The Green Pastures

The Green Pastures

First edition

The Green Pastures is a play written in 1930 by Marc Connelly adapted from Ol' Man Adam an' His Chillun (1928), a collection of stories written by Roark Bradford. The play was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1930.

The play portrays episodes from the Old Testament as seen through the eyes of a young African-American child in the Depression-era South, who interprets The Bible in terms familiar to her. Following Bradford's lead, Connelly (a white man) set the biblical stories in New Orleans and in an all-black context. He diverged from Bradford's work, however, in enlarging the role of the character "De Lawd" (God), played on stage by Richard B. Harrison (1864–1935). The Green Pastures also featured numerous African American spirituals arranged by Hall Johnson and performed by The Hall Johnson Choir.


Connolly later collaborated with William Keighley in the direction of a Hollywood film adaptation of the play, which was made in 1936, starring Rex Ingram as "De Lawd". At the time the film caused some controversy. It was banned in Australia, Finland, and Hungary on the grounds that it was "blasphemous" to portray Biblical characters in this way. While the play and the film adaptation were generally well received and hailed by white drama and film critics, African American intellectuals, cultural critics, and audiences were more critical of Connelly's claim to be presenting an authentic view of black religious thought.

The play was adapted for television, and presented twice during the days of live TV on the Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1957 and 1959. Both productions starred William Warfield as "De Lawd", in the largest dramatic acting role he ever had on television.


  • Connelly, Marc (1929). The Green Pastures, A Fable. New York: Faffar and Rinehart.
  • Connelly, Marc (1968). Voices Offstage: A Book of Memoirs. Chicago: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

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