LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Black Rep giving back through ‘Black Nativity’

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Black Rep giving back through ‘Black Nativity’
December 03
00:00 2015

To the Editor:

From the beginning, the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC) has used theatre to give back to the community. Every two years, the NCBRC hosts the National Black Theatre Festival, its international outreach program, which boosts the city and state’s economies. The company also prepares the next generation of professional theatre artists through the Teen Theatre Ensemble (TTE), a six-week intensive that introduces local youth to the fundamental elements of theatre.

True to its mission of developing the community through the theatre arts, the NCBRC will be producing its annual revival of the classic gospel play “Black Nativity” Dec. 4-6 and 11-13.

Created by the poet and dramatist Langston Hughes, “Black Nativity” tells the story of Jesus Christ’s birth from a black perspective. The play blends gospel music, dance and poetry to captivate audiences. When it debuted on Broadway in December 1961, the play was an instant success. Soon, it quickly achieved international success, touring many major cities in Europe. As a result, “Black Nativity” helped to legitimize gospel music and became a staple of Black theatre.

Just as it did in the 1960s, the play still has the power to engage and amaze the community. The story as well as the accompanying gospel music connects the viewer with their spirituality. For the company’s production, the creative team chose to use a West African theme in the costume and choreography to evoke the ancestral roots of black people. However, the NCBRC does not want to engage the community only as audience members. The production team and cast are all residents from the Triad.

Additionally, the NCBRC works hard to involve the community because the play holds personal significance to the company. Mabel Robinson, the company’s artistic director, originated the role of Mary in the Broadway production, replacing Cleo Quitman. She continued to perform the role for many years on the national and international tours. She believes the experience to be the highlight of her career as it sparked her interest in Black theatre. Due to the play’s influence on her, she suggested it to Larry Leon Hamlin, the company’s founder and former artistic director, who wanted to produce a Christmas show to connect to the community. It has become a tradition now, as this year is the 15th production by the NCBRC.

The company is proud to be presenting its annual production of “Black Nativity.” We are also extremely enthused to continue to foster our relationship with the citizens of the region, whose support we greatly appreciate. Please come out and join us as we tell the story of Jesus Christ’s birth. As we always say at the NCBRC, we’re saving a seat just for you.

Ivan Mosley

Office Assistant with the NCBRC

and a 2013 WFU graduate

with a BA in Theatre

About Author

WS Chronicle

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