“Fort Huachuca” — A Story Ripe for the Telling

By Ernest Kearney  —  The history of the United States Army installation of Fort Huachuca located in southeast Arizona is a fascinating tale rift with the resonance of this nation’s racial divides. Except for 11 years, from 1892 until 1944, Fort Huachuca housed African American soldiers.

From 1913 to 1933 it was the base for the 10th Cavalry Regiment, an all black troop known by the name given them by the region’s Indians — “Buffalo Soldiers” — who went on to win laurels in the Spanish American War. And at one time the installation was under the command of Colonel Charles Young, the first African American to rise to that rank and position.

During World War II, the camp saw to the training and housing of the largest concentration of African Americans soldiers from the 92nd and 93rd divisions.

Segregation was strictly enforced at Fort Huachuca, with two separate base hospitals: one with a white staff for white service men. The second, an African American hospital was the only such facility in the country operated, entirely, by a “Negro staff.”

“Fort Huachuca,” Writer, Performer Alima Sousa

In July of 1942, the installation saw the arrival of 60 African American Army Nurses to serve in the Fort Huachuca’s hospital.  They were among 479 black women enrolled in the Medical Corps whose numbers hovered over 50,000: Undoubtedly the stories of those nurses striving to overcome the racist attitudes of the day offers great material for a stirring drama.

Unfortunately, there is little to be found in Fort Huachuca by Ailema Sousa playing at the Complex.   The piece suffers from both a lack of focus and centering.  The eight-hundred pound white gorilla on the stage—that of racism—has any potential dramatic potency diluted by the fact that the prejudice encountered by six nurses (Sousa, Natalia Elizabeth, Ashlee Olivia Jones, Resheda D. Terry, Darnell Williams, and Nicole Sousa) all occurs off stage and is spoken of rather than being experienced on stage.

Adding to this is the fact that the only white character is a sympathetic German POW (Benjamin Colbourne) who becomes involved with one of the nurses.

bronze ribbon - Fringe FestivalThe story of their romance (based on a true story) would have served as a strong center for any drama, but is shuffled off to the side; the focal point being given to the interaction of the nurses that, at times, comes across like a slumber party rather than a wartime drama of racial strife.


Badly structured, predictable and amateurish, it takes a BRONZE MEDAL only because, even if poorly told, it is a part of our history that needs telling.


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Fort Huachuca

Is Playing During the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018


The Complex


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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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