• Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

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Host/Producer Dmae Roberts features the Portland Playhouse production of August Wilson’s play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. We’ll be talking to Portland Playhouse’s Kevin Jones, director,and actors Julianne Johnson and Wendell Wright. Dmae also checks in Mari Watanabe of Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center about their Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival event April 3rd at noon to help  raise funds for disaster relief in Japan.

(Pictured left, Julianne Johnson, photo credit: Aaron Lee )

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by famed African American playwright August Wilson is based on the real life Gertrude Pridgett, better known as Ma Rainey (April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939).

Kevin Jones and Julianne Johnson

Kevin Jones and Julianne Johnson

Wilson’s play takes place in 1927 Chicago, at the beginning of the Black Renaissance.  At a recording studio in the heart of the city a group of musicians and a record producer anxiously await the entrance of legendary blues singer Ma Rainey, known both for her music and her attitude. By the time Ma Rainey does arrive, the tension between the musicians has escalated to a fiery battle of wills. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the third chapter in August Wilson’s ten-play “Century Cycle” that chronicles the lives of African-Americans through the twentieth century.

Gertrude Pridgett known as Ma Rainey.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom runs April 6 – May 1 at the Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St. For more information or to buy tickets, go to the Portland Playhouse website. You can also buy tickets by calling 503-488-5822.

Mari Watanabe

Also in the show, Dmae checks in again with Mari Watanabe of the Oregon Nikkei Center. Since the devastating earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster in Japan, the center has been collaborating with Mercy Corps and other local organizations to provide aid. She’ll also detail more Japan benefits including the Sakura Festival at the Japanese American Historical Plaza (Couch & Naito Parkway) event on April 3rd at noon to 3pm.

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