November 29, 2014 – December 7, 2014
December 11, 2014 – January 4, 2015
This retelling of the Christmas story from an Afro-centric perspective is infused with rich gospel, blues, funk, jazz, and dance with griot style story telling from an ensemble cast. Embracing the original spirit of Hughes’ work, Black Nativity serves as a deep exploration of cultural identity, pride, and unity within the African-American community while also bringing a fresh voice to this holiday classic.
Directed by Eric Ruffin, with music direction by e’Marcus Harper-Short and choreography by Princess Mhoon, Black Nativity will feature a talented ensemble cast of DC based performers.
For this production of Black Nativity The Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Bowie State University is sponsoring seven performances at Bowie State University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center, then the production moves to the Anacostia Playhouse, where it runs through January 4th.
This holiday classic returns to Theater Alliance with the fresh voice of director Eric Ruffin, as Hughes chronicles and celebrates the Nativity, while also celebrating the miracle of Blackness. Hughes’ retelling of the Nativity Story encourages audiences to find joy and beauty in being Black, which will ultimately lead to peace and hope for the world and will be one’s salvation. This timeless story asks audiences to look inward and find the wonder in life itself.
Black Nativity originally premiered at New York City’s Lincoln Theatre in December 1961. It was the first play by an African American playwright to be produced at the venue.
This performance is recommended for audiences of all ages.
Produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY of Woodstock, Illinios.
Black Nativity is funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities,
an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Production Sponsors Steven Choi and Will Sherman.
Director – Eric Ruffin
Music Director – e’Marcus Harper-Short
Choreographer – Princess Mhoon
Scenic Designer – Brian Gillick
Costume Designer – Collin Ranney
Lighting Designer – Chistopher Annas-Lee
Dramaturgy – Faedra Carpenter
Stage Manager – Eric Swartz
Eric Ruffin – Director
Eric Ruffin’s most recent regional theatre directing credits include 2-2 Tango at Studio Theatre, Christmas Gift at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, A Raisin in the Sun at Crossroads Theatre, Old Settler for The African Continuum Theatre Company, Gutta Beautiful at New Federal Theatre, New Kid for Imagination Stage, and the critically acclaimed New Jersey premiere of Topdog /Underdog for Luna Stage. He has also directed Not About Nightingales, Venus, Passing Strange, and Cut Flowers at the Ira Aldridge Theatre in addition to In The Blood, Antigone, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, Jesus Hopped the “A” Train and Our Lady of 121st Street for the Rutgers Theatre Company. Other credits include Public Ghosts/ Private Stories at the George Street Playhouse, Romeo and Juliet at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Piano Lesson for The African Globe, My Children! My Africa! at Luna Stage, Waiting to be Invited for The Black Theatre Troupe, and The Story for the Howard Players.
He founded “The Acting Studio” at the Newark School of the Arts, a professional training program for actors, and was the founder and Artistic Director for the Newark Youth Ensemble, Newark, NJ. Additionally he has served as the Artistic Director for The New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Young Writer Workshop and has taught at various schools including Howard University, Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Ruffin holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Howard University and an MFA in Directing from Rutgers University. He is a Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Associate, a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect and a 1999 recipient of the New York Drama League Directing Fellowship. He has also been honored with a Shakespeare Theatre Acting Fellowship, and the Princess Grace Grant for Dance.
e’Marcus Harper-Short – Musical Director
e’Marcus Harper most recently appeared at the Goodman in Crowns during the 2003/2004 Season. He is a Grammy Award-nominated gospel music conductor from Washington, D.C. He has recorded, performed and/or toured with gospel music artists such as the late Rev. James Cleveland, the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, the late Rev. Donald Vails, and the Hawkins; as well as Lionel Ritchie, Carlos Santana, Michael Jackson, and Aretha Franklin. His theater credits include Preacher in God’s Trombones (Mike Malone Group); Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess (Municipal Opera Company of Baltimore); C.C. White in Dreamgirls (Howard University Production/Shousan Theatre, Hong Kong); John in Sirens (Al Freeman, Jr. Productions); Papa Ge in Once On This Island (Howard University Productions); composer/music director of No Fair Tale and co-composer/music director of Show Face (City at Peace, performed at Arena Stage). He is the artistic director of The Performing Arts Program for Teens in Washington, D.C.
Princess Mhoon – Choreographer
With work commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Princess Mhoon has been called a “visionary of her generation.” Known for her chameleon-like quality, Mhoon’s movement seamlessly connects modern, ballet, hip-hop, and African dance styles, and has been seen nationally and internationally. She is an experienced choreographer, dance educator, and scholar and has taught throughout the United States and abroad. Mhoon Cooper has served on faculty at Howard University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and a Master of Arts degree in Public History. In 2006 Mhoon was recognized in Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 to Watch” in the world for her Co-Direction of This Woman’s Wok Choreographic Development Project. She is currently the Founder and Director of the Princess Mhoon Dance Institute located in Silver Spring, Maryland.