In the Wine Time Essay - Critical Context (Masterplots II: Drama)

Ed Bullins

Critical Context (Comprehensive Guide to Drama)

In the Wine Time is one of numerous plays in which Bullins portrays the lives of African Americans of the northern urban ghetto. The playwright envisioned a cycle of twenty plays—the “Twentieth-Century Cycle”—portraying a number of interrelated black families whose history will stretch from the days of Marcus Garvey in the first half of the century to the “present.”

In the Wine Time was the first cycle play to be finished; Bullins has since written a number of others. In New England Winter (pb. 1969, pr. 1971) is a sequel to In the Wine Time. Bullins bridges the seven-or eight-year gap between the two plays with a conversation between Cliff and his half brother Steve that reveals that Lou left Cliff before he returned from prison because she had a baby by another man. The action of this play centers on a single incident, the robbery of a finance company that is planned primarily by Steve, aided by Cliff and two other friends. Steve masterminds the robbery to get enough money to return to Liz, a girl he loved in his “New England winter.”

The Corner (pr. 1968) recounts events leading up to In the Wine Time. Cliff is the central presence in this play, although he does not appear until the second half. He dominates the other characters and brutalizes Stella, his current lover. The play ends with Cliff revealing to Bummie that he is rejecting his friends and current way of life...

(The entire section is 503 words.)