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'Black Nativity' Allen Weeks

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Black Nativity

Every Wed., Thu., Fri., Sat., and Sun. from Dec. 1-23
7:30 p.m.
Every Sat. from Dec. 1-23
2 p.m.
Every Sun. from Dec. 1-23
4 p.m.
$15-$40
Holiday, Theater

“The story is a simple one,” Lou Bellamy says about Black Nativity, “and I wanted it to be simple again.” Black Nativity has been a cherished Twin Cities holiday tradition for three decades, and it’s all the more so now that presenting company Penumbra Theatre is back from the brink of financial collapse. As he gradually hands leadership reins over to his daughter Sarah, founder Lou Bellamy remains active, directing this fall’s acclaimed Jitney and returning to narrate Black Nativity. While some past years have featured high-concept variations on the play (“We had gilded it so that it was almost collapsing under its own weight,” says Bellamy), this year’s show is retaining the straightforward concert staging that Langston Hughes initially used for his 1961 retelling of the Christmas story. “What it is now,” says Bellamy, “is stripped down to the way Langston first did it. It was done with a choir, two dancers, and a narrator. We’ve brought it back to that essence.”