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Is August Wilson the 'Shakespeare of our time'? Cast and crew of 'Ma Rainey' say you can hear it

Is August Wilson the 'Shakespeare of our time'? Cast and crew of 'Ma Rainey' say you can hear it

It’s break time in rehearsals at the Music Center Annex in downtown L.A., and director Phylicia Rashad and actors Lillias White and Keith David exude familial warmth and ebullience as they unpack the musicality of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — not just the blues of singer Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, but the poetry, purpose and lyricism of Wilson’s dialogue.

“I found his language is very musical, but particularly in this play,” said White, who portrays the irascible Rainey. As an actor, “if you stick to what he’s written and stay in the moment, you feel the rhythm and you hear the music in...

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