Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
June 1 - June 25, 2017
Written by August Wilson, Directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes
From the extraordinary mind of Pulitzer, Tony, and Academy Award recognized playwright, August Wilson comes one of America’s most renowned stories. Inspired by the real life of legendary blues singer, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the opening installment in August Wilson’s award-winning Century Cycle– 10 illustrious plays that explore the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century.
A Tony Award Nominee for “Best Play,” The New York Times raves that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is “Extraordinary! [Wilson] writes with compassion, raucous humor and penetrating wisdom.” Don’t miss this theatrical tour-de-force by one of America’s greatest playwrights.
Connecting the community through artwork, stories, and conversation. Join us for discussions surrounding the themes of our plays and the impact of these stories on the community beyond our walls.
MEET THE DIRECTOR: A conversation with Deidra LaWan Starnes
June 4, 2017
Following the 2 pm performance-
A 1st Stage Artistic Associate, Ms. Starnes joins the production team again following her incredible performance in The Good Counselor in June 2015. We are thrilled to welcome her back, this time as the director of this monumental piece of theater. We’ll have a chance to talk with Ms. Starnes about helming a Wilson play and what it means to be doing this work in present day America.
MEET THE CAST: A discussion with the talented Ma Rainey’s performers
June 10, 2017 (updated!)
Following the 2 pm performance-
Performing a Wilson piece requires precise skill and training. A poet, Wilson writes in a lyrical and unique style. Wesley Morris of The New York Times recently commented, “How often do you get to work with this kind of rich, meaty poetry that’s also so particular to a people, which is to say so beautifully black? That, I imagine, is both the joy and the stress of doing Wilson. You want to be worthy of the words.” We’ll sit with the cast to discuss performing Wilson’s work.
THROUGH THE LENS: A discussion with Professor Michelle R. Scott of UMBC
June 17, 2017
Following the 2pm performance-
Professor Scott is an Associate Professor of History and Affiliate faculty member in African Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and the Language, Literacy and Culture program at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She has presented in national and international forums on blues music, black women’s history, and American popular culture. We will sit down with Prof. Scott to discuss the gender dynamics and race/gender power struggle at play in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Join us to learn more about the history behind this powerful story.
1st Stage Gallery
For each production in the 1st Stage season, a corresponding art show adorns the walls. The intimate and eclectic gallery is curated by local artist Deborah Conn and brings the work of some of the most exciting area artists in front of 1st Stage patrons. Enjoy a myriad of artistic styles and mediums while you explore the theater and before/after you take in a show.
In the Gallery
WORKS BY SAARALIISA YLITALO
Empty by Saaraliisa Ylitalo
I have been working in the textile arts for over 40 years. My work has always been a reflection of events, real and physiological, in my life or in the lives of those around me. So in that way my work has been about the natural weather of our lives; between turbulent and calm times. Between hope and despair. Really about our broken places and how we deal with them.
My husband and life partner of 40 years died suddenly October 2015. I could not work in my studio for months. When I began to work I chose to look at the emptiness, the isolation, and the silence left by grief. This exhibit is the result.
During my professional journey, I lived and taught abroad in Costa Rica, Japan, Peru, and South Africa. While in Kyoto for five years, I fell in love with Washi (handmade paper) and studied with a master papermaker. My work since then uses handmade paper and a myriad of fiber and paper techniques. I currently teach at the Art League School in Alexandria and Pyramid Atlantic in Hyattsville and have a studio at DC Studio Arts in Takoma DC. www.saaraliisa.com
Sunday, June 11, 4:30 to 6:30 PM