August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

A SAMUEL FRENCH, INC. TITLE

August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Full-Length Play, Drama  /  2f, 8m

In a rundown Chicago recording studio in 1927, tempers rise and simmering conflicts erupt when the "Mother of the Blues" and her band record a set of jazz and blues standards.

Image: Joan Marcus

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    2f, 8m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Period
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Adult
Accolades
Accolades
  • Nominee: Three 1985 Tony Awards, including Best Play
    Nominee: Two 1985 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding New Play
    Winner! 1985 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play

Licence details
  • Minimum Fee: £69 per performance plus VAT when applicable.

    Please submit a license request to determine availability.
  • Mandatory Music/Media Fee: £32 per performance

Details

Summary
It's 1927 and Ma Rainey, the "Mother of the Blues," is recording new sides of old favorites in a rundown studio in Chicago. Fiery and determined, Ma Rainey fights to retain control over her music, while her cocky trumpet player Levee dreams of making his own name in the business. More than music goes down in August Wilson's riveting portrayal of rage, racism, self-hatred and exploitation.
History
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was first presented at the Yale Repertory Theatre, directed by Lloyd Richards, on April 6, 1984. The play opened on Broadway at the Cort Theatre on October 11, 1984, starring Theresa Merritt and Charles S. Dutton, again under the direction of Richards. A Broadway revival starrring Whoopi Goldberg opened at the Royale Theatre on February 6, 2003. On December 18, 2020, a film adaptation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, premiered on Netflix.
Cast Attributes
  • Role(s) for Black Actor(s)
  • Multicultural casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
Performing Groups
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
STURDYVANT
IRVIN
CUTLER
TOLDEO
SLOW DRAG
LEVEE
MA RAINEY
POLICEMAN
DUSSIE MAE
SYLVESTER
  • Time Period 1920s
  • Setting Chicago. A bandroom and a recording studio. Early 1927.
  • Features Period Costumes
  • Duration More than 120 minutes (2 hours)

Media

“Powerfully relevant! Ma Rainey challenges and nourishes, shocks and heals.” – Los Angeles Times

“Searing... funny, salty, carnal and lyrical... Wilson has lighted a dramatic fuse that snakes and hisses through several anguished eras of American life. When the fuse reaches its explosive final destination, the audience is impaled by the impact.” – The New York Times

“Powerfully relevant! Ma Rainey challenges and nourishes, shocks and heals.” – Los Angeles Times, Read More

“Brilliant... explosive! Dramatically riveting.” – Newhouse Newspapers

Videos

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom National Theatre Trailer

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Milwaukee Rep scene

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Arizona Theatre Company scene

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Live in The Greene Space

Photos

  • August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Image: Joan Marcus

Materials

Scripts

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Authors

August Wilson

August Wilson (April 27, 1945 - October 2, 2005) authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experienc ...

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