Script Analysis

Script Analysis

Script Analysis

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 


In the script, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, August Wilson has numerous characters with a lot of diverse traits, which results in several conflicts among the personalities. The drama is majorly about supremacy tussles between personalities in the script. The fights that the thespians are aggressive about are associated with the hegemony fights between the producers in charge of the recording studio and the associates of the band. There are several diverse power fights that go on all through the play, and they have an enormous consequence on what eventually happens at last to every character in the play. Each of the conflicts in the script arises as a result of each character’s different point of view of how something should be done.


Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom play takes place in the year 1927 and dramatizes the real-life songster Ma Rainey, well-known as the Mother of the Blues, whose music career spanned from 1899 to 1933. The performance takes place over the course of an afternoon recording session in a Chicago recording studio, whereby Ma Rainey and her band associates are putting tracks for a new album. Tension and temperature arise in the studio as the band members await a trailblazing performer. Ma Rainey, who is at the same time renowned but incapable of boarding a cab since she is black, orders respect from her white owner of the studio and her white agent (Mattson, 2016). She comes late, and her four band associates, Toledo, Slow Drag, Cutler, and Levee, wait for her to reach.

Meanwhile, they keep discussing religion, racial power dynamics, social activism, religion, and art. Levee, who happens to have already written his music, tries to assert his own style and creativity on the band established on a supposed assurance he develops from the studio proprietor that they would record his music. At the time when Ma Rainey fires him, and the exact studio owner draws desire in his music, Levee finishes his fury on his band companions, stabbing and murdering Toledo when he takes over his position.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has a lot of the subjects that go all the way through Wilson’s successive work: the demoralizing impacts of racial discernment, the heartless indifference that the white civilization has conventionally considered black Americans, and the notion that the fundamental to black salvation and self-reliance lies in emerging a sense of history and heritage (O’Callaghan, 2018). The script main and central message is fixed in a statement alleged by Toledo: “Provided that the tinted man looks to white societies to put the crown on what he say” He meant that provided that he focused on the white folks approval, then he would never have found out who he was and what he was about. He’s only going to be near what white people anticipate him to be about. The script finds out the attitudes and values toward music and the life of the definitive blues singer, Ma Rainey. Their financial mistreatment as African American singers in a white managed recording production, in addition to their poorer societal position in the mainstream white beliefs, becomes obvious in the play’s action and dialogue.


O’Callaghan, K. (2018). “The Blues Always Been Here”: African American Music and Black Modernism in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In Essays on Music and Language in Modernist Literature (pp. 257-272). Routledge

Ludlow-Mattson, C. (2016). Blues multivocality in twentieth-century literature and song (Doctoral dissertation, San Francisco State University)