SHEPHERDTOWN – Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Fuller will speak about “One Night,” his work examining sexual assault in the military, following Thursday’s performance at the Contemporary American Theater Festival here.
There’s no cost to attend “Addressing Sexual Assault in the Military,” the post-play discussion that follows the 8 p.m. performance at the Frank Center on the campus of Shepherd University.
Fuller, an Army veteran who served from 1959 to 1962, first came to national acclaim with “A Soldier’s Play,” which became an award-winning film, “A Soldier’s Story.”
The 1984 movie starring Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar and Denzel Washington tells the story of a black officer sent to investigate the murder of a black sergeant in Louisiana near the end of World War II.
Fuller’s latest work has been called “an unflinching look at what has happened to women in the Armed Forces when their decision to serve their country exposes them to an unforeseen battle against their fellow soldiers.”
“I didn’t start writing to tell happy, little stories,” Fuller told Sharon J. Anderson, a CATF trustee and professional storyteller who interviewed him for a blog on the festival’s website. “I started writing to make some impact on the world in which I live.
“If you don’t want to say anything about sexual assault, that’s your business, but I want to say something about it. I think it is absolutely and unequivocally wrong.”
It’s an issue that’s been overlooked too long, Fuller said.
“You can’t keep brushing things under the rug and believe they will suddenly disappear,” he recounted to Anderson. “You can’t keep maintaining that all the male soldiers who came home were heroes when last year the estimate of sexual assaults was 26,000.
“We have no right because we are in the military to rape fellow soldiers who just happen to be females. … In the Army I was in, the life of the person next to you was as valuable as your own. You would never do anything to hurt your comrade. Your life depended on him, and in the case of Iraq, those gentlemen’s lives depended on the women they were raping.
On Saturday, the issue will again take center stage as the festival’s free Saturday Lecture Series continues at 4:30 p.m. in Reynolds Hall at 109 N. King St. in Shepherdstown. Miranda Petersen, programs and policy director of the Protect Our Defenders Foundation, is the featured speaker.
Both discussions are part of “Humanities at the Festival,” which offers a number of extras such as workshops, stage readings and other special events. Many of the extras are free to the public thanks to funding from the West Virginia Humanities Council.
Free post-show discussions are also set for tonight following the 8 p.m. performance of “North of Boulevard,” Thursday following 8:30 p.m. performance of “Dead and Breathing” and Friday after the 8:30 p.m. performance of “The Ashes Under Gait City.” The festival, which continues through Aug. 3, also includes “Uncanny Valley.”
“Art at the Festival” is another element of CATF that’s free and open to anyone. Scott Cawood is the featured artist for 2014. His work appears in The Scrap Yard Salon in Room 113 of the Center for Contemporary Arts I at 92 West Campus Drive.
For additional details on the art exhibition or any other elements of the festival, call 800-999-CATF or go online to catf.org/tickets.