4th Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival Unveils Lineup

Events begin on Thursday, June 27th.

By: Feb. 20, 2024
4th Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival Unveils Lineup
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The lineup has unveiled the line-up for the 4th Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival, taking place at 3 different locations in downtown Detroit.  This collaboration between GhostLight Creative Productions & Nicely Theatre Group, now in its fourth year, features plays from four playwrights, a new musical, and a special opening night cabaret.  

In partnership with Blackboard Plays, OTF received over 100 submissions after a six-week call for plays and musicals by Black playwrights, composers, and lyricists from August 2023 to the end of September, 2023. Submissions were read and the Semi-finalists were selected by the 2024 Submission Review Committee, which included: 3rd year Mainstage Finalist, kay kemp (“and god made man”), 2nd year Mainstage Finalist, Shawntai Brown (“We Own Everything”), and 1st year Mainstage Finalist, Carollette Phillips (“20/20”) for the Main Stage Plays.  Performing Artist , Composer and Professor, Omari Tau (The Lion King) along with 3rd Year MT Showcase Lyricist and Book writer, Germono Toussaint (“The Last Gatekeeper”) comprised the committee for the Musical Theatre Showcase. Artistic Consultant, and former Associate Artistic Director, Alexis Sims chaired both committees. 

The finalists were selected by Producing Artistic Director, John Sloan III, Co-Executive Producer, David Carroll, Associate Artistic Director and Senior Creative Producer, Garlia Cornelia Jones (The Public, Harlem9, Blackboard Plays, PAAL), and Artistic Consultant, and former Associate Artistic Director, Alexis Sims (“For Colored Girls”).  

The Mainstage finalists 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”.  

The Musical Theatre Showcase, gives a Black composer and lyricist team an opportunity to workshop a piece in development. Selected team, Bookwriter and Lyricst, Ashlee K. Thomas and Composer, Ziyan Yang with “Ti'Mon” will have their new musical in development produced as part of our showcase this year for 2 consecutive nights in the Chrysler Black Box at the Detroit Opera House on 1526 Broadway St. 

The weekend begins with an Opening Night Cabaret and fundraiser, featuring an evening of musical theatre performances / cabaret for one night only at the GEM Theatre on  333 Madison St, Detroit, MI 48226 on Thursday, June 27th.

New this year is key art for each of the finalist pieces, designed by new staff member, Obsidian Theatre Festival, Graphic Designer, Tylar Greer-Travis. 

Each of the 4 plays will have two performances at The Boll Family YMCA, while the Musical Theatre Showcase will perform twice at The Chrysler Black Box inside the Detroit Opera House.  Performances begin Thursday, June 27th and end on Sunday, June 30th.  General Admission tickets are free of charge and will be made available at the end of the month. 

Registration for Pre-Sale Tickets  is now available on our website.  Once available, each tier will include access to our streaming platform, which includes festival content from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seasons, priority seating, and access to special gifts and events.  Register via our website at www.obsidianfest.org.  

In lieu of admission, we ask all audience members to consider making a donation to Obsidian [LINK: http://bit.ly/glaigive].

This is the 4th Annual Season and 3rd in-person year of the festival, which began in the wake of COVID-19 in 2021, as an entirely virtual event.  With a continued goal of accessibility, pieces from each season will be available to stream on the festival's website. 

This year also brings a new offering as The GhostLight Arts Initiative (the non-profit arm of GhostLight Creative) presents the IMPACT Arts Conference, June 24-26, featuring panels, workshops, and guest speakers in advance of OTF ‘24. 

“Each year people ask me ‘What does growth look like?'” says John Sloan III, OTF Co-Executive Producer and Producing Artistic Director (The Lion King). “But I'm much more interested in sustainability.  I'm thrilled with how this festival has been able to grow, and even more excited with the knowledge that we are building an innovative arts experience with a national reach, anchored here in Detroit.”  

This year's festival is made possible with support from The Song Foundation and The Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan.  Of considerable impact is the multi-year support of The Mellon Foundation whose funding also helped John Sloan III and Garlia Cornelia Jones launch the Propulsion Theatre Project – featured at this season's Inaugural IMAPCT Arts Conference. 

Over the past 3 seasons, The Obsidian Theatre Festival has featured  22 productions and over 100 individual segments including panels, interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, original music performances, and educational opportunities for students across the country, with viewership in 48 states and 28 countries.

“The Obsidian Theatre Festival brings people together to entertain, educate, and provoke thought. The Festival is an exciting and growing staple of downtown Detroit's live entertainment scene.” Said Co-Executive Producer and Founder of Nicely Theatre Group, David Carroll. “There are many talented Black artists in the area who have a lot of interesting things to say, and they deserve a platform from which to say it. The Obsidian Theatre festival provides that platform.”

The 6 remaining main stage semi-finalists will go on to have their work virtually supported by Blackboard Plays,  a reading series founded by one of Obsidian's Associate Artistic Directors,  Senior Creative Producer, and Detroit Native, Garlia Cornelia Jones in 2008. 

This year also marks the return of several key staff including Associate Artistic Director/General Manager Amber D. Gray (Arena Stage, The Public, Alley Theatre), Associate Producer/Business Manager Conwell Worthington III (The Lion King, The Huntington Theatre), and Director of Education & Professional Development  Dr. Rashida Harrison.



Marlene Boll Theatre at Downtown YMCA at 1401 Broadway St

“Black Santa” by Aaron Mays

Thursday, June 27 and Saturday, June 29, 2024
Before Abbott Elementary, there was Patrice at Dartmouth Day School....Shortly before Christmas break, a third grader named Sharifa stands in front of her class and says, “Santa Claus is a black man from Detroit," sending the school into an uproar. To quell the storm, Patrice Patterson, the school's only black teacher, is asked to create an ad campaign within the school to make Santa white again. As events unfold, Sharifa's enrollment is placed in jeopardy, and Patrice must decide how to protect Sharifa and ultimately herself. This absurdist comedy examines how race and racial bias can have a foothold on one of the most benign figures—Santa Claus.

“The Golden Loc” by Prentiss Matthews III

Friday, June 28 and Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Golden Loc is a TYA (Theater for Young Audience) play inspired by African Mythology. The story centers on a little Black girl (Zia) who learns to embrace her unique locs, beauty, and magic within. The show explores Aziza Faires which are magical African Fairies who have elemental abilities. The Aziza Fairies also offer spiritual and emotional guidance to young Zia as she trains to become a Fairy protector. Will she succeed and learn to harness her power from within? We shall see. The play explores themes of Afrofantasy, Afrocentricity, Self Love, Healing, and sisterhood. 

“Crooked Parts” by Azure D. Osborne-Lee

Friday, June 28 and Sunday, June 30, 2024

"Crooked Parts" is a family dramedy set in yesterday and today. Freddy, a Black queer trans man, returns to his family home in the South after his fiancé breaks up with him. Once there, Freddy must navigate the tension created by his transition and his brother's serial incarceration. Meanwhile, in his past, 13 year-old Winifred struggles to balance her relationship with her mother with her desire to better fit in with her peers. Crooked Parts is poignant, queer, funny, and definitely definitely Black.

“The Sisters Grey” by Lori Roper

Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Sisters Grey, provides a true illumination of the relationships among African American and Jewish people. The Sisters Grey is a multi-ethnic, interdenominational work.  In addition to an honest discussion about race, The Sisters Grey unveils the unspoken complexities within female relationships; especially those which are interracial.  Furthermore, an intergenerational cast provides a stark discussion about the significance of roots, the mythology at the heart of prejudice and the lingering malaise from centuries of misunderstanding and bigotry.  This modern-day comedy centers on two sisters-in-law: one African American, the other European American.  The cast will consist of three African American characters, one African (Nigerian) character and two European-American Jewish characters.


The Chrysler Black Box at The Detroit Opera House on 1526 Broadway St.

“Ti'Mon” Book and Lyrics by Ashlee Thomas and Music by Ziyan Yang 

Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29, 2024

Ti'mon is a dystopian musical about young Haitian boy, left orphaned in France for 5 years, now sent to America to be reunited with a woman who calls herself mother. With his new life frighteningly foreign, Ti'mon turns to his doll Eshleem to help him devise a plan to escape.


GEM Theatre on  333 Madison St.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

This season's festival will kick off with an Opening Night Cabaret and fundraiser, featuring artists from across Detroit, as OTF highlights the contribution of African-American artists to Musical Theatre history.