December 11, 1961: 'Black Nativity'

From the book "Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History":

On this date in 1961, "Black Nativity" opened on Broadway. Langston Hughes' self-described "gospel song play" was staged at New York City's Lincoln Theater. The Christmas story performed in dialog, narrative, pantomine, gospel song and folk spirituals in an expression of Hughes' late-in-life interest in African-American spirituality and the oral traditions of the African-American church.

(Note: The Broadway opening was actually at the 41st Street Theatre.)

From a review in The New York Times:

There is a lot of song but hardly any play in Langston Hughes' Christmas song-play, "Black Nativity" ... what play there is might well be dispensed with. It takes the form of amateurish choreography, which gets in the way of the gospel singing. If there is any justification for "Black Nativity," it is in the singing. ... The rhythms are so vibrant that they seem to lead an independent existence. The voices plunge into sudden dark growls like muted trombones and soar in ecstatic squeals like frantic clarinets. ... It is not always art -- and the occasional organ sounds are embarrasingly cloying -- but it is overflowing in fervor.

* Excerpt from "Langston Hughes" (book by Harold Bloom): @
* Excerpt from "The Collected Works of Langston Hughes": (book): @
* Selections from "Black Nativity": @
* More about Hughes (from www.poetryfoundation.org): @

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog archive


Follow: @