Spotlight On: Damian Wampler, Part of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity



The Clyde Fitch Report is supporting the actors, playwrights, directors and associated artists appearing in the first annual Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, a new “eco-friendly” festival designed to promote social and cultural awareness. At least 26 not-for-profit organizations with benefit from the proceeds raised by this 19-day event.

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Today’s featured artist is writer-producer Damian Wampler; the play is Twin Towers.

A Damian Wampler production benefiting ENACT
Written by Damian Wampler
Directed by Angela Astle

An Iraq war veteran returns to the Bronx after years at war in search of his childhood friend, also returned from years abroad. Twin Towers uses song, dance and action to tell of two best friends reunited and divided amongst the social and political turmoil of present day America.

All performances are at:
440 Theaters
440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor
(between Astor Place and E. 4th St.)

June 12 5:30 pm
June 14 9:00 pm
June 17 4:00 pm
June 18 4:00 pm
June 19 7:30 pm
June 28 1:00 pm

Each artist answers two questions:

Since the Festivity aims to promote social and cultural awareness in our community, can you talk about how your show will bring people together? Is the subject matter of the play — or is it more style or message or language?
The goal of Twin Towers is to show people that they can use their skills to make a positive change, no matter what their skills may be. We do this through the narrative of the play and by supporting a nonprofit called ENACT. First, the play itself is about two men who have both made very different life choices: one joined the Peace Corps and traveled the world helping people, while the other joined the army and fought in Iraq. The two, once very similar and raised as brothers, meet again in the Bronx to find out how different they are. The play asks people to think about life as a series of choices we make rather than a set of circumstances we are stuck in. Benefiting ENACT is also a way to open people’s eyes to the power of creative energy. ENACT uses actors to teach life skills to underprivileged youth using drama therapy techniques. I wanted to show people that all of us have a role to play in making our community better.

What role do politics play in your work as a theater artist? What role should it play?
Politics plays a central role in Twin Towers. While I used personal experience to create the characters, many of the overarching themes in the play were literally pulled from newspaper headlines. Set in Bush-era Iraq, the characters’ lives are propelled by the decisions of dispassionate political leaders, even though the decisions they make are ultimately their own. As a playwright I think it is my responsibility to shed light on important issues like abuse of power in in the military, race and class struggle, and gay rights. Because we are working in more or less a noncommercial space, we have the freedom to engage difficult subjects and approach them in a manner that Hollywood films wouldn’t touch.