The Metro: Impact Arts Conference, Obsidian Theatre Festival descend on Detroit this week

Obie Award-winning playwright and theater producer Garlia Jones joined the show to discuss the events and how they’re amplifying Black storytellers and artists.

Monique Young (from left), Lulu Fall, Bryce Pinchum and Ben Will perform at the third annual Obsidian Theatre Festival's opening night cabaret and fundraiser at the Gem Theatre, June 27, 2023.

Monique Young (from left), Lulu Fall, Bryce Pinchum and Ben Will perform at the third annual Obsidian Theatre Festival's opening night cabaret and fundraiser at the Gem Theatre, June 27, 2023.

The fourth annual Obsidian Theatre Festival is taking place throughout downtown Detroit this weekend, alongside GhostLight Arts Initiative’s inaugural Detroit Impact Arts Conference.

Launched in March 2021, the Obsidian Theatre Festival aims to showcase Black stories and storytelling in Detroit, serving as a platform for emerging Black voices in theatre and film.

The festival runs Thursday through Sunday, June 27-30, with performances taking place at the Boll Family Theatre, Detroit Opera House and Gem Theatre. 

The Detroit Impact Arts Conference takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, June 24-26, at the Wayne State Student Center. Detroit native and Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau, who is also one of the producing artistic directors at Detroit Public Theatre, will be the keynote speaker. 

Obie Award-winning playwright and theater producer Garlia Jones — also the creative producer for the Obsidian Theatre Festival — joined The Metro on Monday to discuss this week’s conference and festival. 

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The three-day conference includes many different programming and playwriting workshops, as well as different panels or screenings looking back at past year’s festivals.

“We have artists who have been in the festival, we have former staff and artistic leaders of the festival who are all here. And we have groups of Detroit playwrights who are telling their stories,” she said.

Jones says the festival and conference also give students interested in pursuing the arts a chance to learn and make connections. 

“I mean, arts programming is all about access, right? And so this gives students the start of some training and the beginning of some technique if they have not been exposed to it before. And for those who have, it is just a chance to be around more like-minded students, right,” she said. “I mean, I remember being a young student really involved in theater. And so you look for the other kids who like theater too, right. And so this is a chance for students, and predominantly students of color, to be in that space and learn from people that they can look up to.”

For more information about the Obsidian Theatre Festival’s 2024 season, visit For details about the Detroit Impact Arts Conference, visit

Use the media player above to hear the full interview with Jones.

More headlines from The Metro on June 24, 2024:

  • It’s New Member Monday at WDET and anyone who makes their first donation to WDET and becomes a new member at any point during the day will be automatically entered in a drawing to win a pair of VIP Tickets to the Burger Battle. To talk more about the competition, Scott Rutterbush, the owner of Dine Drink Detroit — which puts on the Burger Battle in Eastern Market — joined The Metro.
  • Detroit’s 66th Annual Ford Fireworks – considered one of the largest fireworks displays in the United States – is set to take place around 10 p.m. Thursday. The free public event will include viewing locations at Hart Plaza, Belle Isle and Spirit Plaza. Can’t make it downtown? While personal fireworks are not allowed at the event, the Detroit fireworks marks the beginning of fireworks season, with many enjoying their own personal displays with family and friends leading up to Independence Day. But what are the best ways to enjoy fireworks at home – especially with the recent heatwave we’ve been facing? To learn more safety tips, Paul Rogers, a fire prevention specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, joined the show.

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