White folks don’t understand about the blues…. They don’t understand that’s life’s way of talking. You don’t sing to feel better. You sing ‘cause that’s a way of understanding life,” –Ma Rainey in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Now in previews, August Wilson’s hard-hitting “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” opens this Sunday September 11 and continues through October 16, 2016, at the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum. “Ma Rainey…” is part of Wilson’s American Century Cycle of 10 plays chronicling African American experience in 20th Century USA.
Phylicia Rashad, who directed Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at the Taper in 2013, directs this groundbreaking play which depicts the racism and exploitation in the music industry through a 1927 recording session in Chicago with a legendary blues singer. “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is inspired by the real-life Gertrude “Ma” Rainey. The cast features, in alphabetical order, Greg Bryan, Keith David, Jason Dirden, Damon Gupton, Matthew Henerson, Nija Okoro, Lamar Richardson, Ed Swidey, Glynn Turman and Lillias White.