directly from this website.
Not available in general bookstores.
THE HEMINGWAY PLAY
Hunter did was put all four Hemingways on the stage at once and
let them confront one another
It's a brilliant theatrical
Los Angeles Times
fine script by Frederic Hunter illuminates the enigmatic personal
qualities of this adventurer
It is all done in crackling
dialogue, so clearly defined that there is no mistaking the message
each component of one man brings."
--The Boston Globe
the triumph of 'The Hemingway Play' is the unexpected effectiveness
of its premise. By giving the opposing sides of Hemingway's divided
self an independent existence on stage, author Hunter permits
us to become ringside spectators at the contest between warring
factions of his own personality."
--The Washington Post
a remarkable theatrical study. Mr. Hunter has managed to imbue
his 'aspects' with an unusual depth. One feels grippingly for
each one as they interact, trying to overlook or ignore what truth
each sees in the others."
--The Christian Science Monitor
a brilliantly inventive and totally fascinating piece of writing."
--The Hollywood Reporter
it's less a play about Hemingway than a play about life. It's
a work about young hopes, the pride of early victory, the sting
of mid-life defeat, the despair of the reckoning of old age."
--Women's Wear Daily
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Cast of characters
at 19, returning home from a war
novelist, Hemingway at 28
world personality writer, Hemingway at 55
of the world's best-known men of letters, Hemingway at 60
young woman in her 20s, Papa's secretary
friend of Ernest who lives in Spain
orphan of the rich, early 20s
writer-friend of Hem, slightly older
restaurant owner-manager, a cosmopolitan woman of middle age and
working class background
waiter, a man on the far side of middle age
in Madrid. There are four playing areas: the entry area of the restaurant,
center stage rear; the manager's office two steps above the entry level
with an exterior entrance from the terrace and an interior entrance
from inside the building, stage right; the main terrace of the restaurant
six or eight steps below the entry level, stage left; a lower terrace
area two steps below the main terrace level, center stage forward.
Entry into the restaurant is through an arch leading from a vestibule.
Patrons do not enter directly from the street. Another arch leads to
the restaurant bar.
Off the manager's
office is a small balcony. People standing on this balcony are visible
from the terrace. Vines or wrought-iron decoration make it possible
to climb from the main terrace onto the balcony.
At the downstage
left corner of the main ter-race area is the waiter's station. Beyond
it lies access to the kitchen.
Back to top
A late evening in
July, 10:30 or 11:00 p.m., when Madrid restaurant patrons are still
arriving for dinner.
THE PLAYWRIGHT AND THE PLAY
the beginning of the 21st century it's difficult to recall the impact
Ernest Hemingway had in the middle years of the last century on American
letters and world popular culture-and, maybe most importantly, on our
At a time when few Americans traveled overseas, Hemingway could take you
via his novels and short stories to Paris and Pamplona, to Venice and
East Africa. And those trips involved true tests-or so we thought-of manhood:
bullfighting and running with the bulls, big game hunting in Africa, looking
at war, newspapering as a foreign correspondent, falling in love with
exotic women, Lady Brett Ashley, Maria the Spanish guerrilla maiden or
the Venetian Renata. But the man was not merely an adventurer; he was
an artist. As an artist Hemingway seemed singlehandedly to forge a new
literary style, spare, clean and mesmerizing. He brought off a fusion
of high art and wide popularity, the ultimate expression of which was
the publication in Life magazine of The Old Man and the Sea. In a time
before environmentalism or the women's movement, the Hemingway package
became the stuff of legend.
My imagination was
as seduced by it as the next guy's. At a ramshackle beach house in a long
ago Malibu a friend and I read--could it have been by flashlight?--passage
in A Farewell to Arms that seemed indescribably sexy. We were thirteen.
Later The Sun Also Rises made me yearn to go to Europe. Working in San
Francisco I saw a play about Hemingway's life as drawn from his stories.
It was linear and failed to engage the audience. Still later, serving
as a USIS officer in the Congo, I read The Green Hills of Africa in Bukavu
on the eastern frontier and, shortly after its publication,
A Moveable Feast in remote Coquilhatville in the country's northwest.
To keep from going
bonkers with loneliness in Coq I wrote a play-and began to think like
a playwright. Perhaps it was after reading Feast that I realized a play
with a linear construction would never do justice to Hemingway. By then
we knew that his accidental death, as it had first been reported, was
a suicide. It became clear that the man's life was a web of contradictions.
At some point it struck me that a play about Hemingway's life would need
to show multiple phases of him simultaneously.
I began to write The
Hemingway Play as a newly-married graduate student in African Studies
at UCLA. Several years later-I was by then The Christian Science Monitor's
Africa correspondent, living in Nairobi-my twin brother sent the play
to Arthur Ballet at the University of Minnesota. He in turn got the play
to the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference. It was given a staged reading
there in the summer of 1973. Somewhere along the line I had brief correspondences
with Hadley Mowrer and Agnes von Kurowsky Stanfield who gave me permission
to use their names. Later I sent the play to George Hamlin, whom I had
met several times, at the Loeb Drama Center at Harvard University. The
Loeb staged the play as part of its summer series in 1975. (The cover
photo is from that production, showing Alexander Scourby as Papa, Robert
Gerringer as Ernest, Philip Kerr as Hem and James Maxwell as the youngest
of the quartet.)
Alex Scourby sent
the play to Norman Lloyd with whom he'd been a young actor in New York
thirty years before. Norman was by then producer of the PBS series Hollywood
Television Theater out of KCET in Los Angeles. KCET presented the play
the following spring in a production in which everyone's contribution
enhanced the final result. The reviews quoted on the back cover are in
reaction to that production.
Whatever one wants
to say about television, it reaches an enormous audience. It's been a
matter of continuing surprise-and, of course, delight!-- that thirty-plus
years after the PBS production people who saw the play look me up (ever
easier on the Internet) to ask for a copy of it. So I'm now grateful to
Nebbadoon Press for making the play available to a wider public.
Santa Barbara, California