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Authentic Instruments for Ma Rainey's

by:  Thom Dunn at 03/22/2012


Glenn Turner, Jason Bowen, G. Valmont Thomas, and
Charles Weldon in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 
photo: T. Charles Erickson

Music is a major component of our current production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom — the contrast between the old style of blues and the new, the opportunities it can afford its performers, and the act of performance. An audience member at last night's show asked about the authenticity of the onstage instruments, and Justin Seward, our props assistant, explains:

"We consulted a brass specialist at Rayburn music who to confirm that the instruments we had selected are of the correct vintage. We made the design choice to keep them in decent condition in order to convey that these musicians take pride in their instruments. From the stage they look more pristine than they actually are, when in fact they are slightly tarnished with dings here and there. If they were shined and polished, they would gleam too brightly under the stage lights."

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