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Theodis "Ted" Shine, Jr. Literary Landmark

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Dallas, Texas

Front exterior of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Black and white portrait of Theodis "Ted" Shine, Jr.

Theodis ("Ted") Shine (1931 - 2018), often called “The Dean of Black Texas Playwrights," attended Dallas's first African American high school many years before it became the award-winning, integrated Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. From there he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and studied under Owen Dodson, a leading Black poet and dramaturg. He and classmate Toni Morrison collaborated and performed under Dodson's tutelage, and there his first play, Sho Is Hot in the Cotton Patch, was staged in 1951. After graduation, he studied on a Rockefeller Grant at Cleveland's Karamu House, the country's oldest African American theater. Following U.S. Army Service, Shine earned his M.A. from the University of Iowa, then his doctorate at University of California at Santa Barbara. He taught drama at Dillard University in New Orleans, at Howard, and finally Prairie View A&M University in Texas. Throughout his career as a writer and teacher, Shine was a mentor and inspiration to students and colleagues.

Ted Shine wrote in multiple genres, and over his prolific career he penned around 100 plays, including seven full-length dramas. He wrote more than 65 half-hour scripts for the PBS Our Street series from 1969 to 1973; for another PBS venture, Visions, he wrote Shoes. According to editors of Black Comedy: 9 Plays, his career production credits include Ancestors, Baby Cakes, Hamburgers are Impersonal, Baker's Dream, The Night of Baker's End, Come Back after the Fire, The Woman Who was Tampered with in Youth, Idabel's Fortune, and Herbert the Third. His play Morning, Noon, and Night garnered the Brooks-Hines Award from Howard University. A trio of short plays entitled Contributions was produced by the Negro Ensemble, then staged off-Broadway in 1970 at Tambellini's Gate Theatre, and New York Times critic Clive Barnes noted that, "Ted Shine is a new black playwright with a great eye for a funny situation... In all three plays Mr. Shine's theme is of rapidly changing black attitudes, and the gap between the old and the new black generations... He is an interesting newcomer who writes from the heart with a brash and bitter humor." Editors Sandra Mayo and Elvin Holt of Acting Up and Getting Down: Plays by African American Texans wrote that Shine is noted "for his mastery of the playwright’s craft," and he "consistently delivers realistic, cleverly constructed plots, finely articulated dialog, well-developed characters, as well as insightful comments on the human condition...”

About Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

The building was built in 1922 as the first African American high school in Dallas. In 1955 additional space was added for vocational training when it became a technical high school. Ted Shine was a student years before it became the award-winning, integrated Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (BTWHSPVA). BTWHSPVA is part of the Dallas Independent School District and provides students with in-depth dance, music, theatre, or visual arts coursework, as well as a thorough academic program. It was the first secondary school in the district to be awarded the prestigious National Blue Ribbon Award for Exemplary Education from the U.S. Department of Education. Since 1976 the school has earned the distinction for Exemplary Arts Education from the Rockefeller Foundation, named one of the Top Eight Magnet Schools in the country by the Department of Education, and listed as one of the top five schools in the nation by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. In 2015 the school was honored with the prestigious Texas Medal of Arts award from the Texas Cultural Trust. 

Page last modified: September 2, 2021