Clifton “Hines” Early’s full and storied life is so compelling that, while working as an advisor on the highly acclaimed {HBO} series, The Wire, he was encouraged by a friend and writer for the show to write the story of his life. The book, “Had I Listened,” which he describes as “a memoir of sorts,” covers the trials of his childhood and how he survived them.

“It is about a boy growing up in Baltimore City with not enough guidance and not enough love. But with those bad breaks, he took what he had and tried to make a success out of his life,” he said. “I want the book to be an inspiration for others …to encourage them to strive for a better life and to help others along the way. That’s my goal.”

Now, having successfully sold several thousand copies of his book, Hines is producing the story as a play and is focusing on the goal of supporting two causes: prostate cancer awareness and Baltimore’s Arena Players, Inc. The play, which will be directed by actor and stand-up comedian Howard G., well known for his “Kiss my Bumper” ads for an auto insurance company, will be presented at the Arena Players ( Dec. 1 and 2. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the curtain will rise at 7.

As a 10-year survivor of prostate cancer, Hines is adamant about promoting prostate cancer awareness, especially to young Black men. Proceeds from the play will benefit Martin Luther King Prostate Cancer Awareness (, a nonprofit support organization that Hines started at his church, Martin Luther King Jr. United Methodist Church.

“My major motivation was to bring prostate cancer awareness as much to the forefront as I can for young black men because it’s the second leading killer of black men, and early detection is the key to survival. If you catch it early, you can survive it. Most people think prostate cancer is an old man’s disease, but now the Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins are encouraging young men to start getting tested as early as 30,” Hines explained.

He also feels very strongly about presenting the play at Baltimore’s Arena Playhouse, the longest continuously operating African-American community theater in the U.S.

“This is my way of giving back to a historic institution that has always supported young Black playwrights and actors that could now use some support from the community. It’s just another way of carrying forward the intended spirit of the book,” he said.

Because his story has both serious and humorous sides, Hines brought in actors who are comedians. Larry Lancaster stars as a young Hines, and Big Shorty portrays his oldest friend, Shorty Buise. The production is a family affair, and Hines’ son, Rodney, is the production assistant and has several cameos throughout the play.

For advance ticket sales and information, contact E. Hines at 410-952-3538, Howard G. ay 410-808-5805 or Rodney E. at 443-462-0874. Tickets are priced at $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The Arena Playhouse is located at 801 McCulloh Street.


Jannette J. Witmyer

Special to the AFRO