Creating Ma Rainey – The Mother of Blues

We all know Ma Rainey as one of the most iconic and earliest professional blues singers in America, also being a part of the first generation of blues signers to record records. This gave her the prestigious title of ‘The Mother of Blues’, and during her career, Ma was inducted into the Blue’s Foundation Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s clear to say Ma Rainey played a huge part in the growth of Blue’s music we know today.

Ma Rainey’s huge impact on the music industry was inspiration for Pulitzer Prize winning August Wilson’s play ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’. The play is set in Chicago in early 1920’s and explores the issues of race, art, religion and the historic exploitation of black recording artists.

Dominic Cooke’s adaption of this iconic play is now on show at the National Theatre with award winning actress Sharon D Clarke taking on the lead role of Ma Rainey. Playing such an iconic character, it is vital Ms Clarke fully embraced the character of Ma Rainey and really bought her back to life. To achieve this, it was important for Sharon to really embody the personality and appearance of Ma Rainey.

Fangs FX worked closely with Sharon to help her best create the character of Ma Rainey by providing her with a set of prosthetic gold teeth so she could not only act like Ma Rainey but also have the appearance of the icon. Given the nature of the play and the lead character, voice is play a huge part in the production. It was therefore prudent for Carol to feel comfortable with her prosthetic teeth. The Fangs FX team worked with Ms Clarke to ensure she adapted well to her new teeth and helped her to fully embrace the role of Ma Rainey.

Dominic Cooke’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ is on show at the Lyttelton Theatre as of the 26th January 2016 and the Fangs FX team hopes everyone will enjoy the performance of Sharon D Clarke’s and her teeth!