Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at the National Theatre
National Theatre, Upper Ground, London, SE1 9PX
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom starring Sharon D Clarke at the National Theatre.
Inspired by the real-life Blues legend and infused with her music, August Wilson’s play speaks powerfully of a struggle for self-determination against overwhelming odds.
August Wilson (1945-2005)’s many plays include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences and The Piano Lesson, as well as Jitney and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will play a strictly limited run from 26 January 2016 until 18 May 2016 at the National Theatre.
Chicago, 1927. In a recording studio on the city’s South Side, a battle of wills is raging.
Ma Rainey, Mother of the Blues, uses every trick in the book to fight her record producers for control of her music. Hardened by years of ill-treatment and bad deals, she’s determined that ‘Black Bottom’, the song that bears her name, will be recorded her way. But Levee, the band’s swaggering young trumpet player, plans to catapult the band into the jazz age. His ambition puts them all in danger.
The cast is led by Sharon D Clarke as Ma Rainey, alongside Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter, Ricardo Coke-Thomas, John Paul Connolly, Jermaine Dominique, Clint Dyer, O-T Fagbenle, Stephen Fawkes, Tamara Lawrance, Tunji Lucas, Finbar Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Lucian Msamati, Kadeem Pearse, Giles Terera and Lucy Vandi.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson is directed by Dominic Cooke, with design by Ultz, lighting by Charles Balfour, music by Tim Sutton, sound by Paul Arditti, movement by Coral Messam and fight direction by Bret Yount.
★★★★★ ‘Revelatory – a marvellous revival of August Wilson’s tale of a blues legend and her band in 1927 Chicago’ The Telegraph
★★★★ ‘This big, bold piece about 1920s race relations is a play of passion and power, starring a majestic Sharon D Clarke’ The Guardian
★★★★ ‘Dominic Cooke’s lively production gloriously realises August Wilson’s radical politics.’ Evening Standard
★★★★ ‘Sharon D Clarke offers a wonderfully obstreperous performance as the eponymous blues star’ Time Out
★★★★ ‘Superbly orchestrated…immensely powerful production’ The Stage