PHOTOS | August Wilson's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The historic reading series, August Wilson's American Century Cycle, opened in The Greene Space on August 26, 2013 with a performance of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom — the first of the playwright's 10 plays that will be recorded in the space over the next five weeks.

"Thirty yeas ago," the series' Artistic Director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, told the audience before the performance, "I walked into the Cort Theatre [on Broadway] and I saw half of Ma Rainey — in those days actors found a way to see [at least] half [of a play]. And from that moment on, I couldn't rest until I became a part of it."

Santiago-Hudson, one of the foremost Wilson interpreters, directed the evening's performance, with original music by Bill Sims Jr. The show featured Ebony Jo-Ann as Ma Rainey, with actors George Morfogen, Tuck Milligan, Charles Weldon, Clarke Peters, Harvy Blanks, Larry Gilliard, Jr., Lucas Caleb Rooney, Joniece Abbot-Pratt and Jonathan Majors. The Greene Space is presenting the plays not in chronological order of the decade-by-decade cycle, but rather in the order in which they premiered


View our slide show of behind-the-scenes and performance photos below:

Matthew Septimus
The Cast of 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'

The actors, directors, executive producer and musicians behind the production.

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Inside the Control Room

The Greene Space production team meeting before showtime.

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The Composer

The production featured original music by Bill Sims, Jr.

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The Backdrop

Putting finishing touches on the stage, designed by Hollis King.

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The Director

Ruben Santiago-Hudson directed the performance. He also serves as the series Artistic Director.

 

Matthew Septimus
Ma Rainey

Ebony Jo-Ann, understudy for both the Broadway debut and its revival, starred as Ma Rainey.

Matthew Septimus
Backstage

Joniece Abbot-Pratt, who played Dussie Mae, before the show.

Matthew Septimus
Going Over Lines

Charles Weldon, prepping before his performance as Cutler.

Matthew Septimus

Larry Gilliard, Jr., who played Levee, in the green room.

Matthew Septimus

Tuck Milligan performed in the role of Irvin.

Matthew Septimus

Jonathan Majors, going over pages for the role of Sylvester.

Matthew Septimus
The Video Team
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In the Green Room

The cast backstage.

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The Executive Producer

"It has been a journey of years to arrive at this night," Executive Producer Indira Etwaroo told the audience before the show. 

Matthew Septimus
The Reading

The cast takes the stage.

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Matthew Septimus

Larry Gilliard, Jr. as Levee

Matthew Septimus

Charles Weldon as Cutler

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Harvy Blanks (left) as Slow Drag, and Clarke Peters as Toledo

Matthew Septimus

Joniece Abbot-Pratt as Dussie Mae

Matthew Septimus

Ebony Jo-Ann as Ma Rainey

Matthew Septimus

Tuck Milligan as Irvin

The Music

Musicians Clark Gayton, Kenny Rampton and Booker King

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George Morfogen as Sturdyvant

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Lucas Caleb Rooney as the policeman

Matthew Septimus

Jonathan Majors as Sylvester

Matthew Septimus

Ebony Jo-Ann as Ma Rainey

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