Careers + Auditions


Audition for Karamu.





 Directed by Justin Emeka* (SDC)



Seeking Equity and non-Equity fully vaccinated actors for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.



All auditions will be virtual by video submission and callbacks will be in person at Karamu House August 18 & 19.

Please select a monologue or scene from Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom of no more than 2-3 minutes total. Please slate at the beginning of the video (state your name, the role you are auditioning for and what you are performing). If you are unable to obtain a monologue or scene from the show, please submit a monologue or scene (in the style of the show) of your choice no more than 2-3 minutes total. We ask that the camera show as much of the actor’s body as possible to replicate a live theatre audition. The video should be uploaded to YouTube and set to “Unlisted”.



Please email the Unlisted YouTube link in an email along with an attached:

  • Completed audition form
  • Resume
  • Headshot

Record horizontal videos. It's totally okay to use your smartphone to record your audition; however, make sure the video is horizontal.

Email link and attachments to: by Friday August 13, 2021. If selected, you will be notified for a call back by Tuesday August 17. Call backs will take place in person at Karamu House Wednesday and Thursday August 18-19 in the evening.

 Audition forms and instructions for uploading an Unlisted YouTube video: Unlisted YouTube Instructions

 Equity and Non-Equity fully vaccinated actors for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom



It’s 1927 and Ma Rainey, the "Mother of the Blues," is recording new sides of old favorites in a rundown studio in Chicago. Fiery and determined, Ma Rainey fights to retain control over her music, while her cocky trumpet player Levee dreams of making his own name in the business. More than music goes down in August Wilson's riveting portrayal of rage, racism, self-hatred, and exploitation.


  • CUTLER: Guitar and Trombone player in Ma Rainey’s band, Cutler is also the leader of all the other instrumentalists. A loner type in his mid-fifties, he plays his music without embellishment—the same can be said for how he feels about life: he believes in getting things done quickly.
  • MA RAINEY: Based on a real-life Ma Rainey with a career in Blues Music in the 1920’s, Wilson’s character is praised as “Mother of the Blues.” She has the final word in everything regarding the band, making all the decisions. Not one to be disillusioned, Ma Rainey was always aware that her manager and producer were set on simply making money off of her.
  • SLOW DRAG: As the slow-moving, yet talented bass player in Ma’s band, Slow Drag is a professional in his mid-fifties who is focused on his music. His name is the result of an incident in which he slow-danced with women for hours in order to make some money. Critics have referred to the music that Slow Drag plays as being reminiscent of African music.
  • LEVEE: The talented and temperamental trumpet player, Levee is the youngest member of the band, being in his thirties. He is a man who is confident with his appearance, especially when it comes to the expensive shoes he owns. Perhaps it’s because of his age that Levee is also the band member who wants to go off on his own and will begrudgingly play Ma Rainey’s music until he’s got his own band to do with what he pleases. He is frustrated, bitter, and is usually picking a fight with someone in the band. When he was only eight years old, he saw his mother raped by a gang of white men.
  • TOLEDO: Toledo, in addition to being the piano player for Ma Rainey, also acts as the band philosopher. Literate and reflective, he discusses abstract concepts like racial memory and the plight of the black man throughout the play despite his band-mates’ misunderstanding of much of what he says. He believes that style and musicianship are important to a performance. Having been married with children, Toledo lost his family in a divorce.
  • STURDYVANT: Overworked, penny-pinching, and obsessed with making money, he is the white owner of the Southside recording studio where Ma Rainey makes her music. Because he is uncomfortable dealing with black performers, he communicated mainly with Ma Rainey’s white manager, Irvin. Because of these reasons, he represents white exploitation of black music. 
  • IRVIN: Ma Rainey’s white manager, tall, corpulent, and proud of his knowledge of and ability to deal with African Americans. Irvin attempts to keep Ma and Sturdyvant satisfied at the same time but usually fails to satisfy either one.
  • DUSSIE MAE: Ma’s lesbian lover, a young, dark-skinned, sensual black woman, dressed provocatively in a fur jacket and a skin-tight canary-yellow dress.
  • SYLVESTER: Ma’s nephew, a huge, black Arkansas country boy. Dressed uncomfortably in a new suit and coat, Sylvester stutters in almost every sentence he speaks. Ma has brought him to the recording session to do the voice introduction to her song, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
  • POLICEMAN: White man who brings Ma to the recording studio to check her identity after the automobile accident and the fight with the taxi driver.



Rehearsals: Beginning in or around September 7 * Evening rehearsals run from 6:30 PM to 10:00 PM M-TH (Please note there will be rehearsal Friday September 10) * Sundays rehearsals 12:00-5:00 PM Tech week: Saturday October 2-6

Final Preview: Thursday October 7

Opening Night: Friday October 8

Closing Night Sunday October 31

Performances: Thursdays-Saturday @ 7:30pm, Sundays 3:00pm Matinee

Equity and Non-Equity actors, please email your headshot, resume, and video audition to Please note: Housing and travel are not provided.


** There will be two AEA Contracts available for this production**.   All actors receive compensation for their work in our productions. Equity members appear under a GA Tier 2 contract. Non-Equity actors receive a modest stipend.


STAGE MANAGERS are also invited to send up-to-date resumes to Please make note of your union status when submitting.

Phone calls will not be accepted.


Open Call Auditions

Audition Form

Unlisted YouTube Instructions

Work at Karamu.

Interested in joining the Karamu House team? We need creative thinkers who are dedicated to excellence. We are collaborative, innovative, and inclusive, and we are always looking for great people. You’re welcome to submit your resume for consideration at any time.  We offer a competitive salary and benefit package paid time off, and the opportunity to work with our nation’s oldest producing African American theatre and one of Cleveland’s top treasures. Karamu House is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 

There are CURRENT OPENINGS (as of May 12, 2021) for:

No phone calls, please. Submit cover letter, resume and salary requirements via email to


Intern with Karamu.

In partnership with Summer on the Cuyahoga, Karamu offers internships to support its work for qualifying college students during the summer months. Summer on the Cuyahoga (SOTC) is all about exposing the best young talent to the abundance of professional opportunities in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, home to the Cuyahoga River. It’s a unique summer internship program open to students from our eight partner schools: Case Western Reserve, Colgate, Cornell, Denison, Oberlin, Ohio Wesleyan, Smith, and University of Chicago. The program, in total, brings together 50-70 students for an intensive summer immersion program designed to help interns explore the professional, civic & social offerings of the Cleveland area. SOTC offers students challenging internships, community introductions, alumni connections & group housing for the summer.

Join our email list, and you’ll
receive 10% off for our online gift shop.

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