November 24th - December 30th, 2000

“MARY! MARY! What you gonna name that pretty lil’ baby!?”

“And his name shall be called JESUS.”

Christmas Carols with THE BEAT. Positive. Positive. Positive. Hey Baby Jesus, It’s Aaaaaall Gooooooood!!! Gospel Choir Singers singing Christmas songs with Angelic Voices Harmonizing from the Heavens Above.

Christmas Songs and a Soul Train Dance with a Jamaican Beat.

Lord, Have Mercy. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

Throughout the upcoming holiday season, the Ensemble Theatre will celebrate the miracle of Christmas with Langston Hughes’s gospel musical, Black Nativity, adapted and directed by Marsha Jackson - Randolph. Patdro Harris serves as assistant director and choreographer.

Presented in two parts, the first segment of Black Nativity recounts the story of the birth of Christ through the eyes of a black man who follows the star to the Bethlehem stable. Combining Scripture with powerful poetic verse, Hughes reminds us that Christ came to save all people - that every race knelt before the child in the manger.

The play’s second act is a present - day Christmas Eve service at the Harlem River Drive Full - Gospel Church. Underscored by both classic and contemporary hymns, stores of the Lord’s presence in modern life encourage optimism through the promise of rebirth and salvation. “This play,” says director Jackson - Randolph, “celebrates the miraculous birth that reconciles all the trials and challenges in our lives today.”

BLACK NATIVITY reinforces the authentic spirit of Christmas and is an uplifting, inspirational experience for the entire family. Following its 1961 debut at New York’s 41st Street Theatre, the play was often called “THE BLACK MESSIAH” and enjoyed a long run in both the United States and abroad. Forty (40) years later, we hope BLACK NATIVITY will continue to be a seasonal favorite with audiences throughout the world.

Langston Hughes (1902 - 1967) was a poet, novelist, playwright, columnist and essayist who traveled extensively throughout the United States, Mexico and Asia. His stories reflect how deeply moved and influenced he was by the people, music, cultures and conditions he encountered along the way. His long and distinguished career, which began with poems and short stories written in high school, has inspired countless other literary and performance artists.

Marsha Jackson - Randolph, playwright, actor and director, co-founded Atlanta’s Jomandi Productions, the third - largest African - American theater company in the United States. Her perceptive adaptation and direction of Black Nativity skillfully blends Langston Hughes’s original concept with modern examples of how Christ’s spirit is at work today. “Through the experience of this play,” says Jackson - Randolph, “I, along with the creative team and artists of this production, hope that audiences will come to appreciate that Christmas is not merely a celebration of things past; it is a celebration of possibility and hope for today and tomorrow.”

The Ensemble Theatre, founded by the late George C. Hawkins, began as a touring company in 1976. Hawkins’ dream of quality theatre reflecting the African American experience was soon realized by local, regional and national playwrights, performers and production professionals, and the Ensemble Theatre is now one of the oldest and most honored theatres in the southwestern United States.