X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X


Writers: Anthony Davis Thulani Davis


Show Information

Based on the Play/Book/Film
by Christopher Davis
Number of Acts
First Produced
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
1925-1965, Harlem, New York, Michigan, Boston, Mecca
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Some Dance
Ideal for
Diverse Cast, Professional Opera
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult, child, late teen characters


The story of Malcolm X is an important one in the political and social history of American. He was a man who, after living through the effects of white supremacy, institutionalised racism, and social prejudice, had found an identity through faith. His conversion to Islam can with a new belief in the power of the black nation to rise up and take back the lives that they had lost under the hands of the slave owners, and their descendants. Partly through his own politically targeted religious sermons, and partly through the exaggeration of the media, Malcolm X became an icon for the Islamic overthrow of America, and was believed to be the instigator for religious violence in Harlem in the 1960s.

Anthony Davis’s opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X presents the biography of Malcolm Little, from a balanced perspective. It follows the key events in Malcolm’s life as his father is murdered by white supremacists, is separated from his family by social workers, is brought up in Boston and falls into a life of drugs and crime, and ends up in prison, where he seeks solace in the message of the Quran, and the promise of an African god: Allah.

On leaving prison, he continues his religious life and his teaching, and takes the name Malcolm X, with an X to represent the African name that was taken from him. His words of violence and retaliation appeal to his followers, but when Malcolm makes the Hajj to Mecca, he realises that the message of Islam is one of peace. There he takes the name El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, and returns home to face a world of violence, which finally ends with his assassination in 1965.

Lead Characters

X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X guide sections