Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Soldier's Play by Charles Fuller (1982)

Summary:  A black soldier has been found dead just outside of Fort Neal---a segregated army camp in Louisiana (1944).  First, the shooting is blamed on the omnipresent KKK, then on racist white soldiers, before finally on a black officer who hates black men who (to him) perpetuate the stereotype of lazy and uneducated.

Fuller’s character list is a simple list of names, with no description provided noting the age or race of any of these characters.  For me, this made reading the play confusing at times because I was trying to track the race relations without being certain of which characters were white and which were black.  After finishing the play, I feel confident that this was an intentional choice for Fuller.  Clearly, if you were watching the play, this wouldn’t be an issue; but the omission of these details demands a more careful reading of the text…which results in more attention to the nuanced relationships and dialogue of Fuller’s characters.

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