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Tue, 07.02.1935

Ed Bullins, Playwright, and Author born

Ed Bullins

Ed Bullins, a Black playwright, and author, was born on this date in 1935.

Born in Philadelphia, Edward Artie Ed Bullins grew up in a tough part of the city and was almost stabbed to death as a young man.  In 1952, he dropped out of high school and joined the navy.  In 1958, he moved to Los Angeles to attend Los Angeles City College.  Six years later, Bullins settled in San Francisco, where his professional playwriting career began in 1965 with the production of "How Do You Do," "Dialect Determinism (or The Rally)," and "Clara's Ole Man" at the Firehouse Repertory Theatre in San Francisco.

He later became the Resident Playwright and associate director at Robert Macbeth's New Lafayette Theatre in Harlem, New York.  There Bullins headed the Black Theatre Workshop, giving starts to Richard Wesley, Oyam O, Martie Charles, and others.   Bullins also edited Black Theatre Magazine, published by the New Lafayette, and later directed the Writers' Unit Playwrights Workshop for Joseph Papp at the Public Theatre and the Playwrights Workshop at Woodie King's New Federal Theatre in NYC. He also served in the Cherry Lane Theater Mentor Project. Bullins earned his B. A. degree from Antioch College in 1989 and his MFA in playwriting from San Francisco State University.

Some other plays of Bullins include "It Has No Choice" (1966), "In the Wine Time" (1968), "Goin' a Buffalo" (1967), "A Son Come Home," "The Electronic Nigger," and "Clara's Ole Man" (1968, American Place Theatre) which collectively won the Vernon Rice Drama Desk Award, and "The Taking of Miss Janie," for which he received both an Obie Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award (1975).  Bullins has received Guggenheim Fellowships, Rockefeller Foundation playwriting grants, an AUDELCO Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts playwriting grant.

He recently co-produced the World Premiere of "Circles of Time" by Shirley Timmreck at The Last Frontier Playwrights Conference in Valdez, Alaska. He is currently the Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Northeastern University in Boston. In 2012, Bullins received the Theatre Communications Group Visionary Leadership Award.

In addition to Bullins's playwriting, he wrote short stories and novels, including The Hungered One and The Reluctant Rapist. The Reluctant Rapist features Bullins's alter ego, Steve Benson, who appears in many of Bullins's works.  Ed Bullins died aged 86 on November 13, 2021, in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts, due to complications from dementia.

To be a Writer


Ed Bullins: A Literary Biography
by Samuel Hay
Wayne State University Press, 1997.

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