Black Nativity

Langston Hughes perfected his synthesis of theatre and gospel in his reimagining of the classic nativity story with an all-Black cast, Black Nativity. The play opened to rapturous applause on December 11, 1961 at the 41st Street Theatre on Broadway and to this day is a staple of Christmas stage programming across America. In 2013, Black Nativity enjoyed a film adaptation starring Forest Whittaker and Angela Bassett.

“Black Nativity marked a major breakthrough in the gospel musical form. As with his evolving mastery of the blues in the 1920s, when he had moved from merely framing the black form within traditional European stanzaic patterns to a complete immersion in it—writing blues themselves, without mediation—Hughes now deliberately allowed black music and religion to overwhelm the traditional play form.”

— Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes

Title: Black Nativity
Published: 1961
Genre: Plays