Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Presents August Wilson’s MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

CSC_Ma Rainey1

Torie Wiggins as Ma Rainey. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

CSC presents August Wilson’s American Classic that celebrates the Blues and Black History

CINCINNATI (January 19, 2022) – Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is proud to continue bringing August Wilson’s canon to life with this production of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” A part of Wilson’s American Century Cycle, a series of plays chronicling the Black experience throughout the 20th-century, the play focuses on Blues singer Ma Rainey in Chicago in the roaring twenties. This show’s design is generously sponsored by Judge Mark and Sue Ann Painter.

Candice Handy, CSC’s Director of Education, directs this production, which features a cast of 10 ensemble members. The design team features renowned artists, including scenic designer Tony Hardin, who has worked over 150 theatre and opera productions, and multi-award-winning costume designer Daryl Harris. Yemi Oyediran, a local Blues musician and music producer, serves as the production’s music director and composer.

The “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” cast embodies Wilson’s words, immersing themselves in Chicago during the blistering 1927 summer. The production features Torie Wiggins as the titular Ma Rainey, artfully fictionalizing the real-life Blues singer. Torie was last seen at CSC in “Romeo and Juliet” and in August Wilson’s “Fences” at CSC in 2019. The cast also includes resident ensemble members who frequently appear at CSC with Geoffrey Warren Barnes II, who last appeared in “Every Christmas Story Ever Told” and “Romeo and Juliet” and Crystian Wiltshire, who last appeared in “Romeo and Juliet.” Crystian has also recently joined Cincinnati Shakespeare as its new Associate Artistic Director.  CSC also welcomes back “ranney” who has performed at CSC in the 2020 production of “All the Way” and as the featured actor in August Wilson’s “Fences” at CSC in 2019, alongside several of his “Ma Rainey” cast mates.

In celebration of CSC’s production of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” CSC welcomes Dr. Sandra G. Shannon, the leading authority on August Wilson, for a lecture on the play and the contextual framework, including the role of Blues women, the history of the Blues, and the cultural impact today. The open-to-the-public event will be held at the Otto M. Budig Theatre Sunday, February 6 at 7 PM with pay-what-you-can pricing.

At this time, all ticketholders must be masked and show proof of a full COVID vaccination status OR provide a negative COVID test to enter The Otto M. Budig Theater. More details on the exact procedure are shared before each performance.  Learn more at CSC’s Health and Safety page at

Tickets are on sale now. There are discounts available for students, seniors, local residents, and community partners as access to all is important to CSC. Each performance night has a limited number of $14 “Access” tickets in the Upper Gallery.  These can be purchased in advance by going online or calling the Box Office.  And starting 1 hour before each performance, any unreserved tickets may be available as a discounted Rush Ticket to anyone, not just students. These tickets are only $12 and could be located anywhere in the house depending on that evening’s availability. These cannot be reserved more than 1 hour before a show and must be purchased in person in the Box Office.

In the spirit of building community, CSC launches YP Preview Nights, an event that welcomes young professionals to the Wednesday Preview Nights of their mainstage shows and offers the chance for a mid-week break at the theatre with fellow peers. The first YP Preview Night is August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” YP night on January 19. YP Nights are supported by the generosity of the thousands of young professional contributors to the ArtsWave Campaign.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s 2021-2022 Grand Re-Opening Season is generously presented by The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation and the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation; along with our Education Season Sponsor, Debby and Jim Mason Honoring James R. Bridgeland, Jr; and our Operating Support Partners, The Ohio Arts Council, The Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts with Arts Midwest, The Shubert Foundation, Lightborne, and the tens of thousands of people who give generously to the ArtsWave Community Campaign.


August Wilson’s
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
January 21 – February 12, 2022

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is honored to continue August Wilson’s work to life with “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. In this American classic, tensions and temperatures rise at a Chicago music studio in 1927 when fiery, fearless blues singer Ma Rainey joins her band for a fraught recording session. She is a Black woman determined to control her art and her life on her own terms. However, as egos and generational ideologies clash, heated conflicts erupt between everyone present that wrestle with the complexities of racism and artistic exploitation in this Tony Award® nominated powerhouse of a play.


About Cincinnati Shakespeare Company:
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is a professional theatre company dedicated to bringing Shakespeare and the classics to life for all.  In the summer of 2017, the theater relocated to the Otto M. Budig Theater, a brand new facility in OTR. CSC’s repertoire is composed of the works of William Shakespeare, literary adaptations, and contemporary classics.  CSC performs on a Small Professional Theatre contract with the Actors’ Equity Association. Cincinnati Shakespeare is a member of the Theater Communications Group and the Shakespeare Theatre Association.  Each year, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Education and Outreach Programs reach more than 50,000 young people and community members each season by taking Shakespeare into schools, parks, community centers and by hosting educational matinees of mainstage productions.  In 2015, CSC was proud to become one of the first five theaters in the United States to “Complete the Canon” by producing all 38 plays by William Shakespeare. CSC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.  Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is proud to be Cincinnati’s stage for the classics!

Leave a comment

Filed under Press Releases

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.