Lifestyle

African-American Playwright Charles H. Fuller Jr.

Charles Fuller, who turns 81 on March 5, was born March 5, 1939, in Philadelphia.

The African-American playwright is best known for “A Soldier’s Play” (first performed 1981), which won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for drama. He attended Villanova University (1956–58) and La Salle College (1965–67) and served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962. In 1967, he cofounded the Afro-American Arts Theatre in Philadelphia and was co-director from 1967 to 1971.

His play “The Village: A Party” (1968) is a drama of racial tensions among a community of racially-mixed couples. During the 1970s he wrote plays for the Henry Street Settlement theatre in New York and in 1974 the Negro Ensemble Company produced his “In the Deepest Part of Sleep.” He based “The Brownsville Raid” (1976) on an actual incident involving the dishonorable discharge in 1906 of an entire Black U.S. Army regiment for inciting a riot (they were exonerated in 1972).

In “Zooman and the Sign” (1980) Fuller presented a father’s search for the killer of his daughter. “A Soldier’s Play” follows the investigation by a Black army captain of the murder of a Black soldier at a base in Louisiana. Fuller also wrote the screenplay of the critically acclaimed film adaptation, “A Soldier’s Story,” 1984), for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

After “A Soldier’s Play,” Fuller began work on a series of plays devoted to African-American history during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

The We cycle, as it became known, included “Sally” (1988), “Prince” (1988), “Jonquil” (1990) and “Burner’s Frolic” (1990). Continuing to draw inspiration from the military, Fuller later wrote “One Night…” (2013), about a female soldier who was raped by fellow servicemen while stationed in Iraq.

He also penned the children’s book “Snatch: The Adventures of David and Me in Old New York” (2010). Fuller continues to write and recently joined the cast and crew in New York City to celebrate the first time that his Pulitzer Prize-winning play has been produced on Broadway.

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