Fri. Jan 22nd, 2021

AP film by JAKE COYLE Author

NEW YORK (AP) – Like many of those involved in the creation of “Ma Rainey Black Black”, it is not easy for Viola Davis to answer what August Wilson gave the playwright to answer, “Everything.”

Davis’ first stage role was in Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Go”. He made his Broadway debut in “Seven Guitars” and won a Tony for “King Headley II”. After playing the role of Rose on Broadway in Wilson’s “Fans”, she starred in the 2016 film of Daniel Washington, which earned her an Oscar. Most of all, as a drama student, a new light turned on for Davis when he first encountered Wilson – a playwright who stood out among other greats. Arthur Miller. Eugene O’Neill. Shakespeare

“You’re always trying to fit yourself into these roles, trying to have someone else see you in these roles, which is changing in your brain,” says Davis. “As of August, when he came along, I didn’t have to do that. Those roles are a part of my life. It is not a square peg fitting in a round hole. This is something that speaks to me perfectly, I don’t have to fight to incarnate. It still takes huge work and craft, but I don’t feel like I have to change the canvas of what I have. He is our playwright. that our. “

George C., who started streaming on Friday on Netflix. Wolfe’s “Ma Rainey Black Black” is the second film by Vinzen’s plays, seen by Daniel Washington as an ambitious project. Following “Fences” and “Ma Rainey”, he intends to continue Wilson’s famous Century Bicycle, a 10th-series that spans each decade of the 20th century. (‘The 30-set’ The Piano Lesson ‘is on deck with Barry Jenkins directing and John David Washington and Samuel L. Jackson.)

‚ÄúThese films will reach a wider audience. Much more people would know about August Wilson and his work, “says Constanza Romero, Wilson’s widow and executor of her estate.” They speak, unfortunately, to the plight of African Americans today. “

“Ma Renese Black Black Bottom” is unique in the Century Cycle. Set in Chicago in 1927, it was the only one outside of Pittsburgh. All of Wilson’s plays are accompanied by the tragic beauty of the blues, but soaked through “Ma Rainey”. On a sweaty, summer day, a band has gathered at a white-owned recording studio to create a new record with Ma-Reau (Davis). The pioneer “Mother of the Blues”, and an immaculately liberated woman from the South. Rainey was openly bisexual and inferior to pride despite the Jim Crow world around her.

“In my life, I have a tendency to be more timid, more shy, maybe more anxious,” says Davis. “That’s all the things I’m not doing. She’s not someone who feels like she has to be upset for her job. She knows she’s worthy. She knows why she’s worthy. She is monogamous about her sexuality. So when I applied it, I felt like my hips were more bloated. I also felt like I do better in heels as Ma Rainey, as I do as Viola. Run the way.

Despite the title, the play’s central, lead character is Levey (Chadwick Boseman, in his final performance), an aspiring trumpeter who is more up to date on Renee’s music and dreams big of breaking up on his own. Played by Bosman, she is a painfully tragic figure who suffers from the trauma of slavery while grasping for an out-of-the-future future. In this way, he represents the conflicts of 100 years before today.

“The only thing I ever said was: This is Levey’s story. I think the finished product shows that,” says Romero. I believe it’s some August. “

Many of Wilson’s plays were on the table, but Washington turned to his relatively thick temperament (this is largely set in the inside) and the casting appeal of Davis and Bosman. Washington cites its “The Iceman Cometh” director, Broadway veteran George C. Contacted longtime Wilson interpreter Ruben Santiago-Hudson to direct Wolff’s direction and pen the script. Maintaining the rhyme and rhythm of Wilson’s dialogue was paramount.

“Langston Hughes wrote a book called ‘The Way of White Folks’. August Wilson wrote ten plays about the ways of Black people,” says Santiago-Hudson. “This is in response to our wound in our distinctive and authentic behavior We had the methods that the American gave us that makes his work so beautiful and spectacular. It’s always a celebration. I mean a celebration like a festival and not a stop-at-the-floor celebration. I mean: Look what I was doing, and here I am to tell a story.

But by the time “Ma Rainey” was directed with reverence for Wilson, who died in 2005, Wolfe didn’t need a sense of awe to tell the story. For digging for language and characters, he made the two-week rehearsal period a necessity.

“I wanted to erase August Wilson, for lack of a better word, and only his characters were left. So this is Levi talking. It’s Cutler and Slow Drag and Ma Rainey talking,” Wolff says . “When working with actors, I ask a lot of questions. Not because I’m really looking for answers, but rather through the process of talking and challenging presuppositions, I make a question process Provoking that will lead to discovery. “

Two of the most acclaimed performances of the year follow. Both Davis and Bosman are widely expected to win Oscar nominations. For Davis, Ma is not a character she wants to let go of, or stops admiring.

“My favorite line of hers is: ‘Ma listens to her heart. Ma listens to the voice inside her. It’s the only thing that matters to Ma,'” says Davis. “I mean, most people Has to do this for a lifetime. “

The film is dedicated to Bossman, who died in August at the age of 43 from colon cancer. Nobody knew the health of Bossman on this film, shot in Pittsburgh last year. The honor given by him for the performance of what Davis calls “transcent” is carried forward.

“He’s not playing the character of Levey. He’s giving it his full 150%,” says Romero. “I think there’s something about August that brings out the ‘A’ game in everyone. “

Romero likes to call actors, directors, writers and filmmakers who repeatedly return for her husband’s work “Wilsonian Warriors”. He thought Bosman would stay among them. In 2013, he wrote about meeting Wilson and being forever changed from his plays – “to help him find my song”, Bosman wrote, “which came and went by Turner.”

For the so-called Wilsonian warriors still with us – an ever-growing army – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” continues not at any end but in a lifelong journey. Santiago-Hudson, when he was alive, was acted or directed by Wilson’s friends in each of his plays. He is not done yet. “I want to maintain my relationship with this work, with my friend August,” he says, “until I die.”

Follow AP film writer Jake Cuckoo on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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