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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (The August Wilson Century Cycle) Hardcover – April 1, 2008
2016 Book Awards
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Frank Rich, The New York Times
"Extraordinary! Ma Rainey rides on the exultant notes of the blues!"
Jack Kroll, Newsweek
"What a joy! Brilliant . . . explosive! One of the most dramatically riveting plays I've seen in years. You must see it!"
William A Raidy, Newhouse Newspapers
"A genuine work of art . . ."
Brendan Gill, The New Yorker
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The scene for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom", takes place in a recording studio in 1927 where two white music executives are making a record with blues singer, Ma Rainey and a group of musicians.
Because the focus is on four male band members. it may take a while to try to put a face with each character, but within a short time, you grasp who the characters are - their values, beliefs and fears.
Ma Rainey's tone of voice is profound and nobody can push her around. Some critics report that Ma Rainey was exploitive and abusive to her band members, but I certainly did not get that impression. She was just tough and she knew how important her role was in blues music! Ma Rainey didn't take any crap from the white executives or anyone.
The dialogue interweaves with Ma's performance onstage and the band members during rehearsals. Their identities evolve and it's clear who and why they are as they share their experience with racist America and we then know their role in a racist society and industry.
A dramatic ending caps the story when the most bitter player reacts violently when another member steps on his shoes. To me, the incident seemed unjustifiable to provoke such a violent reaction by another member. It appeared out of place.
If you have an interest in the work of a great playwright or another interpretation of black experience through the decades, read more from this amazing man.
Although it features very good dialogue and some fine monologues, nothing much happens dramatically during the course of the play. There is an explosive finale, but it feels contrived and overdone, as though Wilson didn't know where to take his characters after all of the talking stopped.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Oh, yeah...got me playing Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and other blues singing women of the early 20th Century. Captures a time and age in a most artful way.Published 2 months ago by Jesse Bearheart
Very interesting play with a nice climax, conclusion and depiction of the times.Published 6 months ago by Quinton Stallworth
Amazing play. You knew something was gonna happen to poor Levee. They just picked on him for hoping to get something better and they got what they asked for.Published 13 months ago by wayne
It's a great play. I needed it for an audition. I'm not judging the play....maybe the delivery service, which was excellent. But everyone knows the play is an all-time classic.Published on August 9, 2013 by Tom Bloom
Had to read this book for class, so was not a book I normally would have picked on my own.Published on July 2, 2013 by Hannah Farnsworth