New Ghostlight Arts Initiative Launches Educational Program at 2nd Annual Obsidian Theater Festival

Ghostlight Productions and Nicely Theater Group are teaming up again for the 2nd Annual Obsidian Theater Festival.

This year, GhostLight Productions Inc. presents a reimagined arts education program, the Ghostlight Arts Initiative (GLAI). Formerly known as The Helping Hands Campaign for the Arts, GLAI is the non-profit arm of GhostLight and focuses on using art as a catalyst for social change through arts education and activism. Returning for its second year, the initiative offers three high-quality virtual performing arts classes to students in grades 7-12 across the country over four weeks culminating in a final project. Students will receive a Certificate of Participation or Certificate of Completion and choose between Beginner and Intermediate Streams in Interpretation. They can also choose to follow the GLAI dance floor. Acting and dance tracks are taught by GLAI teaching artists Kyle Dupree (Broadway Tours: Chicago, Mama Mia), Jasmin Richardson (Broadway: The Book of Mormon, Gettin’ the Band Back Together) and Artistic Director OTF associate Alexis Sims (Broadway: for colored girls who’ve thought about suicide when the rainbow is enough).

These courses focus on building students’ technique and promoting technical toolkits upon which the foundation of their storytelling and creative expression can be built. All courses are completely FREE and aim to create a school-to-career guide for young people interested in pursuing professions in the arts. The full program is available on the Obsidian Theater Festival website: www.obsidianfest.org weekly starting April 27, 2022.

After a successful inaugural year amid a global pandemic, Obsidian will include intimate live and virtual offerings. “Right now it’s cliché to mention how difficult the last two years have been, but the OTF has allowed us to create a platform for black artists in Detroit. This work has the power to normalize the black cultural experiences, while simultaneously celebrating the diversity of blackness.” says John Sloan III, co-executive producer of the 2nd Annual Obsidian Theater Festival. Semi-finalists for the 2nd annual festival were announced in early March and finalists will be announced in late April.

Another element of this year’s artistic programming includes the first GLAI youth playwriting competition. Short plays written by black people identifying students in grades 7-12 were submitted by their teachers. Submissions were in partnership with Blackboard Plays via blackboardplays.submittable.com. Founded in 2008 by Obsidian Creative Producer Garlia Cornelia Jones, Blackboard is dedicated to black playwrights from the African Diaspora. The winner of this national competition will not only receive a $500 Visa gift card, but also feedback from industry professionals. Jason Veasey (Broadway: The Lion King and A Strange Loop) and Jasmin Richardson serve as the submission review committee to select student finalists. A virtual streaming presentation of their pieces will be available July 7-10, 2022.

For several months, the Obsidian Exec Team has been working to bring the festival to this point. Alongside co-executive producer and production art director, John Sloan III (The Lion King, GhostLight Productions) are associate art director, Alexis Sims; general manager, Joshua Cashman (Disney Theatrical, Steppenwolf); Creative Producer, Garlia Cornelia Jones (Blackboard Plays, Harlem9, The Public, PAAL); general manager, Amber Gray (Blackboard Plays); production manager, Yemisi Odetoyinbo; and arts education manager, Sarae Daniels.

“As part of our mission, we strive to connect young people across the country with free and additional educational resources and opportunities designed to engage their minds, nurture their spirits, and foster awareness of how the art can be used as a mechanism for change within themselves and the world around them.Part of our goal is to ensure that students of all ages have access to educational opportunities.The second avenue of interaction lies in our desire to connect high school youth to college programs, and college youth to professional production organizations, says Alexis Sims and Sarae Daniels.

Obsidian is a hybrid theater festival with virtual and intimate in-person performing arts events, as well as ancillary offerings. In its inaugural year, Obsidian featured emerging black artists, actors, directors, and playwrights from Detroit. Supporting content from last year can be found on Youtube, Facebook, and ObsidianFest.org. Side content for 2022 will also be found there, free of charge. Registration will be required and necessary for COVID compliance, health and safety protocols.

Last year, Obsidian Theater Festival produced 45 individual segments featuring panels, interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, original musical performances, and educational opportunities for students across the country. There were over 50,000 minutes of content viewed and over 10,000 views worldwide with audiences in 48 states and 28 countries, and all without spending absolutely anything on advertising.

Like last year, viewers will be encouraged to support one of these three charities: Black Theater United, Detroit Public Schools Foundation and Donate at www.obsidianfest.org/donate

In fall 2020, Founder and Production Artistic Director, John Sloan III and Festival Co-Executive Producer, David Carroll issued a call for new work. The response has been incredible, with over two hundred writers, composers and lyricists submitting work. Amid Covid, the Ghostlight crew was able to rehearse, stage and film six productions in person without a single staff member of over 100 getting sick. Obsidian, produced in the city of Detroit, by Detroiters, is a celebration of black stories that will highlight the prolific work of emerging black voices, focusing on the wide range of diverse experiences of those in the African Diaspora in America. New this year, the festival will take place at several venues in downtown Detroit.

“Our first season was such a hit with viewers around the world. But this festival is only as strong as the team that produces it. And we have some of the best theater and film professionals in the country working to elevate the stories. black.”

Visit www.obsidianfest.org for ongoing festival announcements and schedule updates.

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