Home Leisure & Sports The 18th Annual Shades of Black Theatre Festival kicks off in September

The 18th Annual Shades of Black Theatre Festival kicks off in September

by Cass Teague
Austin Dean Ashford in “Black Book.”

SistaStyle Productions and Destiny Theatre Experience are pleased to announce the 18th Annual Shades of Black Theatre Festival, which will run at the Darkhorse Theater, September 5th-30th. In addition to full-length shows, the festival will also feature an opening mixer, workshops, a spoken word show, and other special events.

The purpose of the Shades of Black Theatre Festival is to provide an outlet to uplift the voices of Black artists, while at the same time, being inclusive to artists of other races and ethnicities. 

Ticket prices may vary. All Shades of Black events will be held at the Darkhorse Theater, 4610 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN 37209, unless otherwise specified. Event information can be found at darkhorsetheater.com and the Shades of Black Theatre Festival Facebook page: Facebook.com/shadestheatrefest. 

Below is a list of festival events. More events are currently being added.


Friday, 9/8 – The Poesy Lounge (spoken word & music show) presented by Actin’ Up Media, hosted by Shawn Whitsell, featuring Jene India, Poppy Teez, Austin Dean Ashford, Nakessa, Spoke-N-Words, and Free Fyre. 7:30 pm. $20

Saturday, 9/9 – Game Night / Rap Monologues – hosted by J. McNutt, 6 pm Games / 7 pm Performances by Austin Dean Ashford, Seanfresh, Carmen Van Leer, and Marcus Allen

Friday 9/15 and 9/17th – “Girl Dad” – Presented by Actin’ Up Media

Dive into the captivating drama-comedy stage play, “Girl Dad”, crafted by Michael L. Walker. Navigate through a touching family tale reflecting modern realities, directed by acclaimed Leonard Ledford III. Witness the journey of Duck, unexpectedly becoming a father, and his own dad, Darnell, mentoring him. Revel in the comedy amidst family chaos and the tension of personal relationships, underpinning a young girl’s life with an absent mom and a dedicated dad. “Girl Dad” brilliantly portrays family ties, obligations, and the resolute men who prioritize family after God. It’s a heartwarming exploration of fatherhood, strength, sacrifice, and life’s humor amid hardships. “Girl Dad” isn’t just a play, it’s an homage to the unsung heroes in our lives. Book your tickets now, for an unforgettable night of laughter, tears, and poignant moments. 7:30 pm. Tickets: $20 online

Saturday, 9/16 – “Black Book” (solo show) by Austin Dean Ashford – 7:30 pm 

Welcome to Melvin Tolson High School—it’s summer school, it’s hot, the barbwire fence is fixed, and a young African American boy has been shot, leaving his group of friends reeling from the loss and wondering if their voices can ever be heard. Enter a former Great Debater to teach a master class on public speaking and challenge this group of boys to speak out and give voice to their hopes and fears. Filled with pressing issues, inspiring characters, and graced with comic flourishes, this one-person dramedy debates what happens to young minds when our educational spaces begin to resemble a prison more than school and a place to learn and grow.

Saturday, 9/16 Dashikis & Daiquiris – 9 pm – FREE Dashiki/African attire-themed party, hosted by Shawn Whitsell

Friday, 9/22 & Saturday, 9/30 – “Destined Beyond (Immersive Theatre Journey)

Presented by Destiny Theatre Experience – 7:30 pm – $15 online / $20 at the door

Destined Beyond is an immersive theatre experience, where attendees will walk through various parts of the Darkhorse Theater into different “worlds” and experience characters and pivotal moments from various plays by Shawn Whitsell in a new, more interactive way. 

Friday, 9/29 – “Why Goodbye

presented by SistaStyle Productions – 7:30 pm

Written by Mary McCallum

Directed by Keith Franklin

Performed by Mary McCallum & Keith Franklin

A recently split married couple find themselves together again when Jerome unexpectedly returns home to collect his things. Fireworks explode as Angela tries to keep her plans for the evening on track. Will they figure out why they said goodbye?

More information: sistastyleproductions.com

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