August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Producing Artistic Director, Brian Isaac Phillips
Directed by Candice Handy*
Slow Drag: Geoffrey Warren Barnes II*
Dussie Mae: Arrianna Chai
Irvin: Jeremy Dubin*
Sylvester: Tyren Duncan
Cutler: Ken Early*
Sturdyvant: Jim Hopkins*
Policeman: Nathan Sullivan
Ma Rainey: Torie Wiggins*
Levee: Crystian Wiltshire*
Scenic Designer: Tony Hardin
Costume Designer: Daryl Harris
Lighting Designer: Jessica Drayton
Sound Designer & Assistant Technical Director: Robert Carlton Stimmel
Intimacy Director: Angelique Archer
Fight Director: Gina Cerimele-Mechley
Music Director/Composer: Yemi Oyediran
Swing: Derek Snow
Swing: Deondra Means
Piano: Erwin Stuckey
Piano: Jackson Steiger
Trombone: Marc Fields
Trumpet: Mike Wade
Bass: Terrell Montgomery
Guitar: Paul Patterson
Production Manager: Kate Bindus
Resident Costume Designer & Stitcher: Rainy Edwards
Technical Director: Chris Holloway
Costume Shop Manager: Abbi Howson
Resident Lighting Designer & Scenic Associate: Justen N. Locke
Carpenter & Scenic Artist: Chase Melendez
Resident Scenic Designer & Charge Artist: Samantha Reno
Resident Stage Manager: Jason Stewart*
Assistant Stage Manager & Production Associate: Cole Sweasy: Cole Sweasy
Properties Supervisor: Kara Eble Trusty
Wardrobe Supervisor: Amanda Winters
Research Dramaturg: Tatiana Godfrey
*Appearing through an Agreement between this theatre, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Torie Wiggins* (she/her) (Ensemble, 6 Seasons) is overjoyed to be back at CSC for another season! Her Cincinnati theatre credits include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Harry and the Thief at Know Theatre of Cincinnati; The Mountaintop, Violet, and His Eye is on The Sparrow at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati; Mame, Crowns and The Revolutionists at Human Race Theatre Co.; To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 by Anna Deveare Smith and Your Negro Tour Guide. Here at CSC, Torie has had the pleasure of performing in To Kill a Mockingbird, Oliver Twist, A Raisin in the Sun, and Fences. Her greatest role is that of a loving wife to her amazing husband, Aaron, who always supports her.
Geoffrey Warren Barnes II* (he/him) (Ensemble, 7 Seasons) is overjoyed to return to CSC for his 7th season. Finally, at last! Credits include The Drunk Santa Xmas Spectacular (video), All the Way, Fences, Macbeth, Twelfth Night with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, After AIDA (joint project with Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and Cincinnati Opera), Hands on a Hardbody (Ronald McCowan) at ETC, and Marian: or the True Tale of Robin Hood at Know Theatre of Cincinnati. Geoffrey holds a BFA in Musical Theater from Webster University in St. Louis and an MFA in acting from the University of Texas at Austin. He is an alumnus of the Cincinnati School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Thank you to his family, friends, and Katie for their love and encouragement. Be well, stay safe, and get vaccinated!
Arrianna Chai (she/her) (Ensemble, 2 Seasons) was excited to be a part of her first mainstage production at CSC as Balthasar in Romeo and Juliet. She is truly grateful to be returning to the stage in this production! Arrianna is also currently in the midst of her second year as a Touring intern with CSC. She spent this past summer performing Shakespeare throughout the tristate area in various parks. She has very much enjoyed working alongside her talented and inspiring castmates. Arrianna sends lots of love back home to her family in New Orleans!
Jeremy Dubin (he/him) (21 Seasons) Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jeremy holds degrees from the University of Evansville and Ohio State University. He has had the privilege of making and teaching theatre in Cincinnati and beyond for over twenty years. Some favorite CSC projects include Much Ado About Nothing (Benedick), Noises Off (Garry), Cyrano de Bergerac (Cyrano), The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes), The Diary of Anne Frank (Director), Titus Andronicus (Director), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Director), and Every Christmas Story Ever Told (Director). Jeremy is also the co-founder of The Puzzle Crawl, a super-nerdy Cincinnati bar crawl for nerds. He would like to thank his family for their unabashed enthusiasm and Kelly for being the greatest.
Tyren Duncan (he/him) (Ensemble, Debut) is excited to act among the CSC family this year. Originally from Houston, he has worked with Peak Creative, Heaven Arts Theatre Company, and recently created an artistic platform for himself and young POC artists called FACES. Last year, Duncan graduated from Texas A&M Corpus Christi with a bachelor's degree in performance art. With many theatrical memories to be thankful for, some of his favorites at CSC are the ones he has shared with his ensemble. Of course, he's most grateful for his wonderful parents, Michelle & Terrance Duncan. With their support and love, he's been able to accomplish a lot of impressive feats.
Ken Early* (he/him) (Ensemble, 5 Seasons) is excited and honored to be cast in his fifth production with CSC. His stage credits with CSC include Macbeth, Guest Who’s Coming to Dinner, Mice of Men and To Kill a Mockingbird. His other regional credits include Pipeline, Red Velvet, The Whipping Man, Dancing Princesses, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland and Grey Gardens all at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Misery, Jitney, To Kill a Mockingbird and Once on this Island all at Playhouse in the Park. Once on this Island at Actors Theatre of Louisville and On Golden Pond at The Human Race Theatre. Ken is a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
Jim Hopkins* (he/him) (Ensemble, 15th Season) is originally from Nebraska and spent many years performing in the Dallas area, but calls Cincinnati home thanks to CSC. Among Jim’s many CSC roles, he has been LBJ in All the Way, Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Mr. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank, Julius Caesar in Julius Caesar, Lennie in Of Mice and Men, Henry IV in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Bolingbroke in Richard II, Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. Other past appearances include The Liar and School for Wives at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Manbeast at The Know Theater, Romeo and Juliet at The Human Race Theatre; Hands on a Hardbody at Ensemble Theatre, and Jerry Springer: The Opera for Playhouse on the Square in Memphis. In 2017, Jim wrote and performed White Privilege for the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Jim holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
“ranney”* (he/him) (Ensemble, 3 Seasons) has five decades in the performing arts as a multi-disciplinarian. Acting credits include Marc (ART. Shakespeare & Company); Troy Maxson (Fences. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company); Sterling (Radio Golf. ASC.); Chutes & Ladders (Water By the Spoonful. Nevada Conservatory Theatre); Hambone (Two Trains Running. ASC.); Boy Willie (The Piano Lesson. Center Theatre Co.); Adriana/Antipholis/others (The Bomb-itty of Errors. American Stage, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Helix in Dublin, Ireland, and Ambassadors Theatre in London’s West End). As a comedian, he has headlined internationally and shared billing with Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, and Paul Mooney. Nine one man shows include And the Horse You Rode In On (Projects Arts Centre, Dublin), Whatever (People’s Improv Theater, New York), Incendiary (The Straz Center, Tampa), and Cufflinks and Jolly Ranchers for Dummies (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland). This year of performance is dedicated to the memory of “ranney”s stepfather, the incomparable Marvin G. Blue. L x n. Explore his work at itsranney.com
Nathan Sullivan (he/him) (Ensemble, Debut) is a recent graduate of Earlham College. His favorite performance credits include Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest, Bradley in Rotten Illusions, and Basil in The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway. Nathan was once a member of Groundlings at the old Race Street Theater He is both grateful and excited for the opportunity to return home and perform with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.
Crystian Wiltshire* (he/him) (Ensemble, 6 Seasons) is excited to bring indoor theatre back to its rightful home in The Otto. Recent credits include The Tempest (Ferdinand), Fences (Cory), and The Winter’s Tale (Florizel) with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company; Kill Move Paradise (Tiny) with Know Theatre of Cincinnati; Ghost (Castle) with StageOne Family Theatre; Dracula (Harker) with Actors Theatre of Louisville. Crystian has also performed in As You Like It (Silvius), Much Ado About Nothing (Claudio), Romeo and Juliet (Romeo), Henry IV Part II (Poins), and Twelfth Night (Fabian) with the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, and In This Corner... Cassius Clay and Hamlet in Kentucky Shakespeare’s co-production with StageOne Family Theatre.
Candice Handy (she/her) (5 Seasons) is the new Director of Education at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, where she has been a Resident Ensemble Member for five seasons. Some of her favorite roles on CSC’s main stage include Fannie Lou Hammer/Coretta Scott King (All the Way), Malcolm (Macbeth), and Bianca (Othello). Ms. Handy is a native of Birmingham, AL. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Sciences from Alabama State University and her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance with a focus on the African American theatre experience from the University of Louisville.
Ms. Handy is a member of the Actors Equity Association and has played on local and regional stages, including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (A Christmas Carol), The Human Race Theatre (The Cake), Theatre at Monmouth (Pirates of Penzance), Island Shakespeare Festival (A Winter’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Know Theatre of Cincinnati (Marian: Or The True Tale of Robin Hood, Cincy Fringe Festivals 2017-20) and Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival (Pericles, The Tempest). Candice thanks God, her family, and friends for their unrelenting support.
Tony Hardin (he/him) (Debut) is happy to make his Cincinnati Shakespeare Company debut designing scenery for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Kentucky, he has taught courses in scenic design, lighting design, projection design, and scene painting. Tony was recently named an SEC Academic Leadership Development Fellow and Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence award. Professor Hardin is currently the Chairperson of the Department of Theatre & Dance in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Kentucky.
Outside of UK, Tony serves on the Board of Directors for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the leading international organization dedicated to innovation and education in the areas of Theatrical Design and Production. Professionally, he has significant experience as a Scenic, Lighting, or Projections designer for over 150 theatre and opera productions in a variety of venues around the country.
Daryl Harris (he/him) (Debut) MFA, Ph.D. is a veteran of theatre throughout North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia and has received multiple awards for his costume designs for The St. Louis Black Repertory Company. The Arts Council’s Druid Award is among the recognitions Daryl has received for Theatre Tuscaloosa (Alabama) and Tuscaloosa Community Dancers productions including Mame, The King & I, and Nutcracker. Canada’s Royal British Columbia Museum has exhibited his costumes. Locally, he received the Cincinnati League of Theatres Award for Outstanding Costumes for Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU’s) production of Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind. Daryl is a Professor in NKU’s School of the Arts Theatre and Dance Program, where he designs, acts, directs, and teaches “Race, Gender and Theatre” courses. He regularly presents costume-related papers at national and international conferences. This is his first collaboration with CSC. Daryl embraces each costume design experience as sustained communion with the Master Creator.
Jessica Ann Drayton (she/her) (Debut) is a professional lighting/projection designer, assistant, and programmer. Every production has a life of its own, and Jessica is happy that her lighting tells each and every unique story. Jessica’s most recent works include designing lights for Raisin in the Sun (WaterTower Theater), Bridges: Sisters of Salem (Flexible Grey Theater), and projections for Viva Diva! (The Dallas Opera). She has recently assisted on Dallas Theater Center productions such as Tiny Beautiful Things, Working The Musical, Something Grimm, and In the Bleak Midwinter. She keeps her work practical, relevant, and creative! Jessica could not continue to pursue her craft without the love and support of her friends and family (especially Jonathan David). Explore more of her work at JessicaAnnDrayton.com
Robert Carlton Stimmel (he/him) (3 Seasons) is thrilled to be returning to Cincinnati Shakespeare Company! He is a Cincinnati area native, hailing from Fairfield, Ohio. After receiving his BA in Theatre at Miami University, Robert has worked with various theatres, including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Alliance Theatre, Short North Stage, and Tantrum Theatre. In addition to his technician and design work, Robert is a performer and producer who always looks to expand his artistic abilities! Robert is the Artistic Director of Impaired Vision Productions, a local theatre organization that produces new works. He would like to thank his wife Kayla for her constant support of his artistic aspirations and her unconditional love.
Angelique Archer (she/her) (2 Seasons) is delighted to be a part of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s grand reopening after a truly unforgettable year. Originally from Miami, Florida, she moved to Cincinnati during the pandemic to be a part of CSC’s 2020-2021 Touring Company and signed on for another year in May. Angelique has loved playing various roles in the touring company ranging from Macbeth to Snug the Joiner, and is excited for the year to come! Regional credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost (Princess of France) with the Great River Shakespeare Festival and As You Like It (Phoebe) with the Saratoga Shakespeare Company. Special thanks to her family for their continued love and support.
Yemi Oyediran is the co-founder of Afrochine, a Cincinnati-based music production and storytelling company. As a local jazz musician, he has had residencies at several local venues, played in countless recording sessions, and worked as a WVXU music correspondent. Translating his passion for music to the screen, Yemi worked on Queen City Kings, a documentary about famed music label King Records. He is also an Ohio Humanities, Peoples Liberty, and Bantz Foundation awardee. Apart from music, Yemi is a professional software engineer and previously taught computer science at Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. He currently serves on the board of Friends of Music Hall and is a committee member of the Percussive Arts Society.
Kate Bindus (she/her) (4 Seasons) is delighted to be returning to CSC as the Production Manager. Having previously served as the Associate Production Manager and Assistant Stage Manager, Kate is ecstatic to serve CSC in her new leadership role. Kate has worked on many shows at CSC, but some of her past favorites include Fences, Macbeth, and Pride & Prejudice. She is very grateful for her wonderful friends, family, and mentors that have supported her throughout her professional journey. Kate is a Cleveland native who enjoys coffee, the outdoors, and crafting in her free time. She looks forward to producing world-class theatre for all here at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company!
Rainy Edwards (she/her) (3 Seasons) is from Llano, Texas, and received her MFA in Costume Design at Florida State University. She has been with the company since 2018. Rainy has had the pleasure of designing many shows here including, The Winter’s Tale, Titus Andronicus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and All The Way, to name a few. Her work has been seen at Utah Shakespeare Festival, The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Triad Stage, and Lexington Children’s Theatre. Rainey is excited to be back and making art with her colleagues and friends. She is forever thankful for the support of Chris and their dog Obi.
Chris Holloway (he/him) (Debut) is excited to become a part of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in his first season as Technical Director. He is also ecstatic to be back to building scenery for live theatre. Before joining Cincy Shakes, Chris was the Assistant Technical Director at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati and a Scenic Carpenter at The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina in Hilton Head, SC. He received his education at the University of South Carolina Aiken.
Abbi Howson (she/her) (9 Seasons) is so grateful to be back in the Costume Shop making more costumes than masks this season! She holds a BFA from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music. Favorite designs of hers in her time at CSC include The Elephant Man (2016), The Tempest (2017), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2018). When she's not at the theater, you can most likely find Abbi on her bike around town in search of craft beer. Thanks to Cam for an incredible last 15 years.
Justen N. Locke (he/him) (5 Seasons) is excited to be returning for his 5th season at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. He has had the great pleasure of working at CSC and collaborating on many great productions such as Macbeth, The Diary of Anne Frank, 1984, Othello, Every Christmas Story Ever Told, The Elephant Man, and most recently, All the Way. Justen is excited to be back and looks forward to seeing all the shows that CSC will produce this season and beyond and collaborating on them with such a fantastic artistic team.
Chase Melendez (he/him) (2 seasons) is very excited to be back with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company this season! When not in the theater, he can often be found in his Camp Washington art studio, focusing on his personal art practice. He received his MFA in Studio Art from DAAP at the University of Cincinnati and his BA in Studio Art from San Diego State University and continues to be involved with a variety of artistic projects throughout the region.
Samantha Reno (1 Season) is happy to be working her first season with her new CSC family! Although from Cincinnati, she has recently returned from Sacramento, California, where she was the resident scenic designer for nine years at B Street Theatre and designed around 80 productions, including A Doll's House, Part 2, Ironbound, and The Forever Question. No stranger to Cincinnati theatre, one may occasionally spy Samantha design work at the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati (Superman the Musical), Northern Kentucky University (Noises Off!), and Town Hall Theatre in Centerville (Mr. Popper's Penguins). Samantha is eternally grateful to her husband and two children for their love, support, and keeping her inner child well-rested!
Jason Stewart* (they/them) (4 Seasons) is excited to play with their CSC family again. They have held multiple positions at CSC, from Stage Management Intern to Properties Manager, and are wildly thankful to make their debut as the Resident Stage Manager. Locally they have also worked with The Human Race Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Some of their CSC favorites include Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Fences. Jason would like to give a special shout-out to their family for all of the love and support.
Cole Sweasy (they/them) (Debut) is thrilled to make their debut at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company as the production assistant and Covid safety manager for Romeo and Juliet! Cole has been a part of stage management teams for many events throughout the last four years, such as anime conventions, pride festivals, and other professional theatres. Cole has BAs in Theatre, Communication Studies, and English, all from Western Kentucky University. They can also make a killer drink on the side since they have managed a bar as well as the stage.
Kara Eble Trusty (she/her) (2 Seasons) is delighted to be returning to make art with CSC for a second season. A Cincinnati native, she saw her first CSC production at 12 and is amazed that she gets to collaborate with some of the same people that inspired her love of theatre and art at a young age. Kara has worked locally with the Know Theatre of Cincinnati, The Carnegie, and the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee. She would like to thank her friends and family, especially her parents Bob and Sue, for their love, support, and encouragement as she continues down this incredible and irrational artistic path.
Amanda Winters (she/her) (3 Seasons) is thrilled to return home to CSC as Wardrobe Supervisor. As a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design and a licensed Cosmetologist, Amanda has had the opportunity to work in many aspects of theatrical costuming. She has had the honor of working at Cirque Du Soleil, Seattle Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Cincinnati Ballet. She would like to send so much love and gratitude to her wonderful husband.
Producing Artistic Director, Brian Isaac Phillips
Brian Isaac Phillips* (he/him) (22 Seasons) has been leading the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company since 2003. During his tenure, Mr. Phillips has guided the organization to artistic and financial success, including the opening of The Otto M. Budig Theater, a $17.5MM world-class facility at the corner of 12th and Elm Streets in OTR, as well as the completion of Shakespeare's 38 play canon, making Cincinnati Shakespeare Company one of the first five theatres in the United States to accomplish this milestone.
Mr. Phillips, originally from Pittsburgh, PA, is a graduate of Morehead State University and has been a resident of Cincinnati for over two decades. In that time he has collaborated with virtually every arts organization in the region. He is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and the Stage Director’s and Choreographer’s Society.
In 2020, Mr. Phillips was awarded the international Shakespeare Theatre Association's prestigious Sidney Berger Award for excellence in artistic direction and was also named as one of Cincinnati Magazine's 300 Most Powerful Business Leaders. Mr. Phillips was nominated in 2019 and 2016 for the SDCF Zelda Fichandler Award for outstanding artistic contribution to our region. Mr. Phillips was recognized by both Mayor John Cranley and Mayor Mark Mallory for service at CSC and to the city of Cincinnati. He was also selected for the 2014 Class of Forty Under Forty and a has been nominated for the Ohio Governors’ Arts Awards. In 2016, Mr. Phillips graduated from Cincinnati USA Chamber’s 39th Class of Leadership Cincinnati and is now happy to serve on one of the steering committees. Also in 2016, Mr. Phillips was selected as a finalist for the Business Courier’s 2016 C-Suite Awards for Chief Executive Officer.
Most recent CSC directing credits include All the Way, The Merry Wives of Windsor, August: Osage County, 1984, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Dracula, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest (Co-Director), The Elephant Man, Antony and Cleopatra, Death of a Salesman, Cyrano de Bergerac, One Man, Two Guvnors, Waiting for Godot, The Birds, and The Great Gatsby.
Brian is the lucky husband of one of the most amazing actors in town and the proud father of Holden and Annabel.
Maddie Regan (she/her) (7 Seasons) has been serving as executive leadership of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company since 2020. Prior to leading the business operations of CSC, Maddie was the Production Manager (2015-2018) and the Director of Operations and Production (2018-2020). During this time, Maddie facilitated the design, commissioning, and grand opening of The Otto M. Budig Theater, a $17.5MM world-class facility in Over the Rhine and the artistic home of the CSC.
Originally from Falls Church, Virginia, Maddie holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with concentrations in Production Technology and Management. Prior to her tenure at CSC, Maddie was the Director of Operations for one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the United States, served as an Associate Producer for an internationally touring musical, and traveled the world as a Production Manager for Royal Caribbean International. Notably, Maddie lived in Papenburg, Germany while the cruise liner Celebrity Reflection was being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard. Maddie oversaw the entertainment systems installation, mounted several mainstage productions, and lived onboard through the vessel’s sea trials and maiden voyage.
Maddie is a 2021 recipient of the Over the Rhine Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Year Made Award, a graduate of Cincinnati USA Region Chamber C-Change Class 15, an elected Precinct Executive in Hamilton County, the inaugural recipient of the Golden Quill Award with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and a regular participant of multiple community organizations in Norwood, Ohio. Maddie regularly serves as a guest lecturer for the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, and Miami University covering a wide variety of topics including production budgeting, business planning, and arts administration.
Some of Maddie’s favorite productions at CSC include The Diary of Anne Frank (2016), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2018), Noises Off (2018), and Fences (2019). Institutionally, Maddie is proud of the long-term goals CSC has established in its Strategic and DEIA plans, the adaptability the team has demonstrated as it has navigated the operational and financial hurdles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the immediate inclusion and trust she has received from the staff and Board as she has assumed her executive leadership role.
Maddie is grateful for the support of her partner, Brian, and the ever-present love of their rescue dogs, Monte and Shiloh.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a drama in August Wilson’s ten-play American Century Cycle. Ma Rainey, the titular character taken from blues history, leaves her band and white producers waiting to record a few of her hit songs. While waiting, her band members reveal personal stories that expose their different views on living while Black in 1920s United States. At great cost, the musicians learn that Ma Rainey’s philosophy is correct, “They don’t care nothing about me… Well, I done learned that, and they gonna treat me like I want to be treated no matter how much it hurt them.”
Playwright August Wilson (Frederick August Kittel) was born on April 27, 1945, to a poor Pittsburg family. Growing up, he garnered a love for reading before translating his passion for words onto the page. With a dedication to self-education, Wilson left school at sixteen to study the philosophies and works of Black writers. And, a writer himself, would visit Pittsburgh cafes and jazz clubs to recite his poetry.
Inspired by the artists and leaders of the Black Power movement, Wilson dedicated himself to Black cultural nationalism. He would join playwright and drama teacher Rob Penny in founding the Black Horizons Theater Company, where he learned the power of drama to engage his community.
Over his 32-year-long career as a playwright, Wilson won two Pulitzer Prizes for his plays Fences and The Piano Lesson. Fences also won a Tony for Best Play. Wilson is best known for his American Century Cycle, also referred to as his Pittsburgh Cycle. The cycle consists of ten plays exploring Black life, each taking place in a different decade of the twentieth century in Pittsburgh (except Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which is set in Chicago). The Pittsburgh Cycle yielded some of Wilson’s most famous plays, including Fences, The Piano Lesson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
In Columbus, Georgia, the “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Gertrude Pridgett), was born April 26, 1886, to Thomas and Ella Pridgett, minstrel performers. A natural talent, she began performing in her early teenage years. As she continued her career, Pridgett met musician Will “Pa” Rainey, whom she married in 1904. She took on her iconic stage name, and the two formed a double act. After their divorce, Ma Rainey continued her music career, rising in fame.
After connecting with the music of a young woman performing in a Missouri venue, Ma Rainey discovered the blues, inspired by the poetic lyrics. By the roaring twenties, the increasing demand for recordings of Black musicians, Bessie Smith, another blues singer, rose in popularity, bringing attention to the genre. During this time, Paramount Records discovered Ma Rainey in 1923, and she signed a recording contract with them. However, Paramount cheaply produced Rainey's music, unlike Bessie Smith's labels, who produced her music with better quality.
Though Ma Rainey’s career declined by the end of the 1920s, interest in her work returned with the blues revival of the 1960s. It garnered interest, inspiring Wilson’s classic play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Today, Ma Rainey, “Mother of the Blues,” is still highly regarded for her legacy as an innovator and steward of American music and Black culture.
The blues extend beyond genre and form with deep roots in history, culture, and community. Though the blues were formally developed in the 20th century, the genre originates from African Americans in the 1860s Deep South, who drew upon spirituals, praise songs, and oral traditions of West Africa brought to America by enslaved peoples. Though initially regional, the blues evolved more during the Great Migration, seeing over one million African Americans migrating to the North to escape the Jim Crow South.
By the 1900s, interest in the genre grew thanks to Black women such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, among other musicians who paved the way. These women innovated the blues, curating its style and translating their stories into music. The creation of the radio, alongside the music industry's growth, saw record labels signing these musicians and garnered interest and Black music. However, as August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom illustrates, Black musicians' music and craft were exploited and gentrified.
The blues is characterized by flattened “blue” notes and syncopation, or a collection of different harmonies played together. Accompanied by these musical qualities, the blues features call and response within the narrative nature of the lyrics, relating to Black history and culture. Blues vocals tell stories, emphasizing emotion and speaking to a greater truth. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom explores the relationship between storytelling and music within the blues. Every song has a story behind it.
“With one ‘we thank you,’ many millions more…”
- The Winter’s Tale, Act I, Scene ii
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company extends thanks to the following individuals and organizations for their generous support. The following gifts were received by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021. Giving Levels are exclusive of Capital Campaign donations. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy. If you see a discrepancy, please accept our sincere apology and contact Elaine Cox at 513-381-2273, ext. 3200.
Thank you to our August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom design sponsors:
Judge Mark and Sue Ann Painter
Dr. H. James Williams and First Lady Carole L. Williams of Mount St. Joseph University
Benevolent and Bold, $25,000+
Mrs. L.L. Browning
Mr. Otto Budig
Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation
Charles H. Dater Foundation
Fifth Third Bank Foundation
John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust
The Limestone Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Patricia and Calvin Linnemann
Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund of the Greenacres Foundation
Debby and Jim Mason, in honor of James R. Bridgeland, Jr.
National Endowment for the Arts in Partnership with Arts Midwest
Ohio Arts Council
P&G Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Robert & Adele Schiff Family Foundation
Don and Linda Tecklenburg
Gallant and Glamorous, $10,000 - $24,999
Sally and Joel Davenport
Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation
Frost Brown Todd LLC
GBBN Architects, Inc.
Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Todd and Tricia James
Martha Holden Jennings Foundation
Travis and Teresa McElroy
Bill and Karen McKim
Sue Ann and Judge Mark Painter
Cass and Glenn Plott
The Thomas J. Emery Memorial
Western & Southern Financial Group
Jay and Jodi Woffington
Avowed and Audacious, $5,000 - $9,999
Clark Schaefer Hackett
Crosset Family Fund
David and Kelley Downing
Susan Esler and Steven Skibo
Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Fund for Cincinnati Shakespeare Company of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Jack J. Smith Charitable Trust
Marcene and Jim Kinney
Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation
Colleen and Mike McSwiggin
Patrick Points and Wijdan Jreisat
William O. Purdy, Jr. Foundation Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Vicky and Rick Reynolds
Rosemary and Mark Schlachter
Mark and Anne Stepaniak
Taft Stettinius and Hollister LLP
Laura and Tayfun Tuzun
The Wohlgemuth Herschede Foundation
George and Nancy Yund
Devoted and Daring, $2,500 – $4,999
1919 Investment Counsel
Jeffrey and Karen Anderson
Mr. Fred Berger
Mr. Scott Bischoff and Teresa Sedlack
Kimberly and Dirk Doebereiner
Gary and Tricia Glass
Kevin and Libby Howard
Steve Kenat and Heidi Jark
Richard I. and Susan J. Lauf Fund
Jean and Charles Lauterbach
Ted and Molly Lucien
Ed and Diane Mohlenhoff
Chris Nare and Lori Rappold
RCL Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
The Ridgeway Foundation
Betty and Steve Robinson
Thomas and Patricia Sullivan
Thompson Hine LLP
Ardent and Astounding, $1,000 - $2,499
Mary and David Adams Charitable Fund
Americana Arts Foundation
Rubin and Charlotte Battino
Mary Ann and Doug Bell
Dava L. Biehl
David and Elaine Billmire
Robert Brackenbury and Linda Parysek
Daniel and Kendra Braun
Dr. Robert Burroughs
Charles Scott Riley III Foundation
Michael and Kathy Clark
Mr. Phillip Clayton
Kathy Collins and Joseph Giglia
Dr. Kristen Copeland and Steve Johns
Marjorie Davis Charitable Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Emily Detmer-Goebel and Scott Goebel
Ellen T. and Dr. Stewart B. Dunsker Designated Fund III of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Joe and Kay Ellis
Fencl Family Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Janice Flanagan and Bob Amott, Jr
The Gumbleton Family Charitable Trust
Laura Leigh Hahn
Mr. Robert Hickey and Mary Jane Watson
Ms. Karlee Hilliard
Ms. Linda Klump
Thomas P. Lee
Pamela Meyers and Gerald Greenberg
Norah and Joe Mock
David and Patricia Papoi
Cyndie and David Park
Rick Pender and Joan Kaup
Mitchell and Karen Rashkin
Maddie Regan and Brian Lloyd
Dee and Tom Stegman
Thornton-Keith Family Charitable Gift Fund
Westheimer Rhodes Family Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
William P. Anderson Foundation
- James Williams and Carole Campbell Williams
Ebullient and Exhilarating, $500 - $999
Anonymous Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Barbara Hall Baxter and H. Douglas Jones
Fred and Kari Boss
Larry and Julie Chandler
Cissell Family Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Tim and Joni Conway Family Fund
Rick and Melissa Eder
Mary Ann Fleischer
Christopher A. Futscher and Lynn M. Schulte
Richard and Barbra Green
Stew and Linda Hall
Children of Lloyd Hartsough, In memory of Lloyd Hartsough
Nancy Helwig and Robert Roesbery
Ms. Emily M Hodges
Dale and Cheri Jenkins
Gail and Eric Kirchner
Dan and Anne Lovell
Dave and Lee MacKenzie
Jeff and Lori Miller Family Fund
Bill and Karen Neyer, In honor of Mark Vella
Dr. Niamh O'Leary
Denise and Doug Peaslee
The Irene and Daniel Randolph DAF of the Cambridge Charitable Foundation
Mr. Louis Ross
Christine and Andrew Schaub
Dr. Catherine Shackson
Dr. Edward B. Silberstein and Jacqueline M. Mack
Mrs. Jan Steinman
Gordon and Mary-Anne Thompson
Rosalie van Nuis
Ms. Jo Ann Wieghaus
Valiant and Voracious, $250 - $499
Jim and Sue Bohache
Doug and Dawn Bruestle Family Fund
Carol C. Cole
Mr. Bradley Corey
Ms. Janet Davidson
Deanna and David Eppers
Mr. Jeffrey Goldman
Beverly Kinney and Edward Cloughessy
Muskingum County Community Foundation
Neda and Bruce Nutley
Maggie and Declan O’Sullivan
Manisha Patel and Michael Curran
Steve Peaslee, In honor of Doug and Denise Peaslee
Alice and Burton Perlman
David M. Piatt Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Paul and Marilyn Porcino
Mary Ann Prokop
Saira Shahani and Rick Warm
Dr. William Spohn and Dr. Margaret Dunn
Judge Lawrence S. and Christena M. Walter
Fred and Jo Anne Warren
Robert and Jean Willis
Nancy Zimmerman, In honor of Rick and Tori Zimmerman
Grand and Gracious, $100 - $249
Katherine A. Barksdale Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis J. Barron, In memory of William Denny Baskett III
Peter and Victoria Beltramo
Matt and Pam Blankenship
David and Madonna Bowman
Chase and Karen Bramwell
Jubilee Brown and Wendel Naumann
John and Peg Bruggeman
Denny and Mindy Burger
Chris and Nancy Christensen
Sara Clark and Nick Rose, In honor of The Moms at Lydia's House
Dr. Thomas Cook
Fred and Rhonda Cooper
Leslie and Leo Dahring
George Davis, In honor of Ron and Georgia Davis, R.I.P.
Judith de Luce
Rose Marie Deibel
Donald and Katherine Durack
Michelle Feld, In memory of Bill Baskett
Cynthia and Dan Fischer
Robert and Mary Fitzpatrick
Fluharty Family Fund
Marcia and Jeff Freyman
Jill and Greg Fritz
Haynes and Maria Goddard
Tom and Sarah Goodwin
Chris and Hayley Guthrie
Fred Haaser, In honor of Diana Haaser
Mindy and Eric Hammer
Dan and Helen Hartsman, In honor of Jeremy Dubin and Kelly Mengelkoch
Heink Charitable Fund
Mike and Janice Hess
Mr. Paul Hill
Ron and Sandy Hitzler
Mr. Thomas Hogan
Elzie Barker and Joe Hornbaker
Jim and Mary Ann Kalla
Kiley Family Trust
Lucy B Kreimer
Pat and Randy Krumm
Bob and Ellie Lamb
Bill and Susan Lange
Owen and CiCi Lee
Dr. Nicole Leisgang
John-Peter and Mary Lund
Fred L. Martens
Meister Family Fund
US Bank Foundation
Denny Kidder and Mark Mikulski
Mary Sue Morrow
Stan and Mary Morton
Robert and Andrea Morwood
Jack and Ruta Mueller
Christine and Jason Mulvin
Kate and Krishna Mungur
Sean and Anne Murphy
Dr. B. Todd Music
Joe and Maude Nagle
Network for Good
Fred and Barbara Norton
Mary Beth Martin and Kenneth Oswald
Tim and Kathy Paulin
Graham and Karen Paxton
Tim and Angie Philpott
Jason and Emily Praeter
Joseph and Crystal Prather
Phil and Susan Price
Kay Puryear, In memory of Joseph B Puryear
Marc and Susan Rauh
Tony Rein, In honor of Harley, Nature's Perfect Dog
Kevin and Jill Schad
Suzanne M. Schindler
Roger and Katharine Schumacher, In memory of Mr. William Baskett
Kathy and Joe Schwab
Jon and Jackie Seymour
Natalie Adler Skarzynski
Carol and Harry Sparks
Kelli and Richard Stein
Bob and Laurie Sternberg
Sarah Tankersley and Geoff Vickers
Valerie Taylor and John Finocharo
Greg Terhune and Bo Wachendorf
Sue and Tom Terwilliger
Steven Turek, In honor of Alan Heitner
Jim and Sandy Uhrig
Mr. Jeremy Vaughan
Anne Venters, In honor of Jeanna Vella and Elaine Cox
Nancy L. Wade
Dave and Shelly Wallace
Hugh and Catherine Walsh
Sandra Weiskittel, In honor of Ken Oswald for his generous contributions to the arts
Bill and Kathy Winters
Don and Helena Wong
Hilary and Tim Young
Ms. Karen Zaugg
Monthly Giving Circle
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company relies on the sustained commitment of a strong community of supporters to fuel CSC’s mission of bringing Shakespeare and the Classics to life for all. We send special thanks to our Monthly Giving Circle for their monthly commitment to support Cincinnati Shakespeare Company now and for seasons to come.
Jon and Katie Clark
Donald and Victoria Daiker
Ms. Janet Davidson
Scott Goebel and Emily Detmer-Goebel
Rob and Ellie Lamb
Additional COVID-19 Relief Funding
Throughout 2020-2021, CSC was the grateful beneficiary in COVID-related relief funds from the following federal, state, and local sources – the direct result of the advocacy of arts supporters like you.
City of Cincinnati
Economic Injury Disaster Loan
Entertainment Venue Grant (State of Ohio)
Hamilton County Commissioners
Ohio Arts Council
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant
The Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund (State of Ohio)
The SBA Paycheck Protection Program