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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Charles Fuller Dies at 83

Fuller was the writer of A Soldier's Play, which was recently revived on Broadway.

Charles Fuller appeared onstage at the American Airlines Theatre for the opening night of A Soldier's Play in 2020.
(© David Gordon)

Playwright Charles Fuller died of natural causes on Monday. He was 83. The death is confirmed by Fuller's wife, Claire Prieto-Fuller, who was at his side in Toronto.

Fuller is best remembered for his drama A Soldier's Play, which won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It tells the story of a Black army lawyer sent to Fort Neal, Louisiana, to investigate the murder of an authoritarian Black sergeant in 1944, at a time when the military was still racially segregated. It was originally produced off-Broadway by Negro Ensemble Company (of which Fuller was a member) with a cast that included Charles Brown, Adolph Caesar, Samuel L. Jackson, and Denzel Washington. It ran for 468 performances.

Fuller's adaptation of his play became the 1984 film A Soldier's Story, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

There were two subsequent off-Broadway revivals (in 1996 and 2005) before A Soldier's Play finally made its Broadway debut in early 2020 with Roundabout Theatre Company, under the direction of Kenny Leon. It won the 2020 Tony Award for Best Revival. TheaterMania's review of that production observes, "[A Soldier's Play] wears its heart on its sleeve to expose some complicated feelings about American identity that people are too afraid to talk about."

The year before A Soldier's Play, Fuller premiered his play Zooman and the Sign with Negro Ensemble Company, which won him a 1981 Obie Award. His other plays include Prince, Sally, Urban Blight, and One Night...

Fuller is survived by his wife, his son, David Ira Fuller, his daughter in law, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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