Nat Turner in Jerusalem

Nat Turner in Jerusalem

by  Nathan Alan Davis

Full Length Play, Drama  /  2m

"The sparse, persuasive two-hander examines America's racial history, but feels disturbingly close to the present day." - The Village Voice
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Nat Turner in Jerusalem

by  Nathan Alan Davis

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

  • Duration


    90 minutes
  • SubGenre


    Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades


    From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

In August 1831, Nat Turner led a slave uprising that shook the conscience of the nation. Turner’s startling account of his prophecy and the insurrection was recorded and published by attorney Thomas R. Gray. Nathan Alan Davis writes a timely new play that imagines Turner’s final night in a jail cell in Jerusalem, Virginia, as he is revisited by Gray and they reckon with what has passed, and what the dawn will bring. Woven with vivid imagery and indelible lyricism, Nat Turner in Jerusalem examines the power of an individual’s resolute convictions and their seismic reverberations through time.
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"[T]he most interesting part of the creative exercise is not the activity inside Turner's cell, but the breadth of its implications about our relationship with history as a whole — whether 200 years past or flooding your Twitter feeds as we speak." - Theatremania, Read More 

"But while offering a corrective to earlier interpretations of Turner’s narrative, Davis doesn’t attempt to saddle it with an equally overbearing one; he resists any singular reading, let alone an overtly political one. He prefers to let the tale remain as mysterious and open-ended as possible, and thus, in its way, more terrifying." - New York Magazine, Read More 

"The sparse, persuasive two-hander examines America's racial history, but feels disturbingly close to the present day." - The Villaige Voice, Read More 


From the Desk of Licensing: February Edition
David Kimple
February 20, 2019


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Professional Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language

License details

  • Minimum Fee: £55 per performance plus VAT when applicable.



  • Time Period: 19th Century
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Setting: A small, dark holding room in Jerusalem, Southampton County, VA. 
    The evening of Nov. 10th to the morning of Nov. 11th, 1831. 
  • Additional Features: No intermission
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


NAT TURNER - (M, Black, 30s) A religious leader, author of a slave uprising and now prisoner on the eve of his execution.
THOMAS R. GRAY - (M, White, 30s): A lawyer, rhetorician and now the author of Nat’s confession.
GUARD - (M White, 30s): A jailor. Played by the actor playing Thomas Gray. 
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Cast Attributes

  • Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
  • All Male
  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)




Nathan Alan Davis

Nathan Alan Davis is a playwright from Rockford, IL, now based in New York. His plays include NAT TURNER IN JERUSALEM, DONTRELL WHO KISSED THE SEA and THE WIND AND THE BREEZE. His work has been produced and developed by New York Theatre Workshop, McCarter Theatre, The Public Theater, Arena Stage, Williamstown Theatre F ...

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Nat Turner in Jerusalem premiered at the New york Theatre Workshop in New York City in September 2016 under the direction of Megan Sandberg-Zakian.

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