© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

African Song & Dance Brings Nativity Story To Life in Milwaukee

Black Arts Think Tank
"Black Nativity" tells the story through a combination of African American scripture, poetry, dance and song.

When American poet and playwright Langston Hughes wrote the play originally named Wasn’t It a Mighty Day?, the American civil rights movement was gaining momentum. 

It was 1961, and the play became Black Nativity. It was one of the first plays written by an African-American person to be performed off-Broadway.

Credit marcuscenter.org / Black Arts Think Tank
Black Arts Think Tank

"Blacks wanted to identify themselves with the bible itself and Christ and Christianity and all of those things, and that was a great way for Langston to tie that together for people," says director Azeeza Islam of the Black Arts Think Tank.

The retelling of the nativity story with an all-black cast has been a staple of the American stage around Christmas season ever since its first production.  However, it has been absent from Milwaukee stages for some time. That changes this weekend ina new production running December 10 through the 13 the Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall. Black Nativity tells the classic Christmas story with gospel music, African American scripture, poetry, dance and song.

"When it comes to the black experience of that it really rings really loud and true when it comes to the gospel music that accompanies this time of year, and especially the Christmas holiday," says Islam.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.