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).

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

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