The President of an Empty Room
- By: Nadeeja Koralage
“Before Columbus, smoking tobacco was a form of prayer. Now it is an act of rebellion against what you know to be true…. And if you decide to visit tobacco as a subject, you have to go to Cuba as a setting, because Cuba is itself an act of rebellion against what the world believes to be true.”
Steven Knight, playwright of The President of an Empty Room
Miguel Fernando is a senior cigar roller in a Havana factory, with his friend, Simon. A public address system in the factory means that they listen to either music or love poetry to encourage them to be gentle with the tobacco, as they roll the cigars in a factory where company spirits are all important. Miguel is also a former heroin addict. He turns to drugs again when his girlfriend and coworker, Alexandra-daughter of tobacco taster, Don Jose-leaves for America.