Collage of images from films in the Fest

In 1926, W.E.B. Du Bois said “The Plays of a real Negro theatre must be…About us…By us…For us…Near us.” 

This is the philosophy that is behind the 5th Annual Columbus Black Theatre Festival (CBTF).  The CBTF event is organized to support, encourage and recognize Black Theatre playwrights who tell the stories of being Black, living Black, working Black, raising Black, dying Black and loving Black people.

The CBTF is an opportunity to celebrate the production of plays about the Black experience written by new and seasoned playwrights.

When asked “what is the most important aspect of having a Black Theatre Festival to you?” returning playwright, Charlay Marie (The Bet), states “With Black on Black crime, police brutality and all other aspects of violence at an all-time high, Columbus, Ohio needs a comic relief in the form of entertainment and enlightenment. Theater gives playwrights a chance to fix what’s wrong in the community by tackling tough subjects and introducing our audience to a better way of thinking. Black theatre brings the community together to celebrate our differences, understand our strengths, and grow as a unit.”

First-time playwright, Phylis Mack (Tyra), says that her play “gives a message of hope that no matter what’s going on there is hope in the world…A lot of Tyra is something that I think everybody can relate too. It’s something that at one point, whether it be a rejection of your family, whether it would be somebody that you know has been addicted to drugs, someone who has felt helpless and looking at suicide for an answer. Those are no answers, not another drink, not another just going with a buddy or girlfriend and just talking about it, we need something deeper to bring us out from there, we need hope in this world today.”

Talib Andre’ (Nobody Famous) from New York, brings a “satirical social commentary that takes you on a journey of self-discovery by examining life behind bars for five women at NYSCF: New York State Correctional Facility for Women. This piece celebrates women with mental-illness, those in positions of power, those who want to be loved unconditionally, those who stand up and fight against their injustices in our community and those who are just a little rough around the edges. Other themes explored are issues surrounding human-rights, death and life after death, prisoner rights, victim’s rights and equitable execution of civil rights with all of their inalienable privileges.”

Jean E. Green (Welcome to the Masquerade) returns for the third year with the continuing saga of Mable Cleveland’s family who deal with family secrets, guilt, lies and the struggles of a “Christian” family. Founder of the CBTF, Julie Whitney Scott (A Church Divided Can’t Multiply), deals with the division caused in churches due to “dividing members by who has the most important position, who has committed the most sin, who gives the most money, who is always at the church every time the doors open and all the other things that keep members divided, the church can’t grow.” 

Returning playwright, Tisha Griffith (The Inconvenient Truth), deals with relationships between married couples, infidelity, pregnancy outside of marriage, parent interference in marriages and why people will stay in a bad relationship based on the advice of outsiders. Tasha Neal (A Survivor’s Guide to a G-h-e-t-t-o Family” returns for her one-woman comedy show for the third year and Flow-Theatre (An Evening with Flow) also returns with their musical, poetic, dance theatre performances.

Ohio poet, author and playwright, Is Said's (Houses) play deals with the homeless people who live in all our cities of the United States. Is Said returns each year to share his poems and wisdom as a seasoned playwright who has written hundreds of plays.

The art of Black Theatre, like all theatre needs to be taught, learned, practiced and performed before a live theatre audience. This year's award winning theatre company, PAST Productions Columbus will provide a free theatre workshop to help adults, middle and high school youth learn valuable skills to help them with their acting goals.

This growing annual community theatre festival promotes fellowship among all races of people, all ages of people and all people who love the theatre and arts. It will be a weekend filled with comedy, drama, music, dance, vendors and people from surrounding Ohio cities and other states.

This three-day annual event will occur this July 7th, 8th & 9th, at the Columbus Performing Arts Center 549 Franklin Ave. Columbus, OH 43215. Tickets at

“I ain’t never found no place for me to fit.  Seems like all I do is start over. It ain’t nothing to find no starting place in the world. You just start from where you find yourself.” August Wilson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Our stories must be told.



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