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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Black theater takes center stage for second year 

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In 2021, OnyxFest staged six Black-led plays and tripled its audience size from its opening in 2020. Now, the plays can be streamed for free through the end of February on Butler University’s Arts and Events Center (BAEC) website.  

Sponsored by the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI, the plays included “Fly Blackbird Fly/Voices We Can’t Unhear” by Latrice P. Young and “That Day in February” by Janice P. Neal. The first is a choreographed poem detailing the stories of several Black women, and the latter focuses on a set of siblings confronting their childhood traumas. 

The collaboration with BAEC will make these Indianapolis productions available to a global audience. 

One play, “The Price of Progress: The Indiana Avenue/IUPUI Story,” tells the story of gentrification in Indianapolis through a two-act play. Written by Vernon A. Williams and directed by McKenya Dilworth, the first half of the play focuses on the rich culture and history of Indiana Avenue, and the second focuses on the creation of IUPUI, which forced many Black homeowners and businesses out of the neighborhood. 

All plays are free to stream here

The featured plays are: 

“1200 Miles from Jerome” written by Crystal V. Rhodes and directed by Deborah Asante. The perilous journey of a 1940s family driving a teenage Japanese internment camp fugitive from Arkansas to New York.  

“Fly Blackbird Fly/ Voices We Can’t Unhear” written and directed by Latrice P. Young. A “choreopoem” recounting traumatic experiences of several Black women at their breaking point. 

“That Day in February” written by Janice P. Neal and directed by Dena Toler. What happens when adult siblings frozen by childhood trauma are forced to confront their past?  

“This Bitter Cup” written and directed by Charla Booth. This is the story of a southern Black family in the 1950s vying to find balance in their lives as they struggle for peace. 

“Ransom Place” written by Jameel Amir Martin and directed by Shandrea Funnye. A pair of unlikely companions hold on to what is precious to them as they contend with life-changing forces. 

“The Price Of Progress: The Indiana Avenue/IUPUI Story” written by Vernon A. Williams and directed by McKenya Dilworth. A two-act play about the rich culture of Indiana Avenue and the evolution of an urban university in the same Indianapolis community. 

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