Weekend To-Do: 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' | Rock Candy

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weekend To-Do: 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'

Posted By on Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 10:48 AM


7:30 p.m., The Weekend Theater. $10 students and seniors, $15 general admission.

The Weekend Theater celebrates Black History Month with a play of race politics, Chicago jazz and opportunism in the recording studio as written by August Wilson, the late, legendary author of brilliant, Pulitzer-winning plays "The Piano Lesson" and "Fences." "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" premiered on Broadway in 1984, winning the 1985 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play and kicking off Wilson's famous "Pittsburgh Cycle," a 10-part, decade-by-decade exploration of the black experience in 20th century America. The play centers around four jazz musicians waiting for Ma Rainey, the famed "Mother of the Blues," to arrive in the studio to record her new album. They spend the time telling war stories from segregated clubs, trading jazz-era tall tales and soon find themselves drowning in a competitive tension that comes to a head when Ma arrives with her entourage and two dubious, white producers. Few, if any, playwrights ever wrote with as much clarity and insight into the black experience as August Wilson and this, one of his best pieces, is no exception.

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