Eisa Davis’s Pulitzer Prize- nominated play Bulrusher (2006), set in 1955, is a coming-of-age narrative in which the title character, abandoned as a baby and taken in by strangers, navigates a world where she finds herself increasingly outside the mainstream of Boonville, California, the small country town where she was raised.
When a black visitor from Alabama arrives in the town, Bulrusher begins to confront the norms and attitudes that she and those in her town take for granted. Through her encounter with this young black woman from the south, Bulrusher comes into a new sexual and racial consciousness. Eventually, she even learns the identity of her mother and father. Bulrusher undergoes her own kind of psychological, intellectual, and emotional homecoming throughout the play – although she never leaves Boonville.
Through Bulrusher, Davis asks us to consider how we might locate home, its significance in the making of identity, and who constitutes ‘family’ in the first place: those with whom we are reared or those who accept us without condition or pretense.
Bulrusher received its world premiere at Urban Stages/Playwrights’ Preview Productions in New York in March 2006.