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Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Bass, George H.

George Houston Bass (1938-1990), professor of Afro-American studies, was born in Nashville on April 23, 1938. He graduated from Fisk University with honors in mathematics in 1959, and pursued graduate study in business at Columbia University. At that time he met Langston Hughes, changed his interest to literature and went on to receive a master of arts degree from New York University’s Film School in 1964. In the years after that he was a free lance writer and director in New York and attended the Yale School of Drama from 1966 to 1968. He was also associate producer and story editor of a series of original plays entitled “On Being Black” produced on WGBH-TV in 1968 and 1969 and aired nationally over the Public Broadcasting System. He was Langston Hughes’s secretary and literary assistant from 1959 to 1964, and became co-executor of Hughes’s estate in 1967. He founded the Langston Hughes Society in 1981 and the next year started The Langston Hughes Review. He was honored by the Yale School of Drama, which performed his plays at George Bass Day in 1967, and received the Harlem Cultural Council award in 1969. His first appointment at Brown was lecturer in the Department of English in 1970. Soon after his arrival he founded Rites and Reason, the research theatre of the Afro-American Studies Program, and became its artistic director. He was named associate professor of English and theatre arts in 1973, associate professor of theatre arts and Afro-American studies in 1976, and was promoted to full professor in 1985. At Brown he taught a playwriting courses and with Rites and Reason produced more than fifty plays, many of which he authored. The object of his plays was to make people “see, enjoy and appreciate how blacks have managed to continue being humane, no matter what comes,” for, as he said, “What I’m concerned with exploring is the significance of black peoples’s presence in this hemisphere. How the experience of black people helps us more clearly understand the way in which people – anywhere and everywhere – might creatively cope with life in all its fullness.” He died suddenly of an apparent heart attack in Providence on September 19, 1990. At the next Commencement the Rites and Reason Theater was named the George Houston Bass Theater.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


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