Reimagining Tradition: ‘Black Nativity’ Delivers Uplifting Message At University Of The Arts”


In the heart of Philadelphia, John Graves, a native of the city, sits focused at a sewing machine, meticulously crafting a bright green garment. Each stitch represents a crucial part of his vision, a vision that goes beyond the ordinary.


The Freedom of Expression in ‘Black Nativity’

"Discover the transformative power of 'Black Nativity' in Philadelphia - a musical journey with John Graves, offering a fresh perspective and festive emotions."

Langston Hughes’ ‘Black Nativity,’ originally written in 1961, takes center stage in Graves’ latest production. Graves emphasizes the liberty and freedom one has when presenting the Black Nativity script, highlighting the opportunity for creative reinterpretation.

A Reimagined Second Act

Debuting at the University of the Arts in Center City, the upcoming presentation of ‘Black Nativity’ boasts a second act crafted by Graves himself, with a focus on music. The reimagined act includes a fusion of deep house, techno, rhythm and blues, along with classic gospel melodies, providing a unique and vibrant experience for the audience.


Addressing Holiday Emotions

Graves, not only the director but also a performer in the production, aims to convey a message that transcends the usual holiday cheer. Recognizing that some individuals may be feeling lonely or sad during this season, the production endeavors to address these difficult emotions in a way that uplifts and resonates with Philadelphia audiences.

Diverse Cast and Community Involvement

The cast, spanning ages from 5 to 65, comprises local talent from various parts of Philadelphia. Graves expresses pride in the diverse representation, with participants coming from South Philly, North Philly, West Philly, and beyond. The community’s enthusiastic response to the casting call highlights the production’s broad appeal.


‘Refreshed, Inspired, and Beautiful’

Graves envisions the impact of ‘Black Nativity’ not just as entertainment but as an emotional experience. He hopes that audiences leave the performance feeling “refreshed, inspired, and beautiful,” embodying the essence of the three words he had in mind during the conceptualization of the second act.

Event Details and Tickets

Langston Hughes’ ‘Black Nativity’ is scheduled to run from December 20th to 24th at the University of the Arts on Broad Street in Center City, Philadelphia. Ticket prices start at $40, with group discounts available. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

As the curtains rise on this unique rendition of ‘Black Nativity,’ John Graves and his team invite the audience to experience a holiday production that goes beyond the traditional narrative, offering a fresh perspective and a celebration of diversity and community spirit.

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