Bullins, Ed

Bullins, Ed

Bullins, Ed, 1935-2021, American playwright, b. Philadelphia, Pa., as Edward Artie Bullins, Antioch Univ. of San Fransico (B.A., 1989), San Francisco State Univ. (M.F.A., 1994). Bullins served in the Navy (1952-55), and then began writing short fiction. In 1964, he settled in San Francisco, where he became part of a community of Black writers addressing contemporary social issues. His first produced play was How Do You Do? (1965) that was well-received locally and also by others in the Black Arts Movement. He believed Black writers should write for the large Black working class audience, rather than trying to cater to liberal whites. In 1966, Eldridge Cleaver hired him to be artistic director of his newly established Black House, which was a community service center but also home to the political movement, the Black Panthers. Bullins left by the end of the year, not wanting to be limited to writing didactic dramas. He served as resident playwright at New York's New Lafayette Theater (1967-72), where he wrote many of his his best-known works, including In Wine Time (1968) and The Fabulous Miss Marie (1971; Obie Award, best play). His most celebrated play was The Taking of Miss Janie (1975; Obie Award for Distinguished Playwrighting; N.Y. Drama Critics' Circle Best American Play of the Year). In the 1980s, Bullins returned to San Francisco, where he collaborated with poet/playwright Ishmael Reed, among others. Moving to Boston, he taught playwrighting at Northeastern Univ. (1995-2012). Among his awards and honors were a Guggenheim Fellowship (1971), four Rockefeller Foundation, and two N.E.A. grants for playwrighting, and the Theatre Communications Group Visionary Leadership Award (2012).

Bibliography

See his Five Plays (1969), Four Dynamite Plays (1972), The Theme is Blackness (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Bullins, Ed

(1935–  ) writer, playwright; born in Philadelphia. He began writing fiction but turned to the theater to reach a wider public. A leader of the 1960s "black arts" movement, he cofounded Black Arts West in San Francisco. He wrote his first play, Clara's Ole Man, in 1965, and won three Obie Awards in the 1970s. Although not publishing much after the 1980s, he worked on a 20-play historical cycle about African-Americans. He was associated with several theaters in New York City, including the New Lafayette Theater (1968–73), American Place Theater (1973), and the Surviving Theater (1974) and he taught at, among other institutions, City College of San Francisco (1984).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.