CAPA Statement Re Performance of “Stories for Hemingway’s Havana”
Sister and Brother Activists: We felt the need to issue a political statement about the performance of the play about Hemingway—Stories for Hemingway’s Havana–which CAPA hosted on July 7 2007. The play was put on as a CAPA benefit, courtesy of the playwright and actor Brian Gordon Sinclair. The reason why we agreed to Brian’s kind offer to do this performance free of charge to CAPA as well as the audience was that the play covers the final years of Hemingway’s life, including his being electroshocked—a psychiatric atrocity which deprived him of his ability to write and led to his suicide. Unfortunately, while a couple of the men read the script ahead of time, none of the women in CAPA did, and at least one of us surely should have. Moreover, the macho which dominated the performance seemed nowhere near so blatant in the script. Now the acting and the writing were brilliant—for indeed, Brian is a talented artist. And the performance captured the personality of the very macho Hemingway to a “t”. Herein, however, lay the problem. While of course, there is nothing wrong with a play about a macho man and while no one should be electroshocked whether macho or not, no frame existed which suggested that this over the top macho man was not simply loveable. Moreover, the bit on the electroshock was so short that it did little to mitigate the problem.
We regret any offence. And we are sorry that we did not proceed more cautiously. Measures that we have taken to ensure that such a problem does not occur in the future is including as part of our process a rigorous and specifically feminist read for problems before agreeing to any performance or release of material. Naturally, we will also be reading with reference to other oppressions. Our apologies to anyone who attended and was uncomfortable, as indeed, many of us at CAPA were.
This was our first venture into theatre which we did not pen or perform in. And we all take it as a lesson.
The Executive of Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault