Race, music and exploitation come under the spotlight on the Lyttelton stage in 2016 as Dominic Cooke directs Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Almost 30 years after delighting the critics at its UK Premiere, August Wilson's award-winning play returns to the National Theatre for its first major UK revival.
The Pulitzer-winning playwright gives a fictionalised account of real people and events in the history of blues music in 1920s America. Written as part of a ten play project examining the African American experience, the Pittsburgh cycle, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is the only one of the series to be set in Chicago and tells a fictionalised account of the real life blues musicians.
The titular Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was a hit song by famous singer and mother of Blues, Ma Rainey. Set on one afternoon in a recording studio, the play tells a story of spiralling tensions as the musicians and Ma Rainey discuss the industry's treatment of African-American artists. As conflict mounts, the story climaxes in a moment of violence.
Having established himself as a master of staging new writing and bold revivals while Artistic Director of the Royal Court, Dominic Cooke will helm this production at the National Theatre after taking the reigns of the new Caryl Churchill play this winter.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom 2016 cast
The lead role of Ma Rainey, famously played by Whitney Houston on Broadway, will be played by Sharon D. Clarke, who will be returning to the National Theatre after her Olivier-winning role in The Amen Corner.
Having impressed in opera (Porgy and Bess, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre), musical theatre (We Will Rock You, Dominion Theatre) and Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, Rose Theatre), Clarke is a formidable talent. She will be joined by a cast of experienced stage actors inducing Giles Terera and Lucian Msamati.
Public booking for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom opens at 8:30am on Thursday 22 October
|What||Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, National Theatre|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
26 Jan 16 – 18 May 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£5 - £55|
|Website||Click here to book via the National Theatre|