//“A Soldiers Story” WCBTT
“A Soldiers Story” WCBTT, Our Town Sarasota News Events

“A Soldiers Story” WCBTT

Sarasota News Events:

By Sharon Kunkel

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe continues its 2023-2024 season with the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, “A Soldier’s Play,” which was written by Charles Fuller. WBTT and Goodman Theatre (Chicago, Ill.) resident director Chuck Smith returns to Sarasota to direct. The production runs January 18-February 18, 2024.

The play is set on a U.S. Army base in Louisiana in the segregation-era South of 1944. Two shots ring out and a Black sergeant is murdered. A series of interrogations triggers a gripping barrage of questions about sacrifice, service and identity in America. One persistent investigator must race against his white leadership to unravel the crime before they unravel him.

Originally staged off-Broadway in 1981, the cast included Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington, among others. Washington went on to star in the 1984 film adaptation, “A Soldier’s Story,” directed by Norman Jewison. “A Soldier’s Play” was revived and produced a second time off-Broadway in 2005 before being produced on Broadway in 2020.

Over the years, the play has featured an illustrious roster of Black actors including Taye Diggs, Blair Underwood, David Alan Grier and Kenny Leon. It has won many awards since being written and produced, including a Pulitzer Prize, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, multiple Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and Drama League Awards.

“’A Soldier’s Play’ exposes us to individuals we seldom see on the theatre stage: the African American patriot. During World War II, Black Americans both volunteered and were drafted to serve in all branches of our then-segregated armed forces,” said Smith, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1957-1963. “While most were assigned to various rear support groups, they all longed for – and some did experience – combat on the war’s front lines. While they weren’t always where they wanted to be, they were always where they needed to be. They answered the call!”

Performing in lead roles are Patric Robinson (Sgt. Waters), Darius Autry (Pvt. Peterson), Leon S. Pitts II (Pvt. C.J. Memphis), Jerald Wheat (Pvt. Henson), Eric Van Baars (Capt. Charles Taylor), and Michael Mendez (Capt. Davenport). Other artists in the all-male cast include Brian L. Boyd, Ben Brandt, Peterly Jean-Baptiste, Casey Murphy, Terry Spann, Jacob Smith and Donovan Whitney.

Kevin White is production manager, Jynelly Rosario is production stage manager, Tianna Harris is assistant stage manager, Patrick Russini is sound designer, Michael Pasquini is lighting designer, Kenji Trujillo is costume designer, Roland Black is scenic designer/shop foreman, Alex Pinchin is projection designer, and Annette Breazeale is properties master.

Performances take place in WBTT’s Donelly Theatre (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota). Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $50/adults, $20/students and active military (prices include all applicable ticket fees). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit westcoastblacktheatre.org or call the Box Office at 941-366-1505.

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists, and builds self-esteem in youth of color. Visit westcoastblacktheatre.org for more information.