Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater presents August Wilson’s MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM for Highmark Blues and Heritage Festival

Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, in cooperation with the August Wilson Center-African American Cultural Center, will produce August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for the first annual Highmark Blues and Heritage Festival.

The play focuses on businesswoman and entertainer Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, known as “The Mother of the Blues,” and one of the most popular blues singer/songwriters of the 1920s.  It is the first of Wilson’s ten-play American Century Cycle, now considered a staple of American theater.

“The Blues is an integral part of August Wilson’s legacy, a legacy we proudly continue through our programming at the August Wilson Center- African American Cultural Center,” said Janis Burley Wilson, August Wilson Center CEO and president. “With a new event like the Highmark Blues and Heritage Festival, it was only right that we take the opportunity to showcase how big of a role the Blues played in Wilson’s life, and what better way to tell that story than through Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company.”

The production, directed by Mark Clayton Southers, will feature Vanessa German as Ma Rainey. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with the August Wilson Center to stage and bring Mr. Wilson’s words to life,” said Southers.  Proceeds from the Saturday September 15, 2pm matinee will benefit Vanessa German’s “Art House” in Homewood.


Vanessa German as Ma Rainey. Photo by Duane Reider.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will be presented September 14 through October 1, 2018 at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, 937 Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District. Performances are 8 pm. on Thursday and Friday; 2pm & 8pm on Saturday and 3pm Sunday.  Tickets are $35, $20 at the door for students with I.D.; with no ticketing fees or surcharges. Tickets are available for purchase at www.pghplaywrights.org.

Support for Ma Rainey is provided by The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments Small Arts Initiative, Regional Asset District, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Richard King Mellon Foundation, August Wilson Center-African American Cultural Center, The Opportunity Fund, and Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Fund.



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