to move up in the rankings.

I mean … sometimes It would be better if sleep were optional…

… And who is all of this for? Maybe we want to win one of those network tv “Mother of the Year” contests, and be picked over thousands of other deserving mothers…. Is that what our mothers wanted?

Are we recreating their lives in a google age?

My 1st year into this life as wife AND mother sent me into a homemaker mode many never knew existed or thought I would enjoy (myself included). But I was no longer “playing house” as I did as a child. This was real!

At the end of the day, June Cleaver’s life seemed perfect, but that sort of perfection has a dangerous price. If you find that you are driving yourself crazy over the minutiae and need a break, take one! Afterall, June Cleaver had commercials…
If you are wondering what this has to do with “being black”, it has everything to do with Identity which is what I gained when I “discovered” my blackness… A sense of self that could be carried throughout the different avenues of my life.