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Fri, 11.20.1981

The Theatrical Performance ‘A Soldier’s Play’ Debuts

Caesar on stage

On this date in 1981, Charles Fuller's "A Soldier's Play" premiered in NYC. The play is a murder mystery or "courtroom" drama that involves the search for the murderer of Sgt. Vernon Waters, chillingly played by Adolph Caesar on stage and in the film.

The story deals indirectly with the search for the meaning of Sgt. Waters' last words: "They still hate you!" The search for the culprit soon becomes secondary to the analysis of Black roles in white society. Knowing a bit about the history of the NAACP in the 1940s (when the play's story takes place) helps. The NAACP was then led by a man named Walter White, a lite-skinned, blue-eyed, blond-haired Black man who preached the now-discredited view that racial assimilation was the only approach that could assure the acceptance of Blacks in American society.

Soon staged and produced on November 28, 1981, at Theatre Four in New York City by the Negro Ensemble Company under the direction of Douglas Turner Ward, "Soldier's Play," had a lengthy run and won Fuller Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Reference:

Tony Awards.com

Contemporary Black Biography, various volumes
Edited by Shirelle Phelps
Copyright 1999 by Gale Research, Detroit, London
ISBN 0-7876-1275-8

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