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About the 2021 Festival

Blackboard Plays and PAAL have partnered to present the first Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival (#BMPFest). In the early fall of 2020, submissions opened all around the country for playwrights who identify as Black Parents or Caregivers to submit 10 page excerpts. A review committee of Black mother theatre artists then selected four finalists and two semi-finalists. Excerpts of the finalists' plays were read at the PAAL International Summit on December 4, 2020.

Blackboard Plays and PAAL are now partnering with four highly established theatre across the country to produce one-act Zoom Workshops of each of the four finalists’ plays in May-June 2021 to honor Black mothers and parents everywhere.

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Justin's Side

In partnership with:



Written by: Eureka Lewis

Directed by: Ellen Valencia


Featuring: Troi Coleman Alvin Christmas Ezra Knight

Trailer: Katiana Weems - Editor and Gabrielle Henderson, Audio



ABOUT JUSTIN’S SIDE A typical day at Roman Middle School takes a drastic turn when an incident amongst classmates warrants a parent/principal meeting. JUSTIN’S SIDE opens the 1st Annual Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival, a partnership between Blackboard Plays and PAAL , the Parent Artist Advocacy League.


This play is made possible because of a partnership with Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: EUREKA LEWIS Eureka Lewis resides in New York, but is a native of Detroit, MI. She's written & directed numerous plays, including (but not limited to) "Sorry If I Let You Down", "Aunt Salley's Remains", "Finally Made It", "Too Far To The Left", "The Jagged Rose" & a 10-week run of "What They'll Remember"; which received rave reviews in The Huffington Post & Broadway World. From hundreds of entries, she was twice selected a featured writer for Billie Holiday Theatre's "50IN50" writer’s series.⠀ ⠀


Her onstage credits began over thirty years ago at The Hilberry Studio Theater of @theatreanddanceatwayne , Wayne State University, in "Portraits In Black". She's also had lead or pivotal roles in "Tambourines To Glory", "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope", "God's Trombones", "For Colored Girls", "Raisin In The Sun", "In The City", "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" & "Herstory" to name a select few.⠀ ⠀


Eureka believes writing is one of the greatest platforms to evoke change.⠀

What If?


Editor in Chief

Dan Mitchell

Assistant Manager

Noah Patterson

Programming Editor

Tess Anderson

Art Director

Festival Team

In partnership with:



Written by: Cynthia Grace Robinson

Directed by: Mary E. Hodges


Featuring: Morgan Calhoun & Tonya Pinkins


Trailer: Katiana Weems - Editor and Gabrielle Henderson, Audio



ABOUT WHAT IF...? A young woman’s need to fight for justice unleashes her mother’s fears for her child’s life. WHAT IF...? is the second new work in the 1st Annual Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival, a partnership between Blackboard Plays and PAAL , the Parent Artist Advocacy League. This play is made possible because of a partnership with Bishop Arts Theatre Center


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: CYNTHIA GRACE ROBINSON Plays: DANCING ON EGGSHELLS (The Billie Holiday Theatre); PEOLA'S PASSING (New Perspectives Theatre Company); WHEN NIGHT FALLS (Eugene O'Neill semi-finalist); GOLD STAR MOTHER (EstroGenius Festival); ASCENSION (National Black Theatre Festival; NYC Fringe); THUNDER: A MUSICAL MEMOIR (NYC Fringe); NIGHTFALL (The Fire This Time Festival); ROME IN LOVE (48 Hours in…Harlem); FREEDOM SUMMER (North Carolina Black Repertory Company); IN THIS LIFE (in development); ROSES OF THE WILLAMETTE: A MUSICAL (in development); TV pilot (in development). Awards: Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Playwriting Conference (Semi-finalist); Rivers Writers Unit at The Lark; Playwrights of Color Summit/Quick Silver Theater Company; Rising Circle Theater Collective/INKTank Residency; AUDELCO Award Nominee; Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Finalist; Calvin B. Grimes Scholar-in-Residence Inaugural award (NYU); Tribeca All-Access Open Stage Inaugural award; Best New Play IRNE Nominee. Publications: SHE PERSISTED. Monologues from Plays by Women Over 40; The Book of Estrogenius 2012: A Celebration of Female Voices.


In partnership with:

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Written by: Melda Beaty

Directed by: Dawn Monique Williams


Featuring: Pat Bowie, LaKeisha Randle, Nikkole Salter and Dee Selmore


Trailer: Katiana Weems - Editor and Gabrielle Henderson, Audio

THIRTY is the third new work in the 1st Annual Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival, a partnership between Blackboard Plays and PAAL, the Parent Artist Advocacy League. This play is made possible because of a partnership with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.



ABOUT THIRTY An explosive look at a family generation of Black women caregivers grappling with family secrets.


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: MELDA BEATY is a passionate playwright, author, and assistant professor who resides in Chicago, Illinois with her three gifted daughters. Melda has written five stage plays and a short film. Her first play, Front Porch Society, enjoyed a world premiere at The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, TX and was a finalist for Best New Plays by Houston Press. She is also a freelance contributor to Black Masks magazine and the author of two books. Her latest play is an epic exploration of 19th century sterilization laws in America and the impact on Black women. Melda earned her B.A. in Broadcast Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her M.A. in English at Illinois State University.

The Break

In partnership with:



Written by: Julie Taiwo Oni

Directed by: Anita Dashiell-Sparks


Featuring: Camille Thomas

Trailer: Katiana Weems - Editor and Gabrielle Henderson, Audio

THE BREAK is the fourth new work in the 1st Annual Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival, a partnership between Blackboard Plays and PAAL , the Parent Artist Advocacy League. This play is made possible because of a partnership with Detroit Public Theatre.




ABOUT THE BREAK A single early-twenties Black boy-mom and influencer, challenges herself to a day sans social media.


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: JULIE TAIWO ONI is a Los Angeles-based playwright, English professor, and proud boy mom with roots in Bakersfield, California and Nigeria. She sees her work as a playwright and educator as interconnected, for the stories that she creates are inspired by areas of focus in her research and teaching, including American pop culture, intercultural misconceptions, and the African diaspora. Recent works include Sown for MaiM Theatre Company and Son of Semele (2019), The Hotel Play with Playwrights’ Arena (2017), Bunk and Denim for Son of Semele’s Company Creation Festival (2014-2015), nat&EM for Company of Angels (2013), Tether for Doorway Arts Ensemble in Washington, D.C. (2011), and workshops, readings, and festivals across LA. Her current research and writing deals with Black albinism in the U.S. and Africa. Oni is associated with The Robey Theatre Company’s Playwrights’ Lab, Son of Semele Scribes, and Center Theatre Group’s Community Stories. She holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from the USC School of Dramatic Arts, and teaches composition, dramatic literature, and playwriting at Pepperdine University.

2021 Festival Production Team

John Sloan III

Ghostlight Productions

John Sloan is a Detroit based arts professional and community organizer.  After studying musical theatre at The University of Michigan, Sloan spent over fourteen years working in New York, LA, several regional theatres, and on the national tour of Disney’s The Lion King.  He is the Founding CEO/Artistic Director of GhostLight Productions, and Producing Artistic Director of The Obsidian Theatre Festival. Sloan is a Composer and Lyricist whose most recent credits include Hastings Street and #24viralmonologues. He currently serves as lead organizer for Black Lives Matter Detroit, and is the Director of Operations for The Detroit Safety Team. 

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Amber Gray

Associate Producer/Production Manager

Amber Gray (She/Her/Hers) is a Theatre Producer, Administrator, Director, Choreographer and Performer. She received a BFA Musical Theatre degree from Rockford University and she is a very proud Texan. Currently Amber is back in her hometown of Houston performing, Associate Producing the national Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival and Assistant Directing High School Play; A Nostalgia Fest at the Alley Theatre. She is also the General Manager for the Obsidian Theatre Festival.  For more information about Amber, please visit her website at

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Katiana Weems

Marketing & Trailer Editor

award winning director, cinematographer, and editor. Her work has been screened internationally and featured in the New York Times. An alumni of Syracuse University’s Film Production Program, she graduated a VPA scholar- the college’s highest undergraduate honor. She has studied film internationally at FAMU University and holds an AA in Film Studies. The stories she tells on screen are dynamic and seek to process and unearth raw emotion. As an educator, she encourages this same authenticity in her students- to help them develop the skills to communicate through film in a way that resonates with themselves, their communities, and the world at large. She currently teaches film at Baltimore School of the Arts.

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Brianna Pippens

Graphic Designer

Brianna Pippens is a Visual and Performing Artist based in Washington, DC. Artistically known as Banana Peppers, she creates illustrations, paintings, drawings, animations, and cut out work that focuses on race, nostalgia, and the nuances of black identity and experiences. She is a self-taught visual artist that began sharing her visual artwork in 2010. As a trained singer and dancer, Brianna has been able to tap into those modes of expression to influence her art style and dedication to honing her craft. Brianna has displayed her art at pop-up events and in local galleries in the DMV area as well as provided visuals for many small and large organizations. She creates from the heart and aims to share artwork that impacts others positively.

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Alexis 'Lexi' McCay

Stage Manager

s a mixed woman whose main focus is a stage manager around Atlanta. She is also the Production Manager at Out of Hand Theater, an administrator for Atlanta Theatre Artists for Justice, on the board of SheNYC Arts, and loves to teach technical theater to kids whenever she can. When she’s not working, she is finding a quiet corner to curl up with her dogs and try to get her next play written

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Kristina Jackson

Stage Manager

She has been a Stage Manager for ten years splitting her time in London, Virginia, DC, Hawaii, and California. She has stage managed shows Such as; Vegas! The Show, King Lear, Legally Blonde, Peter and the Star Catcher, South Pacific and many many more. But her favorite thing about stage managing is seeing how all the pieces come together. Everyones passion to bring words alive is such a joy and she can not wait for you to see how magical these productions are!

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Gabrielle 'Gabby' Henderson

a Chicago based Sound Designer, Composer, and Musician.

Sound Designer

Let’s Work Together

Get in touch so we can start working together.

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