Ed Bullins

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Ed Bullins
Born (1935-07-02)July 2, 1935
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Occupation Playwright
Literary movement Black Arts Movement
Notable award(s) Guggenheim Fellowship, Obie Award

Ed Bullins (born July 2, 1935, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an African-American playwright. He was also the Minister of Culture for the Black Panthers.[1] In addition, he has won numerous awards, including the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award and several Obie Awards. He is one of the best known playwrights to come from the Black Arts Movement.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Bullins was born July 2, 1935 in Philadelphia, PA. His parents were Bertha Marie Queen and Edward Bullins. He was raised primarily by his mother. As a child he attended predominantly white schools and became involved with gangs. He attended Franklin High School, where he was stabbed in a gang-related incident. Shortly thereafter, he quit high school and joined the navy. During this period he won a boxing championship and started reading. He returned to Philadelphia and enrolled in night school. He stayed until 1958 when he went to Los Angeles leaving behind a wife and children. After receiving his G.E.D., he enrolled in Los Angeles City College and he began writing short stories for the Citadel, a magazine he created. In 1964, he went to San Francisco and joined the creative writing program at San Francisco State College. This is where he started writing plays. His first play was How do You Do, immediately followed by Clara's Ole Man and Dialect Determinism.

Black House[edit]

After seeing Amiri Baraka's play Dutchman, Bullins felt that Baraka's artistic purpose was similar to his own.[3] As a result, he joined Baraka at "Black House", BAM's cultural center, which included Sonia Sanchez, Huey Newton, poet Marvin X, and others. The Black House strongly believed in the concept of "Protest Theatre". The Black Panthers used Black House as their base in San Francisco, which briefly allowed Bullins to be their Minister of Culture. Eventually, Black House found itself split into two factions. One group considered art to be a weapon and advocated joining with whites to achieve political ends. The other group saw art as a form of cultural nationalism and didn't want to work with whites. Bullins was a part of the latter group.

New Lafayette Players[edit]

Robert Macbeth[who?] read Bullins' plays and asked him to join the New Lafayette Players, a newly formed theatrical group located in Harlem. The first plays they performed were a trilogy called The Electronic Nigger and Others (later changed to Ed Bullins Plays for what the playwright acknowledged were "financial reasons"[4]). The three plays earned Bullins a Drama Desk Award for 1968. Bullins stayed with the Lafayette Players until 1972 when they had to fold due to a lack of funds. During his stay ten of his plays were produced by the Players including In the Wine Time and Goin A Buffalo.

Later career[edit]

After leaving the Lafayette Players, Bullins and his family remained in the Bronx. In 1973 he was an in-residence playwright for the American Place Theatre. From 1975-1983, he was on staff at the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Public Theater Writers' Unit. During that time Bullins wrote two children's plays I am Lucy Terry and The Mystery of Phillis Wheatley. He also wrote books for two musicals: Sepia Star and Storyville.[1] He returned to school and received a bachelor's degree in English and Playwriting from Antioch University in San Francisco. In 1995, he became a professor at Northeastern University, where is currently a distinguished Artist-in-Residence.

Other work[edit]

In addition to Bullins many plays, he also tried his hand at short stories and novels, including The Hungered One and The Reluctant Rapist. The latter features a sort of twin or alter ego of Bullins named Steve Benson, who is featured in many of Bullins' works.[3]

Criticism[edit]

Many critics saw his early works in a favorable light, but many thought they were too violent and depicted African-Americans in a negative way. One issue was whether or not black writers should challenge revolutionary activity without providing alternative directions and resolutions. Several black critics rallied to defend Bullins and attacked white critics for using "white" notions of good drama to evaluate black art.[5]

Awards[edit]

Ed Bullins has received numerous awards for playwriting[6] He received an Obie Award for distinguished playwriting for The Taking of Miss Janie, which also received a New York Drama Critics Circle Award and twice received the Black Arts Alliance Award (for The Fabulous Miss Marie and In the New England Winter). In 1971, Bullins won the Guggenheim Fellowship for playwriting. In 1975, he won the Drama Desk-Vernon Rice Award, an Obie for The Taking of Miss Janie,[7] four Rockefeller Foundation playwriting grants, and two National Endowment for the Arts playwriting grants. He received the 2012 Theatre Communications Group Visionary Leadership Award.

Selected bibliography[edit]

Anthologies

  • Five Plays (includes: Goin’ a Buffalo; In the Wine Time; A Son, Come Home; The Electronic Nigger; Clara’s Ole Man), Bobbs-Merrill (1969)
  • Four Dynamite Plays (includes: It Bees Dat Way; Death List; The Pig Pen; Night of the Beast), New York: W. Morrow (1972)
  • The Hungered One, Akashic Books (2009). ISBN 978-1-933354-66-8
  • The Reluctant Rapist, Harper & Row (1973). ISBN 0-06-010579-8
  • The Theme is Blackness (The Corner and other plays), New York: W. Morrow (1973). ISBN 0-688-05012-3

Individual Plays

  • "Dialect Determinism". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). Published in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "How Do You Do". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1965 Published in Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing, Baraka, Amiri and Neal, Larry, eds, New York: William Morrow, 1968.
  • "Goin' a Buffalo." Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1966 Published in Black Theatre, U.S.A.: Plays By African Americans: The Recent Period, 1935-Today, revised and expanded edition, Hatch, James V., and Shine, Ted, eds, New York: The Free Press, 1996.
  • "The Helper". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1966 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "It Has No Choice." Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1966 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "A Minor Scene." Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1966 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "Black Commercial #2". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1967 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "The Corner". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1967 Also in Black Drama Anthology, King, Woodie, Jr. and Milner, Ron, eds., New York: New American Library, 1986.
  • "The Electronic Nigger". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1967 Also in New American Plays, vol. 3, Hill & Wang, New York, NY, 1970.
  • "The Man Who Dug Fish". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1967 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "A Son, Come Home". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1968 Also in New American Plays, vol. 3, New York: Hill & Wang, 1970.
  • "We Righteous Bombers". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1968 Also in New Plays From the Black Theatre, Bullins, Ed, ed., New York: Bantam Books, 1969.
  • "The American Flag Ritual". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1969 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "The Gentleman Caller". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1969 Also in Contemporary Black Drama: From A Raisin In the Sun to No Place To Be Somebody, Oliver, Clinton F. and Sills, Stephanie, eds, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.
  • "In New England Winter". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1969 Also in New Plays From the Black Theatre, Bullins, Ed, ed., New York: Bantam Books, 1969.
  • "One-Minute Commercial". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1969 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "State Office Bldg. Curse". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1969 Also in The Theme Is Blackness: The Corner and Other Plays, New York: Morrow, 1973.
  • "You Gonna Let Me Take You Out Tonight, Baby?. Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1969 Also in Black Arts: An Anthology of Black Creations, Alhamisi, Ahmed and Wangara, Harun Kofi, eds, Detroit, MI: Black Arts Publications, 1969.
  • "Death List". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1970 Also in Four Dynamite Plays, New York: Morrow, 1972.
  • "The Devil Catchers". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1970
  • "The Duplex". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1970 Also in The Duplex: A Black Love Fable in Four Movements, New York: William Morrow, 1971.
  • "The Pig Pen". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1970 Also in Four Dynamite Plays, New York: Morrow, 1972.
  • "Malcolm: '71, or, Publishing Blackness". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1971
  • "Night of the Beast". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1971 Also in Four Dynamite Plays, New York: Morrow, 1972.
  • "The Psychic Pretenders". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1972
  • "House Party". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1973
  • "I Am Lucy Terry". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1975 Also in New / Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology, Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed., Aiea, HI: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "The Taking of Miss Janie". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1975 Also in Famous American Plays of the 1970s, Hoffman, Ted, ed., New York: Dell, 1988.
  • "Home Boy". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1976
  • "The Mystery of Phillis Wheatley". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1976 Also in New / Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology, Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed., Aiea, HI: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "Daddy, Or The Prince of Darkness". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1977
  • "Sepia Star". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010).
  • "C'mon Back to Heavenly House". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1978
  • "City Preacher". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1984 Also in New / Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology, Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed., Aiea, HI: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "High John Da Conqueror". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1985 Also in New / Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology, Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed., Aiea, HI: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "A Sunday Afternoon". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1987
  • "Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1990 Also in New / Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology, Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed., Aiea, HI: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "Dr. Geechee and the Blood Junkies". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1996
  • "Mtumi X". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 1999
  • "Boy Times Man". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 2000
  • "King Aspelta: A Nubian Coronation". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 2000
  • "A Ten Minute Play". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010). © Ed Bullins, 2001
  • "Blacklist". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010).
  • "The Doorway". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010).
  • "Snickers". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010).
  • "Spaces". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010).
  • "That Day". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press (2010).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bullins, Ed (1935- ) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". The Black Past. 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  2. ^ "Ed Bullins: Ed Bullins, University of Michigan Press". Press.umich.edu. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  3. ^ a b Sanders, Leslie. "Ed Bullins (1935- )." Afro-American Writers After 1955: Dramatist and Prose Writers. Ed. Thadious M. Davis and Trudier Harris. Vol. 38. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985. 38 vols. 43-61.
  4. ^ Bailey, Peter (September 1968). "The Electronic Nigger: Controversy Over Play's Title Fails to Cloud Author's Acclaim". Ebony (Johnson Publishing) 23 (11): 97. ISSN 0012-9011. 
  5. ^ "Ed Bullins Criticism". Enotes.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "New York Obies Theater Awards". Villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 

External links[edit]