Includes adult, mature adult, young adult characters
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom takes place in a Chicago recording studio where Ma Rainey’s band members, Cutler, Toledo, Slow Drag and Levee, wait for her to show up to record their new album. As they wait, the band players banter and tell stories and jokes, but it soon becomes clear that there is an underlying tension between the impulsive young trumpet player, Levee, and the veteran players, Cutler and Toledo. Finally, Ma Rainey shows up with her lover, Dussie Mae, and her nephew, Sylvester, but the recording session is very behind, much to the dismay of her white producers. As tempers rise in the room, the situation between Levee and Cutler continues to heat, driving them to violence. When Levee is fired, he reaches his breaking point and stabs Toledo, killing him, and destroying both of their dreams for the future.