thtre finale 08 - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Ma Rainey"The...

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Ma Rainey : “The mother of the Blues” (1886-1939) o Minstrel performer Historical Background o Struggles in North vs. South – Overt vs. Covert o 2 examples of Racism Record company owners Police : Example of outside world racism Story Plot Structure o Climactic – because events lead up to the stabbing o Setting - recording studio (Chicago 1927) o Staging – simple set (DOESN’T CHANGE) 2 Rooms : Practice Room and Recording Room Themes o Identity What should African Americans Do?? Levee – Black identity is jazz Ma Rainey – Blues o Power – Ma Rainey most powerful, then Recording studio then police Levee uses overt power Ma Rainey uses covert power (ex. I’m not going to sing until I get my Coke) o Education Ma Rainey explains that is how they’ll raise their power; he says no I will not become white educated man Relationships o Play dependent on relationships more so than any other aspect of play Characters o Levee – Villain or Tragic hero? Villain : Murderer (kills Toledo); arrogant (audience doesn’t relate to him); Immoral; abuses his band because he only cares about his individual work & wants to only further himself Witnesses mom being raped and his father being killed too. (August Wilson includes this in story as his background) Uses this to show Levee is not a Villain Tragic Hero : He did the same action to Toledo (stabbing) as he did to his mothers rapers o White World
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In wilson’s plays white world is a major character but almost entirely offstage; charged in this play Similarity to Hansberry’s play in setting and Themes & anger boiling under the surface for the black performers Always see white producers above them CHAPTER 15 Avant-garde: Any work of art that is experimental, innovative, or unconventional; Styles of avant-garde: symbolism, expressionism, futurism, Dadaism, surrealism, and absurdism 3 reasons for Avant-garde’s rise: 1.) Reaction to Realism/Naturalism 2.) Reaction to the popularity of film 3.) Reaction to fascism & the World Wars (genocide, etc.) Wacky Fun: Futurism, Dada, & Surrealism Futurism : A twentieth-century “ism” that glorified the power, speed, and excitement of the Industrial Age; Futurists: condensed, erratic theatrical events that piss off the audience (point is to show people that they need to do something about society…barely did any work) Dada : tear apart definitions of “art,” resist attempts to find meaning; “Dadaism”-a movement that was ignited by the atrocities of WWI & gained fame through staged performances designed to demonstrate the meaninglessness of life Surrealism : A genre of theatre that emphasizes the subconscious realities of the character, usually through design, and often includes random sets with dream-
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