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Rousuck's Review: Netflix Films' "Ma Rainey" And "Giving Voice" Celebrate August Wilson

Courtesy Netflix

Midday theater critic J.Wynn Rousuck joins us again today with her reviews of two new films produced and now streaming on Netflix, that spotlight the extraordinary work of the late, two-time Pulitizer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is one of 10 plays August Wilson wrote chronicling the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th Century.  The 1984 work centers on a group of Black musicians in 1920s Chicago who are playing a recording session with the legendary blues singer, Ma Rainey, as they also confront the racial prejudice and economic challenges of their day.  The new Netflix film adaptation, directed by George C. Wolfe, stars Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman, in his last role before he succumbed last year to cancer. 

Credit Courtesy Netflix
A scene from the Netflix documentary GIVING VOICE

The other new Netflix film is called Giving Voice. The documentary by James Stern and Fernando Villena follows a group of high-school student actors who become contestants in the prestigious August Wilson Monologue Competitionsponsored by collaborating theaters across the country, whose prize is an opporunity to perform on Broadway.

J.Wynn Rousuck joins Tom on Skype

J. Wynn Rousuck has been reviewing theater for WYPR's Midday (and previously, Maryland Morning) since 2007. Prior to that, she was the theater critic of The Baltimore Sun, where she reviewed more than 3,000 plays over the course of 23 years. Her feature coverage for The Sun included a comprehensive series chronicling the development of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Hairspray.” Judy got her start at The Cleveland Press and at Cleveland’s fine arts radio station, WCLV. Her broadcasting experience also includes a year as an on-air theater critic for Maryland Public Television.
Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is Midday's senior producer.