Play: Court-Martial at Fort Devens

The play premiered in Chicago, where it was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for best play –and lost to August: Osage County.


Woodie King Jr’s New Federal Theatre, in association with Castillo Theatre, will present Court-Martial at Fort Devens by Jeffrey Sweet at the Castillo Theatre, located at 543 West 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.  The play officially opens on March 18 and closes on April 1.

Based on a true story, Court-Martial at Fort Devens documents the strike of black WACs (Women’s Army Corps) stationed in Massachusetts during World War II. The women joined the Army to be trained as nurses, only to be relegated to cleaning toilets, mopping floors and doing laundry. When they are court-martialed for refusing to follow orders during wartime, they fight a pioneering battle for racial equality in the segregated U.S. military.

“It is important to tell the story about these brave African American women soldiers, especially during Women’s History Month in March,” said King. “These women battled the U.S. government in the courtroom for the right of equal opportunity.  Their story was basically neglected in the major press. Thanks to African American newspapers across the country, the WAC’s court struggle during World War II was told.”

Mary Beth Easley directs a cast that features Alia Shakira Chapman, Evander Duck, Gillian Glasco, Nambi E. Kelley, Frank Mayers, Emma O’Donnell, Bill Tatum, Keona Welch, and Eboni Witcher. Court-Martial at Fort Devens  will have set design by John Scheffler, costume design by Ali Turn, lighting design by Shirley Prendergast, and sound design by Mark Bruckner.

Playwright Jeffrey Sweet’s last show in New York was You Only Shoot the Ones You Love (“entertaining, compelling” — NY Times), a solo effort in which he appeared at the Cherry Lane, SoHo Playhouse and Barrow Street Theatre.  Court-Martial at Fort Devens premiered in Chicago, where it was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for best play –and lost to August: Osage County.  He has written dozens of plays which have appeared in NY and on stages around the country and the world.  His prizes include two playwriting awards from the American Theatre Critics Association.  He serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild.

Director Mary Beth Easley has been directing and teaching Acting in New York City for over twenty years.  Her many credits included the Off-Broadway premiere of Levy Lee Simon’s God, the Crackhouse and the Devil at La MaMa and Same Train at the 2011 National Black Theater Festival. A recipient of a Revson Directing Fellowship, she is currently the Artistic Director for the CUNY – Brooklyn College Department of Theater and assistant professor in their acting program.

Woodie King Jr. is the Founder and Producing Director of New Federal Theatre. Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre has presented over 200 productions in its 40-year history. His directional credits are extensive and include work in film as well as theater.  Mr. King was just inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame for outstanding contribution to the American Theater.
Performances of Court-Martial at Fort Devens will be Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM.  Presented at Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street. Opens March 18

Tickets are $25 and can be ordered through or by phone at 212/941-1234. For more information, please visit or call NFT at 212-353-1176.

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