Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Front Cover
Samuel French, Inc., Jan 1, 1985 - Drama - 98 pages
38 Reviews
Play with music

Characters: 8 males (5 black, 3 white) 2 black females

Scenery: Unit set

It's 1927 in a rundown studio in Chicago where Ma Rainey is recording new sides of old favorites. More goes down in the session than music in this riveting portrayal of rage, racism, the self hate and exploitation.

"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." N.Y. Times.

"Brilliant ... explosive! Dramatically riveting." Newhouse Newspapers.

Winner New York Drama Critics Circle Award.


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Review: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (The Century Cycle #3)

User Review  - Adira - Goodreads

Full review to come. Mr. Wilson sure does know how to write an ending. This one wasn't as good as Joe Turner's Come &Gone, but it was still a good play. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a quick and easy read or who loves African-American Literature or Blues' novels. Read full review

Review: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (The Century Cycle #3)

User Review  - Courtney H. - Goodreads

On its face, Ma Rainey is about jazz and its players during the 1920s. At its heart, Ma Rainey is about power. The whole play bleeds over with hierarchies, personal power politics, and larger systems ... Read full review

Selected pages


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 9
Section 10
Section 11

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About the author (1985)

Playwright August Wilson was born on April 27, 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His experiences of living in a primarily black community and then being the only black student in his class at a Roman Catholic high school would inform his dramatic writings. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 and continued his education on his own. Wilson wrote a ten play cycle that chronicles each decade of the black experience in the 20th century. Each of his plays focuses on what he perceived as the largest issue to confront African-Americans in that decade. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fences and Piano Lesson, the best play Tony Award for Fences, and seven New York Drama Critics' Circle awards. He also received the Whiting Foundation Award, the American Theatre Critics Award, the 1999 National Humanities Medal awarded by the President, and numerous honorary degrees. He died of liver cancer on October 2, 2005 at the age of 60.

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