A Soldier’s Play, which won the Pulitzer Prize in drama in 1982, is a murder mystery in which Charles Fuller examines many social issues and poses provocative questions. The play won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, with a citation for best American play. The screenplay adaptation, A Soldier’s Story (1984), which Fuller wrote, garnered an Academy Award nomination for adapted screenplay.
A play in two acts, A Soldier’s Play examines and evaluates the causes of oppression of African Americans and the obstacles to their advancement. Unlike Fuller’s two other award-winning plays, The Brownsville Raid (1976) and Zooman and the Sign (1979), A Soldier’s Play has no particular, actual historical source. The play very realistically describes, however, the complex social issues that pervade his work: institutional, systemic racism in the U.S. Army during World War II; race relations; black genocide and the search for the meaning and definition of blackness in America; the meaning of democracy and the place of African Americans in it; and what it means to be black in a racially biased society.
Outside a segregated U.S. Army camp in Tynin, Louisiana, during World War II, a tyrannical technical sergeant, Vernon Waters, is murdered. The local brass has succeeded in playing down the murder until a Howard-trained attorney, Captain Davenport, is sent by Washington, D.C., to investigate the...
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