Christopher Columbus: The Shame in the Glory

by  Hank Fincken: A National Theatre Company of One

Program image

Contrary to popular contemporary belief, Christopher Columbus was
neither a hero nor a villain.  He was a
product of his time just as you and I are products of our time.  Whether you like him or not, his voyages
remain the most important of human history. 
He made Pangea whole again.  Hank’s
research included two trips to Spain and two to the Dominican Republic.  He interviewed college professors who see
Columbus very differently than how he is portrayed in western textbooks.  Hank’s goal is not to blame or justify the
Admiral’s work.  Instead, Hank hopes to
provide closure to an event that has led to five hundred years of


Hank has recently added a 45-minute version that focuses mostly on
the first voyage and its consequences, more appropriate for grade levels 3-5.

Mr. Fincken's goal is never to condemn the past but rather to understand it.  Hank shares some slides of his research and then becomes Columbus who is talking to the Spanish Royal Court after his first voyage.  Props include a map of the world as Columbus would have envisioned it.  Participants will have several opportunities to talk to the successful Columbus and to Mr. Fincken about the voyages and legacy of Columbus.

Mr. Fincken is fluent in Spanish and offers his programs in both Spanish and English. Programs in Spanish should be arranged by contacting Mr. Fincken first.

Ms. Mary Arnold, fifth grade teacher from Joplin MO says: "Absolutely an awesome program for students who study American History." See Mr. Fincken's website, www.hankfincken.com, for more endorsements.

Program Rating

   based on 32 evaluation(s).
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About This Program


By Request: $250.00

Schedule this program before 6/30/2018 and receive a $25 discount.


For 4th-5th grades, 45 min. 6-12th grades 1 hour

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Adult LearnersPublic Library: Library Patrons Retirement Communities

Minimum participants:

No Minimum

Maximum participants:

There is no maximum, but for optimum interactivity, we suggest no more than 50 students.

Primary Disciplines

Foreign/World Languages, Gifted & Talented, Language Arts/English, Literacy, Performing Arts, Problem Solving, Sciences, Social Studies/History, Technology/Information Science

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)

Booking Information

Book it!

Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

Sites canceling the program within 72 hours notice will be charged half the regular fee unless the cancellation is weather related. Please remember I lose a full day whenever you cancel. Thank you.

About This Provider

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Hank Fincken: A National Theatre Company of One

Indianapolis, IN
United States

                                   SO YOU KNOW

I’m still performing, but I’ve had to adapt. At this point, no
one is booking in-person live Theatre. So, I do virtual
presentations. To keep it exciting, I perform an excerpt from each
play, discuss the research, and answer your questions. It’s a
performance, a workshop, and an adaptation to your unique interests.

GOOD NEWS FOR YOU: It’s cheaper. Since I usually work through
CILC, I give them a block-booking discount. That discount is for
you. And there’s another discount if you book a second
presentation the same day. Call it the family discount. That means
it’s your turn to do the dishes.

CILC is a virtual learning network. I have received 8 of their
national Pinnacle Awards. The judges are customers from the previous
year, 7 questions that must result in at least a 95% OUTSTANDING
evaluation. My mother never endorsed me with such a score.

LET’S TALK NITTY-GRITTY: I can perform in English and Spanish.
For years, school, colleges, and libraries have said they want
programs that appeal to their Latinx students. So, why didn’t they
call me? Either they found me too expensive or too white. This past
July I taught Theatre in Spanish in Ecuador for the fifth year in a
row. Am I a native speaker? No, but my Spanish is good enough to
tell bad jokes and get the job done. I inspire. In addition, I
lived in Peru and Costa Rica for 6 years.

LET’S TALK DIRTY: All my characters are controversial. That’s
why I chose them. I wanted to have meaty discussions about things
that matter. I will not be preaching simple answers, but I will help
you better understand complex questions. For example, if you think
Christopher Columbus and Francisco Pizarro are horrific men, then you
are simplifying the past the same way White America used to do. If
you want complex history, book me. If you want comfortable history
with easy to identify good guys and bad, please don’t. Don’t you
want to know the “whys” behind their behavior so you don’t
replicate their footsteps?? Hey, CC is not your lazy
brother-in-law! You can also see here that I refuse to let humor
with all its destructive powers creep into my program.

WHAT HASN’T CHANGED. My research is excellent. All my scripts
have been fact-checked by college professors, not college students.
I will present the most accurate history I can (and disregard faddish
history when possible), which provides soul-searchingful insight
about the past and hope for the future. I encourage thought-provoking
questions and will try to avoid only demonizing and stereotyping.

DON’T BELIEVE ME: Ask a tough question. Give me your best shot.   

Hank’s grandfather
used to say, “Go Back far enough and every successful family begins with a
horse thief. “ Then let’s take it as a given: All historical characters have
serious flaws, just like you and me.  Hank’s
goal in representing famous people from history is not to explore a rosy past
but rather to better understand mistakes while keeping in mind noble intentions
and achievements.  Of my eight original
one-man historical plays, six are appropriate for your venue. 

For thirty
years, Hank has presented historical plays with a bite.  He wants the audience to understand that the
past was as complex as the present and the only way to improve this inherited
culture of ours is to honestly discuss virtues and flaws.   No two performances are the same because all
Hank’s plays are interactive, and they evolve according to the interests of
each audience.  In one play, the main
character says, “The History you get depends on the questions you ask.”

provides award-winning study guides.  If
the audience (student or adult) comes prepared, Hank can go deeper into the
material.  Hank interprets prepared
students as a sign that the teacher is as committed to the success of the
presentation as he is.  Hank speaks to a
venue representative long before he arrives to make sure he covers the issues
that the teachers and/or audience think are important. 

Hank has added a new STEM component to all his plays. Details
about this, and how his programs meet state standards, are available upon


Indiana Arts Commission gave him the title of Master Artist, and the Indiana
Theatre Association gave him its Service Award for promoting Theatre throughout
the state.  He has performed all across
this nation and in Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, and Spain.  In the summer of 2019, Hank received his
seventh national Pinnacle Award for his teaching of History and Creative
Writing through video conferencing.  

Hank Fincken

Program Details


The program is a first-person presentation of Christopher Columbus.
1. Hank as Hank shows slides of his research in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic.
2.Columbus discusses his first voyage with audience, who pretends to be the Spanish Royal court in 1493.
3. Participants ask Columbus questions.
4. Columbus shares a map of his journey and discusses his 1492 findings and the technology of his day..
5. Mr. Fincken steps out of character and discusses the difference between Columbus's answers and what historians have since learned about the journey.
6. Students and teachers then ask Columbus himself anything they want to know about all 4 voyages.
7. New, new, New. Mr. Fincken can, upon request, conclude with a role playing game. Mr. Fincken asks the students to get into Columbus's shoes and persuade King Fernando (Hank) to support his venture.

Some of this will change according to the needs of the teacher and/or audience.


1. Participants will begin to understand Columbus' contribution to world and American history.

2. Participants will explore the controversies surrounding the voyages and character of Christopher Columbus.

3. Participants will become more critical in determining the difference between fact and fiction.

4. Students and actor discuss the Columbian Exchange of foods, plants, animals, and disease.

5. Hank/Columbus can discuss technology of 1500.

6. Students will begin to understand the difference between having a good idea and getting others committed to its conclusion.

7. Students will see the role of risk in any scientific or artistic venture.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

As a result of activities in grades K-12, all students should understand how to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
As a result of activities in grades K-12, all students should
Understand how to apply geography to interpret the past.
Understands major discoveries in science and technology, some of their social and economic effects, and the major scientists and inventors responsible for them
The student in grades 5-12 should understand how the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world from 1450 to 1600 led to global transformations.

State Standards

Social Studies
Trace the major land and water routes of European explorers of the Caribbean Sea region and North America, and examine their individual stories and reasons for exploration.
5.1.6 Identify European nations that sponsored major expeditions. Examples: Spanish expeditions by Christopher Columbus
5.1.7 Explain the religious, political, and economic reasons for European exploration and colonization, and describe the competition to establish colonies and trade routes.
6.1.11 Analyze the interconnections of people, places, and events in the economic, scientific, and cultural exchanges that led to the European Renaissance and voyages of discovery.
WH.7 Worldwide Exploration, Conquest, and Colonization, 1450 to 1750 Examine the causes, events, and consequences of European worldwide exploration, conquest, and colonization from 1450 to 1750.
WH.7.1 Explain the causes and conditions of worldwide voyages of exploration and discovery by expeditions from Portugal, Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands.
WH.7.2 Explain the origins, developments, main events, and consequences of European overseas expansion through conquest and colonization.
WH.7.3 Explain how European nations achieved dominance in the Americas.
8.1 History Students will examine the relationship and significance of themes, concepts, and movements in the development of United States history, including review of key ideas related to the discovery, exploration, and colonization of America, the revolution and founding era.
8.4.1 Identify economic factors contributing to the European and exploration colonization in North America