Audition Announcement: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Director: Laurisa LeSure

The third installment of August Wilson’s Century Cycle. “Ambition and art collide with the business of the blues in this red-hot play filled with music that made the ’20s roar. An American masterpiece, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is set in 1927 Chicago during a recording session at a white-owned studio with the legendary singer—inspired by real-life Mother of the Blues Gertrude “Ma” Rainey.” – LA Times


Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey   Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee, who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry – spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives. MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth.




Monday, January 30 @ 6-8 pm
Tuesday, January 31 @ 6-8 pm

South Bend Civic Theater
403 N. Main Street
South Bend, IN 46601

Some of those who audition on Monday, January 30 will be asked to come to the following nights audition on Tuesday, January 31.


Depending on cast availability and conflicts (we are willing to work with conflicts) rehearsals will take place:

MONDAY-FRIDAY 6:00pm-8:30pm; Rehearsals start Monday, March 20th, with workshops before that date (TBD)


May 6-11


  • Friday, May 12 at 7:30pm
  • Saturday, May 13 at 7:30pm
  • Sunday, May 14 at 2:00pm
  • Thursday, May 18 at 7:30pm
  • Friday, May 19 at 7:30pm
  • Saturday, May 20 at 7:30pm
  • Sunday, May 21 at 2:00pm
  • Friday, May 26 at 7:30pm
  • Saturday, May 27 at 7:30pm
  • Sunday, May 28 at 2:00pm

    What To Prepare

    • August Wilson Audition Workshop:
      Monday, January 16th from 11th
      Century Center, South Bend

    • Script Sides in which actors will be asked to read for the Audition can be viewed by clicking here.


    Additional Information

    • Auditioners only must attend one night of auditions, not both


    *Anyone interested in the female characters should be prepared to sing something a capella (preferably in the genres of jazz/blues/gospel)

    Levee (age: mid-late 30s)

    Levee is a young Black trumpet player in Ma Rainey’s band. A confident, ambitious man, he’s unsatisfied with his role as an accompanying musician.

    Ma Rainey (40-55)
    Ma Rainey was a real-life Black musician famous for singing the blues in the early 20th century. Often hailed as the “Mother of the Blues,” she was an important artist in the genre’s development and popularity. In the play, she is very aware of her own influence and knows how to use it to her advantage.

    Cutler (age: 40-55)

    Cutler is a Black guitar and trombone player in Ma Rainey’s band. He is the group’s unofficial leader, making sure the band plays whatever Ma wants.

    (age: 40-55)
    Toledo is a Black musician in Ma Rainey’s band. A piano player who enjoys speaking philosophically about life and what it’s like to be Black in the United States, Toledo is the only literate member of the band.

    Slow Drag 
    (age: 40-55)
    Slow Drag a Black musician in Ma Rainey’s band. A bass player, he seems slow and unobservant but is actually quite intelligent.

    (age: 40-55)
    Sturdyvant is a white executive in the music industry. Although it’s never explicitly stated in the play, he seems to own the recording label that puts out Ma Rainey’s music. 

    (age: 40-55)
    Irvin is a white executive in the music industry. He works alongside Sturdyvant, though he’s technically Ma Rainey’s manager.

    (age: 18-20)

     Sylvester is Ma’s nephew. Ma brings him to the recording session and announces that he will be performing a spoken-word intro for the song “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” 

    Dussie Mae (age: 20-30) 
    Dussie Mae is a young woman who travels with Ma. Although it’s never explicitly stated in the play, it’s implied that Dussie Mae and Ma are romantically involved.

    Police Officer (age: any)


    Questions? Reach out to the director!