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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Summary
August Wilson

Everything you need to understand or teach Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson.

  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Summary & Study Guide

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Summary


August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, his first play in a ten-play cycle, each chronicling a decade in the African-American experience, was first performed at the Yale Repertory Theater in 1984, though Wilson began writing the play in 1976, after listening to the blues for more than a decade. Set in a Chicago recording studio in 1927, the two-act drama tells the story of a recording session with blues legend Ma Rainey, her band members, and the white producer and agent who made themselves wealthy through Rainey's recordings. The play explores race relations between blacks and whites in 1920s America and the African-American search for identity. The title comes from the song of the same name, which is at the heart of a major conflict in the play. Of particular note is Wilson's character, Levee, who literally embodies the aspirations and disappointments of black males during this era and, arguably, today. Wilson...

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Study Pack

The Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Study Pack contains about 65 pages of study material in 3 products, including:

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Study Guide

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