You are currently processing an exchange. Remove Code Cancel Order

Jump to:

Before the Play

  • What do you know about the experience of Black Americans who served in the military during WWII? About life on military bases? (For more information, check out “Fighting for Equality: Black Soldiers in the Military” in this guide.)
  • The military is a hierarchical system, in which the soldier of the highest rank in any given situation has decision-making authority. This is the “chain of command” and it runs from the top general down to lower-level officers. Where in your life have you experienced a similar hierarchy? What are the benefits?  What are the potential downsides? How could a leader mitigate the downsides?
  • Some plays unfold chronologically: all of the events happen in sequence. But some jump around in time, employing FLASHBACKS to reveal events in the past. What plays or movies have you seen that use this convention? Why might an author choose to include a flashback?

Back to top

During Intermission

  • Describe how theatrical conventions (lighting design, set design, and the way the director has staged the show) are allowing you to interpret the time and location of the show.
  • During World War II, Black citizens who enlisted or were drafted faced segregation and discrimination within the military and racism – often violent racism – when they left the bases where they were stationed. The arrival of Captain Davenport, a high-ranking Black soldier, upends the balance of power in Fort Neal. What do the Black soldiers expect from Davenport? What do the white soldiers expect from Davenport? How does he surprise the other characters?
  • Playwright Charles Fuller used conventions of a murder mystery in the structure of the plot of A Solider’s Play. Think about how the audience is learning about the details of the crime. Which character’s perspective does the audience share? What does the audience know that the characters do not? What effect does the convention of “solving the crime” have on you as an audience member?

Back to top


  • In 1982, A Soldier’s Play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is awarded to an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life. How did this play deepen your understanding of America? Why is this play important to today?
  • Think about one moment in the show that stands out in your mind. List all the design choices you can recall: lighting, set, sound, costumes. How did these design elements help tell the story of that moment?
  • The decades immediately following WWII were the era of the civil rights movement, and many veterans of the war were active participants in the movement. How might their wartime experiences have influenced what they expected from their country?

Back to top