Houston Matters

‘Fade to Black’ events highlight the work of emerging Black playwrights

S. Denise O’Neal talks about this week’s Fade to Black Reading Series and about events that elevate the work of BIPOC artists in the performing arts.

Actors on stage during the Fade to Black Play Festival.

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Every January for the past several years, emerging Black playwrights have an opportunity to showcase and refine their work at the Fade to Black Reading Series.

Artists submit their work, and, if selected, will have their play read by actors on stage and workshopped in front of an audience. This year, the reading series will be held Friday, Jan. 5, at The MATCH.

Black playwrights can also submit their work to be staged in short, ten-minute performances every June during the Fade to Black Play Festival.

Performers on stage during the Fade to Black Play Festival.

In the audio above, Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty talks with S. Denise O'Neal, the executive director of Shabach Enterprises, which runs both events. She tells him about what exposure at Fade to Black can do for aspiring playwrights and about some of the plays being featured during this year’s reading series.

O’Neal also previews the Fade to Black Arts Festival taking place in June of 2025 during which many of the city’s arts organizations will stage productions and host events with works by BIPOC artists.

S. Denice O'Neal of Fade to Black
Michael Hagerty/Houston Public Media
S. Denise O’Neal, the executive director of Shabach Enterprises, which runs the Fade to Black Reading Series and the Fade to Black Play Festival.