Ed Bullins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ed Bullins
Born (1935-07-02) July 2, 1935 (age 83)
Philadelphia, PA, USA
OccupationPlaywright
Literary movementBlack Arts Movement
Notable awardsGuggenheim 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 among the best known playwrights of the Black Arts Movement.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Bullins was born July 2, 1935 in Philadelphia. He was born to Bertha Marie Queen and Edward Bullins, and 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 dropped out of high school and joined the navy. During this period, he won a boxing championship, began to read, returned to Philadelphia, and enrolled in night school. He stayed in Philadelphia until moving to Los Angeles in 1958, leaving behind a wife and children. After completing his G.E.D., Bullins enrolled in Los Angeles City College and began writing short stories for the Citadel, a magazine he started. In 1964, he moved to San Francisco and joined the creative writing program at San Francisco State College, where he started writing plays. Bullins' first play was How Do You Do, immediately followed by Clara's Ole [Old] Man and Dialect Determinism.

Black House and Black Panthers[edit]

After seeing Amiri Baraka's play Dutchman, Bullins felt that Baraka's artistic purpose was similar to his own.[3] He joined Baraka at Black House, the Black Arts Movement's cultural center, along with Sonia Sanchez, Huey Newton, Marvin X, and others. The Black Panthers used Black House as their base in San Francisco, where Bullins served temporarily as their Minister of Culture in producing theater as protest. Black House eventually split into two opposing factions: one group considered art to be a weapon and advocated joining with whites to achieve political ends, while the other group considered art to be 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 new theatrical group in Harlem. The first production the New Lafayette Players performed was a trilogy called The Electronic Nigger and Others. The trilogy earned Bullins a Drama Desk Award for 1968. The trilogy's title was later changed to Ed Bullins Plays for what Bullins called "financial reasons".[4] Bullins worked with the Lafayette Players until 1972, when the group ended due to lack of funding. During these years, ten of Bullins' plays were produced by the Players, including In the Wine Time and Goin' a Buffalo.

1970s-1990s[edit]

After Bullins left the New Lafayette Players, he and his family remained in the Bronx.

Several of his plays were produced at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in the early 1970s. Street Sounds was produced at La MaMa in October 1970[5] and again in February 1971, then toured to Middletown, Connecticut, for a performance at Middletown High School sponsored by Wesleyan University on February 9, 1971.[6] The next Bullins production at La MaMa was a set of four one-acts, called Short Bullins, in February/March 1972. The four works were How Do You Do?, A Minor Scene, Dialect Determinism, and It Has No Choice, and the production featured music by Aaron Bell.[7] These four one-acts, along with another Bullins work called Clara's Ole [Old] Man, toured to Italy alongside Richard Wesley's Black Terror in fall of 1972, with performances in Venice and Milan.[8] Bullins later performed in Wallace Shawn's The Hotel Play at La MaMa in 1981.[9] Clara's Ole [Old] Man was produced again at La MaMa in 1981.[10]

In 1973, he was playwright-in-residence at the American Place Theatre. From 1975-1983, he was on staff at the Public Theater with the New York Shakespeare Festival's Writers' Unit. During these years, Bullins wrote two children's plays, titled I am Lucy Terry and The Mystery of Phillis Wheatley. He also wrote the text for two musicals, titled Sepia Star and Storyville.[1]

Bullins later 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 he is currently a distinguished Artist-in-Residence.

Other work[edit]

In addition to Bullins' playwriting, he wrote short stories and novels, including The Hungered One and The Reluctant Rapist. The Reluctant Rapist features Bullins' alter ego, Steve Benson, who appears in many of Bullins' works.[3]

Criticism[edit]

Many critics praised his early work, but others thought his plays were too violent and negatively depicted African-Americans. One critique of his work questioned whether black writers should challenge revolutionary activity without providing alternative directions and resolutions. Many black critics rallied to defend Bullins, criticizing white critics for using traditional white notions of good drama to evaluate black theatre.[11]

Awards[edit]

Bullins has received numerous awards for his playwriting.[12] He has 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. He received an Obie Award for distinguished playwriting for The Taking of Miss Janie in 1975, which also received a New York Drama Critics Circle Award.[13] Also in 1975, he won the Drama Desk Vernon Rice Award, four Rockefeller Foundation playwriting grants, and two National Endowment for the Arts playwriting grants. In 2012, Bullins received the Theatre Communications Group Visionary Leadership Award.

Selected works[edit]

Anthologies:

  • Five Plays (Goin' a Buffalo; In the Wine Time; A Son, Come Home; The Electronic Nigger; Clara’s Ole [Old] Man). Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969.
  • Four Dynamite Plays (It Bees Dat Way; Death List; The Pig Pen; Night of the Beast). New York: William Morrow and Company, 1972.
  • The Reluctant Rapist. Harper & Row, 1973. ISBN 0-06-010579-8
  • The Theme is Blackness (The Corner and other plays) [Dialect Determinism, The Helper, It Has No Choice, A Minor Scene, Black Commercial #2, The Man Who Dug Fish, The American Flag Ritual, One-Minute Commercial, State Office Bldg. Curse, ]. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1973. ISBN 0-688-05012-3
  • The Hungered One. Akashic Books, 2009. ISBN 978-1-933354-66-8

Individual plays:

  • "Dialect Determinism". Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.[14]
  • "How Do You Do" (1965). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing. Baraka, Amiri and Neal, Larry, eds. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1968.
  • "Goin' a Buffalo" (1966). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in Black Theatre, U.S.A.: Plays By African Americans: The Recent Period, 1935 - Today (1996 revised and expanded edition). Hatch, James V., and Shine, Ted, eds. New York: The Free Press, 1996.
  • "The Helper" (1966). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "It Has No Choice" (1966). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "A Minor Scene" (1966). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "Black Commercial #2" (1967). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "The Corner" (1967). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in Black Drama Anthology. King, Woodie, Jr. and Milner, Ron, eds. New York: New American Library, 1986.
  • "The Electronic Nigger" (1967). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New American Plays (vol. 3). New York: Hill & Wang, 1970.
  • "The Man Who Dug Fish" (1967). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "A Son, Come Home" (1968). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New American Plays (vol. 3). New York: Hill & Wang, 1970.
  • "We Righteous Bombers" (1968). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New Plays From the Black Theatre. Bullins, Ed, ed. New York: Bantam Books, 1969.
  • "The American Flag Ritual" (1969). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "The Gentleman Caller". (1969) Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published 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" (1969). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New Plays From the Black Theatre. Bullins, Ed, ed. New York: Bantam Books, 1969.
  • "One-Minute Commercial" (1969). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "State Office Bldg. Curse" (1969). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "You Gonna Let Me Take You Out Tonight, Baby?" (1969). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in Black Arts: An Anthology of Black Creations. Alhamisi, Ahmed and Wangara, Harun Kofi, eds. Detroit, MI: Black Arts Publications, 1969.
  • "Death List" (1970). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "The Devil Catchers" (1970). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "The Duplex" (1970). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in The Duplex: A Black Love Fable in Four Movements. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1971.
  • "The Pig Pen" (1970). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010).
  • "Malcolm: '71, or, Publishing Blackness" (1971). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "Night of the Beast" (1971). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "The Psychic Pretenders" (1972). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "House Party" (1973). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "I Am Lucy Terry" (1975). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New/Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology. Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed. Aiea, Hawaii: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "The Taking of Miss Janie" (1975). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in Famous American Plays of the 1970s. Hoffman, Ted, ed. New York: Dell Publishing, 1988.
  • "Home Boy" (1976). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "The Mystery of Phillis Wheatley" (1976). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New/Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology. Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed. Aiea, Hawaii: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "Daddy, Or The Prince of Darkness" (1977). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "C'mon Back to Heavenly House" (1978). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "City Preacher" (1984). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New/Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology. Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed. Aiea, Hawaii: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "High John Da Conqueror" (1985). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New/Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology. Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed. Aiea, Hawaii: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "A Sunday Afternoon" (1987). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam" (1990). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010. Also published in New/Lost Plays by Ed Bullins: An Anthology. Walker, Ethel Pitts, ed. Aiea, Hawaii: That New Publishing Company, 1993.
  • "Dr. Geechee and the Blood Junkies" (1996). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "Mtumi X" (1999). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "Boy Times Man" (2000). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "King Aspelta: A Nubian Coronation" (2000). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "A Ten Minute Play" (2001). Alexandria, VA: Alexander Street Press, 2010.
  • "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, 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, volume 38. Edited by Thadious M. Davis and Trudier Harris. Detroit: Gale, 1985. 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. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Street Sounds (1970)". Accessed May 2, 2018.
  6. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Street Sounds (1971)". Accessed May 2, 2018.
  7. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Short Bullins (1972)". Accessed May 2, 2018.
  8. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Five One-Acts by Ed Bullins and Black Terror in Italy (1972)". Accessed May 2, 2018.
  9. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Hotel Play, The (1981)". Accessed May 2, 2018.
  10. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Clara's Ole Man (1981)". Accessed May 2, 2018.
  11. ^ "Ed Bullins criticism". eNotes.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  12. ^ http://www.bridgesweb.com/blacktheatre/bullins.html [1] Archived April 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "New York Obies". VillageVoice.com. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
  14. ^ "Black Drama: Third Edition". Alexander Street. Retrieved 2018-05-01.

External links[edit]