Casts Set for 3rd Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival Taking Place This Summer

The festival features plays from four playwrights, a new musical, and a special opening night cabaret.

By: May. 30, 2023
Casts Set for 3rd Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival Taking Place This Summer

The Obsidian Theatre Festival has announced casting for the 3rd Annual Obsidian Theatre Festival, taking place at 3 different locations in downtown Detroit.  As previously announced, this collaboration between GhostLight Creative Productions & Nicely Theatre Group, now in its third year, features plays from four playwrights, a new musical, and a special opening night cabaret.

Each of the 4 plays will have two performances at The Boll Family YMCA on 1401 Broadway St, while the Musical Theatre Showcase will perform twice at The Chrysler Black Box inside the Detroit Opera House on 1526 Broadway St.  Our Opening Night cabaret will take place at Cliff Bell’s on 2030 Park Ave.  Performances begin Thursday, June 22nd and end on Sunday, June 25th.  In an effort to continue to be accessible to all, this year’s festival will be available to stream in its entirety beginning in August of 2023. 

All passes and tickets are available via the website at Click Here.  

General Admission tickets are free of charge and are now available.  Festival Passes are also available.  Each tier includes access to our streaming platform, which includes festival content from the 1st and 2nd seasons, priority seating, and access to special gifts and events.  

In lieu of admission, and as in previous years, we ask all audience members to consider supporting partners, The Detroit Public Schools Foundation, Black Theatre United, or making a donation to Obsidian [LINK:]. 

After two successful years , Obsidian’s  live and virtual offerings are back, with an expanded team.  “Words can't express how excited I am to grow this festival.  We launched OTF in 2020, during a time when the world truly felt upside down.  People were flooding the streets across the country in protest, while we all grappled with the effects of a global pandemic.  We needed an outlet.  We needed a way to speak, to shout, to stand emboldened by our truth -- by the sheer audacity of our existence.  That's why The Obsidian Theatre Festival is important.  We give a voice to Black artists across the country.  We center a city responsible for propelling a nation's economy.  We use theatre as a catalyst for social change.  This might just be our third season, but we've already been able to infuse hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Detroit economy, providing employment for hundreds of BIPOC theatre and film professionals. . And we've only just begun.  We are proud of our accomplishments, and inspired to build our future.”, says John Sloan III, OTF Co-Executive Producer and Producing Artistic Director (The Lion King).  

Last year's festival was made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Mellon Foundation.  Over the past 2 seasons, The Obsidian Theatre Festival has produced 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 weekend opens with “Back to Black: An Obsidian Cabaret”, is a one-night-only event featuring two veteran Obsidian Theatre Festival cabaret performers: Detroit Native and Award winning Poet, Ben Will, and Broadway star Lulu Fall (The Great Comet, Hair).   Ben and Lulu will be joined by other local artists to present a fun and intimate evening of music from the best of Broadway’s Black writers and musicians at Cliff Bell’s on 2030 Park Ave on Thursday, June 22nd at 9:00pm. Music Direction by Brian E. Buckner (Passing Strange, Detroit Public Theatre).

This year’s 4 finalists from the submission pool of over 100 received between December 2022 and January 2023 are: April Amara with “title pending”, Cris Blak with “The Underground Color Wheel”, kay kemp with “and god made man”, and Melanie Payne with “Color Blind”.  Each of the 4 plays will take place in the Marlene Boll Theatre at The Boll Family YMCA, 1401 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226.  

“The Underground Color Wheel” by Cris Blak, Directed by K Edmonds

In “The Underground Color Wheel”, Cris Blak tells the story of 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. K Edmonds directs this new play. Amanda Buchalter, Artun Kircali, Maya McEntyre and Justin Montgomery join the company.  

“The Underground Color Wheel” runs Thursday, June 22nd at 7pm EST and Friday, June 23rd at 2pm EST.

“Color Blind” by Melanie Payne, Directed by Billicia Hines

Melanie Payne’s “Color Blind” tells the story of an interracial friendship between Angie and Leslie that hits a bump when Angie discovers that the two share an ancestor. While Angie is excited by the discovery, Leslie is disturbed by the fact that the ancestor fathered and owned her great-grandfather. It’s not long before resentment overtakes the friendship. Can people of different races ever truly be friends or is the damage done by slavery and systemic racism too much to overcome? Billicia Hines directs this new play.  Linda Rabin Hammell, Kamia Hicks, Sealoyd Jones III, Sean Paraventi join the company.  “Color Blind” runs Friday, June 23rd at 8pm EST and Sunday, June 25th at 1pm EST.


“title pending” by April Amara, Directed by Asia Mark

In “title pending”, April Amara tells the story of Alive! Theatre, a small, Black theatre company in Poughkeepsie, New York, that is deep in the rehearsal process for a historically lauded American Classic, “Only Two are Invited to Dinner”. Suddenly, they receive word that the estate of the play’s legendary playwright has revoked their rights to the script after witnessing what they believe to be “a misunderstanding of authorial intent” by having an all-black cast. To save the already flailing company, artistic director Tommy enlists the help of world-renowned famous playwright, Marcel Lamareaux, to premiere his new play at Alive!, launching the theatre (and its actors) into stardom. Asia Mark directs this new play. Khalia Damali, Erika Franklin, Nate John-Mark, Dante Jones, Tayler Jones, Chelsea King, Cameron Prevatte and Shawntez Prince join the company.  “title pending” runs Saturday, June 24th at 2pm EST and Sunday, June 25th at 6pm EST.


“and god made man” by kay kemp, Directed by Asia Hicks

kay kemp’s “and god made man” is an exploration of Black masculinity, and the harmful interaction which rigid gender performativity has not only on the men who subscribe to it, but those whose bodies are caught in the crossfire. In the play, Caesar and Antony find themselves married to the same woman. As a solution, they decide to take turns “being the husband” and exploring what it means to be a man. Along the way they elucidate their relationships with their “wife,” the world, and each other. Asia Hicks directs this new play. Ashley Lyle, David Moy join the company.  Additional Casting TBA. “and god made man” runs Saturday, June 24th at 8pm EST and Sunday, June 25th at 3pm EST.


The Musical Theatre Showcase, gives a Black composer and lyricist team an opportunity to workshop a piece in development. Our Musical Theatre showcase will once again take place in the Chrysler Black Box at the Detroit Opera House on 1526 Broadway St. 

“The Last Gatekeeper”, Music and Lyrics by Germono Toussaint

Playwright/Lyricist/Composer Germono Toussaint tells the Afro-futurist story of Nandi, a second-generation West African mother, who suspects that her spiritually gifted, sensitive, and inquisitive son Soku, is SGL (same gender loving)/Queer. To maintain Soku’s safety, Nandi tries to keep him from embracing his true nature, while his grandmother Adisa, a witch trained in the traditions of her people, counters this by teaching him the ways of the ancient Gatekeepers, connecting him to his ancestor spirits, and helping him develop his spiritual gifts.

Our Musical Theatre Showcase will be directed by Rueben EcholesWilliam Harrison returns as Music Director.  X. Alexander, Rebecca Eaddy, Tiffany Gridiron, Nyah Pierson, Mike Sandusky join the company.  “The Last Gatekeeper” runs Friday, June 23rd at 5:30pm EST and Saturday, June 24th at 4:30pm EST.  Additional Casting TBA


Ghostlight Creative Productions is a Detroit-based, full service production company specializing in the creation of original film, theatrical, and performance content. Ghostlight offers high end, wrap- around event production services at a Broadway calibre that uplifts the underrepresented, and tells stories that are both compelling and complex. 

 For more information, please visit:


Nicely Theatre Group is a professional, non-profit theatre company dedicated to increasing public access to live theatre with affordable, diverse performances. Our productions will be inclusive and representative of our community while growing and supporting the arts in metro Detroit. For more information, please visit:


Since 2008, Blackboard Plays has been devoted to Black Playwrights throughout the African Diaspora.  Blackboard Reading Series was incubated @ Nancy Manocherian’s the cell in Chelsea’s Manhattan as a resident series for 10 years, before making their new physical home pre-pandemic 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.  Since 2020, Blackboard has been in partnership with the Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) to produce the Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival, supporting the work of Black artists with Families and their stories.  Blackboard was founded by Garlia Cornelia Jones.


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