Black Nativity

A poet’s Christmas vision brought to vibrant life

In a frightening time when some Americans doubted that black people even had souls, iconic Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes illuminated the unparalleled joy and fervor of African-American spirituality with his gospel retelling of Christ’s birth. Black Nativity, Hughes’ two acts of poetry and prose—one a peek into the manger as narrated by the black community, the other a slice of a contemporary, multi-denominational church service—have a soothing effect on the often stressful holiday season with its unique brightness and honest joie de vivre. Captivating Seattle religious leaders Pastor Patrinell Wright (also the musical composer) and Reverend Dr. Samuel B. McKinney pay homage to Hughes’ vision for the tenth year at Intiman with a technically superb and spiritually enriching night of theater and prayer, including two choirs “gospelizing” traditional Christmas carols into stunning three- and four-part harmonies and oodles of dancers and other performers. In addition to earnest worship with the audience and a rousing “roll-call” of various Christian denominations, there are moments of comedic self-awareness as Pastor Wright’s character pokes fun at some aspects of black church services. (In other words, it’s okay to laugh and enjoy yourself.) For those (orthodox or atheistic) seeking to rediscover the genuine meaning of the holidays, Hughes’ message of enduring hope rings out across all religious boundaries to reassert why our ancestors decided to celebrate during the darkest, coldest time of year in the first place. Performances, mostly Wed.-Sun., through Dec. 28; see www.intiman.org for exact schedule.

Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Nov. 28. Continues through Dec. 28, 2007

 
comments powered by Disqus