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OnyxFest celebrates African American voices

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OnyxFest has offered a stage to celebrate and articulate Black life, issues and culture for about a decade now. This year could be a little different, though, as Black playwrights capture the unique urgency of a simultaneous pandemic and what’s been called the second Civil Rights Movement.

OnyxFest 2020 features six one-act productions by local Black playwrights Oct. 1-10. WFYI will record the performances for possible broadcast later.

“Being Black,” written by Vernon Williams, is an “unapologetically candid expression of the multi-faceted dimensions of a people in constant evolution” that rejects attempts to turn Black culture into a monolith.

All plays will be performed outdoors at IndyFringe Pocket Park, 719 E. St. Clair St. Tickets are $15 online.

This is Williams’ 40th year as a playwright. He most recently wrote, produced and directed “The Price of Progress: The Indiana Avenue/IUPUI Story,” which examined the transformation of a predominantly African American area into an urban college campus.

Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 and Oct. 10

“I Feed You Defiance,” written by Rain Wilson, follows mothers who give lessons of endurance and strength to Black and brown sons to resist a system that’s trying to break them.

Wilson told IndyFringe OnyxFest is important right now because it gives her and other writers a chance to be heard “at a time where the voices of black people are more necessary than ever before — our scream, our fight, our challenge to a broken system.”

Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 and 4 p.m. Oct. 10

Other plays:

“On the Corner,” written by Michael Florence, is a reflection on three death row inmates with contrasting perspectives on their journey.

Performance times: 2 p.m. Oct. 3 and 6 p.m. Oct. 8 

“A Bluesy Night,” written by Aniqua Chatman, explores the bliss and blues of unexpected attraction and challenges.

Performance times: 7 p.m. Oct. 2 and 6 p.m. Oct. 4

“Anniversary,” written by J.R. Baltimore, is a humorous tale of temptation and consequences of carnal options outweighing conscience.

Performance times: 4 p.m. Oct. 4 and 6 p.m. Oct. 10

“Seven Days,” written by Shandrea Funnye, is a story of love, spontaneity, sacrifice and the notion that timing is everything.

Performance times: 6 p.m. Oct. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8

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