Denzel Washington-produced ‘Ma Rainey’ seeks to shoot at Deer Lakes Park |
Valley News Dispatch

Denzel Washington-produced ‘Ma Rainey’ seeks to shoot at Deer Lakes Park

Paul Guggenheimer
Denzel Washington greets attendees at the groundblessing of the August Wilson House in Pittsburgh’s Historic Hill District on Sept. 26, 2018.

Oscar and Tony winning actor Denzel Washington plans to shoot scenes for his televised version of the August Wilson play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in and around Deer Lakes Park.

Washington, 64, is producing the television adaptation for Netflix, and it is in preproduction, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Allegheny County Council on Tuesday will consider an ordinance granting permission to Netflix to film scenes for the motion picture in the park and other county locations.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is one of Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle that dramatizes the 20th century African American experience. The play is set in Chicago in the 1920s and is the only one of the group not set in Pittsburgh.

The play tells the story of black recording artists, including real life jazz singer Ma Rainey, who are exploited by white producers. Rainey was born Gertrude Pridgett and was billed as the “Mother of the Blues.” The title of the play is from a song of the same name by Ma Rainey that refers to the Black Bottom Dance.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” became a Broadway hit after opening in October 1984 at the Cort Theatre in New York. In 1985, it received three Tony Award nominations and has long been a staple for local production companies like Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre.

Other Wilson plays that have been adapted for movies and television include “Fences,” which was filmed in Pittsburgh in 2016, and “The Piano Lesson,” which was a “Hallmark Hall of Fame” production for CBS in 1995.

Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].

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