Skip to Content  |   A to Z Index  |   Kentfield Campus  |   Indian Valley Campus

College of Marin
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Opens This Week at College of Marin
Home New Students - Prospective Students Current Students of College of Marin Colletge of Marin Faculty and Staff About the College of Marin College of Marin Search Engine

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom


By August Wilson
Directed by W. Allen Taylor

September 30 (Pay What You Will Preview) 8 pm;
October 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 8 pm
October 10 and 17 at 2 pm

College of Marin Fine Arts Theatre
Sir Francis Drake at Laurel Ave, Kentfield, CA
Parking During Construction:  The best parking is located in Lot #2 which is on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. immediately across the street from the front of the campus.  Simply park and walk across Sir Francis Drake Blvd., then follow the signs and paths to the Fine Arts Building and the Fine Arts Theatre.  There is limited disabled parking in Lot #4 behind the Fine Arts Building off Laurel Avenue.  There is also limited parking in Lots #16 and 17 off of Laurel Avenue on Friday and Saturday evenings and any time on Sundays.

TICKETS: $20 general/$15 students, seniors, College of Marin Employees

BOX OFFICE: 415-485-9385
Directed by W. Allen Taylor, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning American Playwright August Wilson.  This brilliant and explosive piece explores the complicated world of black musicians striving to make it in 1927 at the height of the classic blues recording era.  
Carol  “Kelly” Thomas will be playing the lead role of Ma Rainey. Thomas is a College of Marin student who enrolled last spring after a 30 year hiatus from school to realize her dream of becoming the first in her family to attend college.
COM History Professor Walter Turner says that Thomas brings extraordinary talent to the role of Ma Rainey.
“Kelly is known in the Marin City community as a world class vocalist and all around wonderful person,” Turner said.
She has performed in To Kill A Mockingbird with the Fairfax Players and in shows with the San Rafael Swim and Racquet Club.  For ten years she sang with the Concerned Citizens of Marin City in shows that were produced to raise funds to give scholarships to high school students so they could go on to college.  


This is the play that initiated Wilson’s famous ten-play cycle which chronicled the African American experience in each decade of the 20th Century.  In this brilliant and explosive piece, Wilson explores the complicated world of black musicians striving to make it in 1927, at the height of the classic blues recording era.  Ma Rainey, “The Mother of the Blues”, arrives at a Chicago recording studio with her band to record her latest songs; but this session produces much, much more.  Don’t miss this riveting masterpiece by one of America’s foremost playwrights!
Born Gertrude Malissa Pridget, Ma Rainey was a very popular blues singer during the early part of the last century who was characterized as “The Mother of the Blues.  She was born in Georgia in 1886, travelled the Minstrel circuit in the South, playing in tent shows and cabarets.  She and her husband, William “Pa” Rainey were billed as “Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues.”  One of the very first women to record the blues, she was a bawdy, flamboyant performer who dressed in long gowns adorned with a gold coin necklace, diamonds and feathers.  Her style was driving and straightforward with a rich full voice.  She often opened her stage show by stepping out of an oversized Victrola cabinet that was placed on the stage.  Her gold teeth would sparkle and she would ignite her audiences until they swayed, groaned, rocked and moaned to her blues.  Some of her most famous recordings are C. C. Rider, Bo Weavil Blues and of course Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Ma Rainey died of a heart attack in Georgia in 1939 at the age of 53.  She was inducted into both the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame (1983) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1991).

For photos or more information about this production, please contact Robin Jackson, Production Technician, 415-485-9555; FAX: 415-454-3194 or e-mail: