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A Soldier's Play

A Soldier's Play
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Charles Fuller
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 126
Pub. Date: 2011
ISBN-10: 0573640351
ISBN-13: 9780573640353
Cast Size: 13 male (10 black, 3 white)

About the Play:

Winner of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

A Soldier's Play is a full-length drama by Charles Fuller. This thrilling drama follows a detective's time-sensitive investigation into the murder of a black Sergeant on a Louisiana Army base near the end of World War II. More than a detective story, A Soldier's Play is a tough, incisive exploration of racial tensions and ambiguities among blacks and between blacks and whites that gives no easy answers and assigns no simple blame.

A Soldier's Play involves a military murder investigation and the "high-voltage racial tensions" between a white commanding officer and a Black officer sent to uncover the truth. It's set at the U.S. Army's Fort Neal in Louisiana, in 1944, when troops were racially segregated. The company of Black soldiers is under the tyrannical command of the Black Sgt. Vernon C. Waters. Many of them were Negro League baseball players and playing in games is part of their service, in addition to menial labour such as trash collecting and painting the social club that they're not allowed to enter. Sgt. Waters cries out in the night, "They still hate you," then is shot twice and falls dead. Capt. Charles Taylor, the white C.O., has a problem. Was the culprit a member of the Klu Klux Klan, a pair of racist white officers, or one of his own men? Capt. Richard Davenport, a lawyer with a degree from Howard University and one of the few highly ranked Black officers in the entire United States military, is assigned to investigate. Capt. Taylor thinks the killing was racially motivated, but he doesn't believe a Black officer will be able to apprehend and convict a white person in Louisiana. Capt. Davenport perseveres and, as he probes deeper, he finds the Black soldiers are as corrupted with hatred as the white military men. Each one had a motive for the killing. Davenport solves the case and the truth is even more shocking than the murder itself. Portraying the complex history of Black soldiers and white segregationists, A Soldier's Play also explores the effects of racism on Black men and the resulting generational and ideological divisions.

A Soldier's Play premiered in 1981, directed by Douglas Turner Ward for Off Broadway's celebrated Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), at Theatre Four in New York City where it ran for two years and earned unanimous praise. The play won the Pulitzer Prize, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play and three Obie Awards. The NEC re-mounted the play in 2017 and again in 2018. It made its Broadway debut in 2020 and won the Tony Award for best revival of a play.

Cast: 13 male (10 black, 3 white)

What people say:

"After four decades, A Soldier's Play is still urgent in Tony-winning revival.... Fuller ... created such an impressive range of Black and white humanity in A Soldier's Play that the work has lost none of its cogency and sting."Los Angeles Times

"A powerful drama ... skillfully wrought ... one of the most evenhanded, penetrating studies that we have yet seen."The Wall Street Journal

"A work of great resonance and integrity...." — Newsweek

"A relentless investigation into the complex, sometimes cryptic pathology of hate ... A mature and accomplished work – from its inspired opening up of conventional theatrical form to its skillful portraiture of a dozen characters to its remarkable breadth of social and historical vision ... Mr. Fuller's play tirelessly insists on embracing volatile contradictions because that is the way to arrive at the shattering truth." — The New York Times

"A complex and rewarding play [by] a playwright of great sensibility."New York Post

About the Playwright:

Charles Fuller (1939-2022) was an American American playwright and the author of many award-winning dramas for stage and screen. He won the Pulitzer Prize for A Soldier's Play, as well as an Academy Award nomination for his screen adaptation, starring a young Denzel Washington, who had appeared in its first stage incarnation in New York alongside Samuel L Jackson.