One Night Only at Tropic Cinema: Thursday January 15
Ernest Hemingway Recalls Havana
Through Brian Gordon Sinclair
Exclusive report by Shirrel Rhoades
At first glance you’d think it was Ernest Hemingway up there on that stage, a large bearded man looking out past the audience as if sighting a big marlin from the deck of the Pilar. If you listen, you’ll be convinced it’s him as he shares stories about fishing, writing, women, drinking, and his adventurous life in Havana.
Who else could it be but Papa?
If you’re sitting a few rows back at the Tropic Cinema tonight it will be Brian Gordon Sinclair, a performer who has been described as “the foremost dramatic interpreter of Ernest Hemingway in the world today.”
“Hemingway’s HOT Havana” is a one-man show that captures the humor, excitement, and pathos in the great writer’s life. A champagne reception will be held at 7:30 p.m. with for Brian Gordon Sinclair’s performance starting at 8 p.m.
“HOT Havana” tells stories from the boisterous and bold life of Ernest Hemingway in Havana – including his adventures with pirates, watching baseball, battling with his typewriter, carousing with Ava Gardner, drinking daiquiris at La Floriditia, sinking German U-Boats, and winning the Nobel Prize.
“Ernest Hemingway opened a doorway that allowed me to discover the vibrant love of literature and people that is Cuba,” says Brian Gordon Sinclair. “He lived there for twenty years. His spirit is still there.”
Sinclair should know. He frequently visits Havana and Hemingway’s nearby home called Finca Vigia (“Lookout Farm”). He recently helped organize a children’s baseball team in San Francisco de Paula named after Hemingway’s son, the Gigi All-Stars.
“When I meet the people of Cuba, as a writer and performer of Hemingway, I can feel it. His spirit exists in the people, in their hearts. Now he has moved into legend. In Havana, in Holguin and in Santiago, I have had the pleasure of sharing that legend. I have portrayed Hemingway at the 50th Anniversary of the meeting of Fidel Castro and Ernest Hemingway. They met at an international fishing tournament organized by Hemingway and where Fidel won the trophy for catching the most fish.”
The press asked if he really believed that Fidel had caught the most fish in the 1960 tournament. “I told them that Hemingway had watched closely and that he had a damn fine pair of binoculars. He would never award the silver trophy to anyone who had cheated.”
Brian Gordon Sinclair is internationally known for his six chronological plays that comprise his “Hemingway On Stage: The Road to Freedom” series.
“HOT Havana,” however, is a separate stand-alone show, a series of excerpts from those six original plays. It was first performed in 2005 on the rooftop of Havana’s El Pacifico restaurant. Since then, Sinclair has taken the show around the world, traveling from Tromso, Norway, to Stratford-upon-Avon, sharing his monologue at numerous major literature festivals.
Lorian Hemingway, granddaughter of the great writer, has said Brian Gordon Sinclair’s one-man show “rivals the work of Hal Holbrook in ‘Mark Twain Tonight!’” Others compare him to James Whitmore in “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!”
Sinclair has been praised for having an “uncanny talent for putting himself deeply into the character.” Recently he was appointed an Honorary Papa of the Hemingway Look-Alike Society.
Not surprising, he has won the Sir Tyrone Guthrie Award for Acting at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the Finca Vigia Award of Distinction from Museo Hemingway, and the Canadian Studies Award of Distinction at University of Holguin in Cuba.
On stage he’s portrayed characters ranging from Dutch painter Vincent Van Gough to Irish patriot Patrick Pearse, but it’s his Hemingway monologues that define his talent. The Oak Park Ernest Hemingway Foundation has called his performance “mesmerizing.” And Valerie Hemingway, daughter-in-law and former secretary of Ernest Hemingway, noted, “Indeed, Brian succeeded in capturing, what I would call the spirit and essence of Ernest Hemingway.”
“Hemingway On Stage” is primarily a fund-raising venture, having produced over $50,000 in charitable donations. Recipients have included the Key West Art & Historical Society, the Hemingway Look-alike Society Scholarship Fund and Museo Hemingway in Cuba. And “Hemingway’s HOT Havana” has raised thousands of dollars for Cuban hurricane relief.
Thursday night’s performance goes to support the non-profit Tropic Cinema. A big gesture for a bigger-than-life man.