Bullins, Ed

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African American playwright Ed Bullins, who began writing plays as a political activist in the mid-1960s and was later the associate director of Harlem's New Lafayette Theatre, helped shape the revolutionary theater of black experience.

"Ed Bullins." Contemporary Authors Online (reproduced in Biography Resource Center). http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (accessed November 2009).

From the guide to the It Bees Dat Way (a Confrontational Ritual) : play, 1969 December 27, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Ed Bullins was born July 2, 1935, in Philadelphia, PA, the son of Edward and Bertha Marie (Queen) Bullins. Although an excellent student, in junior high school he was transferred to an inner city school and joined a gang, but a near-death from a street-fight stabbing altered his outlook. Still unsure of his calling, he worked several jobs and then joined the U.S. Navy (1952-55). After his discharge from the Navy he left Philadelphia for Los Angeles, where he earned his G.E.D. and began to seriously work on his writing. He studied at a number of colleges including Los Angeles City College, San Francisco State College (now University), New York School of Visual Arts, New School Extension, Vista College, and University of California Berkeley Extension.

Bullins began writing plays as a political activist in the mid-1960s; he also served as associate director of Harlem's New Lafayette Theatre and edited the theater magazine, Black Theatre . He and a few other young black activists (including Huey Newton and Bobby Seale) created a militant cultural-political organization called Black House, and when Newton and Seale formed California's Black Panther Party, Bullins served as its Minister of Culture. Bullins' plays, exploring the disillusionment and frustration of ghetto life, were written expressly for and about blacks and he was a militant member of the black arts movement, at one point advocating cultural separatism between races. Although he was outspokenly dismissive of white aesthetic standards ("It doesn't matter whether they appreciate it. It's not for them."), mainstream critics praised his work; in the 1970s Bullins won three Off-Broadway Awards for distinguished playwriting, a Drama Critics Circle Award, and several prestigious Guggenheim and Rockefeller playwriting grants.

He eventually received a B.A. from Antioch University (1989) and an M.F.A. from San Francisco State University (1994). In his forty-year career he has written more than ninety plays, started several theatre companies, and been a founding member of several writing workshops. He has also written under the names Kingsley B. Bass and Kingsley B. Bass, Jr.

From the guide to the Ed Bullins Collection, early 1970s?, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn American Place Theatre Company records, 1953-2010, bulk 1963-2002 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf It Bees Dat Way (a Confrontational Ritual) : play, 1969 December 27 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
creatorOf Ed Bullins Collection, early 1970s? Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn New York Shakespeare Festival records. Series VI: Development Office, 1954-1989 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Alice Childress papers, 1937-1997 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Records, 1964-1982. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Ed Bullins The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
associatedWith American Place Theatre corporateBody
associatedWith Childress, Alice person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Davis, Ossie person
associatedWith New York Shakespeare Festival corporateBody
associatedWith Papp, Joseph person
associatedWith People's Theatre (Cambridge, Mass.). person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Roxbury (Mass.)
Philadelphia (Pa.)
African Americans
Literature--American Fiction
One-act plays, American
Revolutionary literature, American
Black Arts Movement, United States
Dance and theatre
American drama--African American authors--20th century
American literature--African American authors
Radicalism in literature
American drama--20th century
African American dramatists


Birth 19350702


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