a play by Damian Wampler, directed by Angela Astle

Best friends, separated by choice, reunited by fate.

Starts Friday, June 12 for 6 shows at the Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette.

Showtimes: Friday, June 12, 5:30pm,
Sunday, June 14, 9:00pm
Wednesday, June 17, 4:00pm
Thursday, June 18, 4:00pm
Friday, June 19, 7:30pm
Sunday, June 28, 1:00pm

Tickets are $18 at http://www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com/

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I just made my second T-shirt sale and I've sent my script to 3 competitions and three or four producers. I can't say what will happen to Twin Towers but at least I'm moving forward. Thanks to all those who support my play with Spread Shirt. You know who you are!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Wow, I'm swamped with work. Luckily I'm doing things I love- taking pictures, editing pictures, taking more pictures.

What about writing? I've sent my script to one producer and tomorrow I'll mail it to a play writing competition. The photocopies and submission fees are starting to add up- don't they know we are starving artists?

Just to prove that I've been doing something (and not updating my blog) here's a recent pic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the Move

A few updates for everyone.

First, I just bought some property on the internet so I'll be moving my blog there over the next few days. I'll need the cyber u-haul to come get my stuff.

Moving? To a permanent home? That's right, I'll be at www.twintowersplay.com from now on. Of course blogger will automatically direct you there, so unless you still type in your url's by hand you'll be fine.

What's the occasion? I finished copy editing my play (actually my mom did) and this is a little reward. As soon as I get my act together (aka do my SVA homework) I'll be mailing this thing to producers, contests and festivals. Yahooo!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sex Addiction

I just saw two movies in a row where one of the characters was a sex addict, or perhaps a love addict- someone who can't seem to spend a night alone without a woman. In Woody Allen's Vicky, Christina Barcelona, Javier Bardem's Character moves from one partner to the next, unable to be alone, unable to say no, unable to resit seducing any woman he feels is vulnerable. In the Choen Brothers' Burn After Reading, George Clooney's character finds another woman the moment his wife or lover is out the door. He constructs elaborate sex toys in his basement and carries his 'wedge' around with him like a baby's blanket.

Clinton was a cheater. Edwards is too. And in my play, Trevor is a sex addict. He can't go two seconds without female attention. When he's rejected or ignored (or doesn't get what he wants) he runs to another. And while he appears to be oversexed, he can never get enough. What is this pehnomena? Why is it so pervasive? Why do we ignore sexual helath for men? And how have out our cultural and political aversion to discussions about sex make it almost impossible for boys and men to understand their own bodies.

For Trevor, his sexuality is the devil. It comes to him, distorts him, demonozes him and ultimately destroys him as he uses sex to get what he really wants- love. Sex is a magnet for so many emotions. It draws in all our fears, anxiety, frustration, pain and desire and rolls it into one. Sorting it all out can be difficult- without reflection and self knowledge, impossible. Any emotion we repress will find a way out somehow, and during sex and intimacy these emotions have a chance to escape.

Sex, and its appropriateness, is constructed according to a great number of norms. When and where we live determine what is appropriate and what is wrong, making it difficult to understand what is acceptable sexually. If it was not OK 50 years ago, is it OK now? If they do it Latin America, can we do it here? The main point of Twin Towers though is that sorting this out is easier that it seems. The answer to all our questions is written on our own hearts. Not in the laws or the doctrine of any church but in the cathedral of our our own soul, the judge and jury of our own constitution. Sex or no sex, gay sex, gay marriage- if it's done out of love it can't be wrong. Period.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


As you may know, I'm a full time photography student at the School of Visual Arts studying digital photography. What drew me to the program was the potential for images to draw in a large audience, regardless of their language skill or education level. With internet technology, images with emotional impact can circle the globe in seconds.

Photography is a means, not an end. In one of our readings, Sebastian Salgado says, "Photography can change absolutely nothing; the most that it can hope for is to show that some things ought to be changed." Is that not true of any art? Do we not face this in our every day lives? How often do we want our friends to not make that really bad choice, to have our parents act differently, for our government to be moral and proactive. And what can we do about it, except express ourselves any way we can, maybe provide an alternative, a few words that offer hope or an alternative way of living. We, as Epictitus stressed in his Manual for Living, must know what we can change and what we can not. We must change what we can, and not worry about that which is out of our reach.

The only conflict lies in that we never know what is truly beyond our reach. If we determine that something is out of our control, we may simply write it off and never try to bring about change. And that writing off may limit ourselves to a narrow, pedestrian existence. And at this point we return to art, or perhaps simply expression, a targeted one, takig into account that which we would like to change and providing an alternative through a kind word, some advice, an image, a story, a song, a play, a film. However you can bring your vision of a better life into this world, you must do so, never knowing what impact it may have on others. Like a stone thrown into a pond, we will never know how far the ripples extend. So, to Salgado, photography can change absolutely nothing, but a vision of the way things ought to be can change absolutely everything.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Yes, it is still bothering me- who bought a shirt on Spreadshirt last week? I e-mailed the nice folks at Spreadshirt (when you work someplace you immediately become 'folk') and they told me that for security purposes they couldn't disclose th#@%what? Security purposes? I'm not selling weapons. Anyway, whoever bought it got an old version of the shirt. Please check out the LATEST VERSION of each shirt based on your comments. Plus, I have a new logo, above, and a spiffy background.

Regardless of who bought a shirt, THANK YOU! The more people who buy shirts, the faster this think hits broadway. And a true production note, the play is being copyedited for errors and should be ready to show producers next week. And I actually have the names and addresses of two producers. We are moving forward!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I was talking to James about my play, and mixed in between the subtle criticism and the overt hatred of a very weak second draft came a statement: make sure you know what your play is really about. And that remains the question: what is Twin Towers really about? Two childhood friends meeting up? Life in the Bronx? The psychology of an Iraq war veteran?

Today I'll have to say that Twin Towers is about freedom, and about what freedom does to one who is balanced and one who is not. Freedom can release one man and ruin another. Bondage can suffocate one man and keep another from falling to pieces. I'd like to explore freedom as a concept, and about different types of boundaries and bondage. Leave a comment if you have an experience to share. The philosophy of freedom is vast, and so is the depth of human experience about this topic. Please, join in!

The Airport

I went to the airport on Monday, and for the first time in ages I wasn't the one leaving. Instead I saw seeing a good friend off to her native Indonesia. And while saying goodbye was sad, the place itself, the endless desks, huffy guards, clicking of high heels and squeals of luggage rollers, the smell of bad airport food and duty free perfume, the pushing and shoving and finally that last hug, it churned up a host of other memories, other airports, other times, other lifetimes. If I hadn't gone out there to JFK I probably wouldn't have reflected on my own departures and arrivals in this journey.

It reminded me that life is a continium of burying and rediscovering, rejecting and reclaiming, loss and gain. These cycles take place in the human heart, and can not be accessed on purpose. Try as you might to meditate on that which is most important to you every evening, if you didn't do anything during the day you'll find your soul is as empty as your cubicle- your inner you is a reflection of your outer expereince. I found that you have to go out and experience life, wherever it may take you, in order to have roughage to chew on when you do get down to meditate. You can't search an empty room. You have to fill it first, fill it with experiences. And in that sense you have to let life take you, and make opportunities of the randomness.

At the same time, your outer life is a reflection of your inner you. If your inner self is tarnished or tainted, so is your world, no matter where you are. Purifying yourself helps to clean the world you live in and move forward. When your soul is clear you'll find that although life does indeed take you places, the places you go will be nicer and nicer. So in a sense, when I went to the airport, I didn't have to go anywhere, because the moment took me to a dozen other airports- Bishkek, Istanbul, Vienna, Tashkent, Madison, Logan, and back to JFK. Reflecting on those airports will take several days, if not months. But it will insure that my next real flight is in the right direction.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Thank you to everyone who checked out my spreadshirt store:
I've made some changes based on your feedback. Let me know what you think.

Canceled Stamps

Throughout the play we are reminded that Trevor, the Iraq war veteran, grew up without parents. Raised by his grandmother Esther, Trevor never knew his father and was abandoned by his mother as well. Esther took him in and raised him, making up for her failure as a mother by being a mother to Trevor.

In early versions of the play, Trevor's mother and father simply weren't there. But is that realistic? Do people vanish into thin air? And even if they are gone, aren't they still really there somehow, in our minds or perhaps our hearts? I began to reflect on my own life and the lives of my friends and found that there are always signs of life, we simply have to know how to read them. What got my attention is my friend Kristin's blog, Canceled Stamps. It reminded me instantly of the letters and postcards my parents always sent me from all over the world. Postcards I threw away, she kept. I've known Kristin since grade school, so it is ironic that her blog has influenced the final version of my play about friends from grade school meeting up. After reading her blog I understood a little bit more about her and about myself, and added elements from her/our lives into Trevor's character. Now Trevor's mother is always in the background as Esther finds letters and postcards throughout her house. On tables, shelves, drawers, Esther keeps finding them and giving them to Trevor.

"Your mother isn’t good at a lot of things, but at least she writes." says Esther in act one.

But Trevor avoids them, discards them and ultimately tears them to pieces. Not only do we have to read the signs but we have to accept them- for what they are. I won't go into detail about Canceled Stamps - check it out for yourself, quite amazing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Support the Play

I added the finishing touches to my play not long ago thanks to some helpful feedback from my readers. Thanks Gerald. Now the fundraising begins.

As I prepare to show my play to producers I would like to test a potential product- Twin Towers T-Shirts. Please check them out on my webstore and let me know what you think. Would you buy one? Are they too expensive, too cheap, too ugly? And, it if you like a T-shirt the way it is, go ahead and buy it! Proceeds from the sales of these T-shirts goes to the production of my play, graduate school and rent.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Chameleon

Yesterday on the train I read an article in the New Yorker called The Chameleon. It is about a man who grew up in abusive homes and then foster care his whole life. Once an adult he became a con artist, pretending to be a young boy and infiltrating foster homes and even families in Europe and the USA. It is a bizarre case, but not unbelievable. When there is something missing from our lives it is like a gaping hole in our hearts, and we, humans, go to any length to either fill that hole or erase it. By erase I mean to erase the hurt from our minds by using drugs or alcohol. By fill I mean to go in search of a way back to that which we have lost, or a substitute for that which we lack. Both of these paths are useless and utterly destructive. The former, substance abuse, I know nothing about and always prided myself in being immune to. The later, the endless search for that which we long for, and the destruction that it can cause to one self and others, I know intimately.
In the article, Frédéric Bourdin changes his appearance and personality in order to pander to the sympathy, hope, fear and faith of those around him. He finds what people cling to and plays off it. not for a free meal and a bed, but for something even more important - for love. Judges around the world have found it difficult to put this man in jail on criminal charges, for is the search for home, for love, for family, truly criminal?
Trevor has a piece of Frédéric Bourdin in him. Two characters in the play, Olivia and Ester, refer to him as the Chameleon, and I wrote this before the New Yorker article came out. If I were to focus the play entirely on Trevor I would have renamed it Chameleon. He gives people what they want to hear, not what they need, in the desperate attempt to escape the truth. The truth, however , in inescapable, not matter which end of the earth we run to.
As my friends have noted, there is a piece of Trevor in me, a large piece. For many years I travelled, I searched, I ran, and I slipped into other people's families. I felt comfortable sitting at a table with someone else's mom and dad. Not just comfortable, but I preferred it. In the Peace Corps I lived with a family for a year, and for 7 years afterwards I sought to return to Central Asia for nothing more to be a part of that family again. 7 years of longing, desperation, darkness.

The cycle was recently broken. There comes a point though where one stops searching for a family in others and finds family-ness as a trait inside your own heart. Where one doesn't look for a wife but one simply sees one's self as an ideal husband, both strict and caring. The wife-like traits one is searching for must be within, for finding a partner with all the traits you lack is doomed to either fail or create a relationship of dependency. To be whole within one's self is now my goal. Unfortunately Trevor, and many others, never learn this lesson. And Twin Towers leaves us with a question - can Jamal become whole despite unbearable pain and saddness, or will evil consume those closest to Trevor. For the Chameleon, the shapeshifter, the changeling, is actually the devil himself. Without a solid core we are subject to the whim of the wind and the devil.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Reality

"Twin Towers" is without a doubt sympathetic to the hardships faced by our men and women overseas. Part of my inspiration for the play stems from my own wish to see my friends return from Iraq and Afghanistan safe and sound. Many of my closest friends from high school and one friend I served with in the Peace Corps are currently overseas. In fact one of them is in Afghanistan while is wife raises his newborn daughter. In a recent e-mail he told me, "It sucks being here and not being able to watch my one year old daughter grow up."

Some of my friends have commented that the military has diversified to a point where it is more about gaining necessary skills and less about drafting African Americans from the ghetto. This is a valid point- my friends in the military are right to remind me that the army of today is vastly different than the army of the Vietnam era draft, where the poorest and least educated were taken involuntarily. That being said, my play is set in New York City and all I can do is write about what I see. My point is that my play is not meant to represent the complete dynamics of the modern demographic. Hell, Trevor fights a swarm of zombies in Act I, so I'm not claiming to bring the truth, just a cross section of one man's struggle with his inner demons. Thanks to all of you who are reading my blog, your comments are appreciated.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Although Twin Towers is highly autobiographical, personal and original in concept, there are number of books and movies that inspired me along the way. Here is a summary, enjoy!

Undoubtedly one source of inspiration comes from my favorite author, Herman Hesse. The play contains some structural elements of his famous novel Narcissus and Goldmund while it clearly contains a reference to the Magic Theater from Steppenwolf.

In Twin Towers I pay tribute to the film Tap staring Gregory Hines. My dance scene is a combination of the introductory jail scene where the main character taps to natural rhythms, and the Fred Astaire-esque rooftop scene.

I also borrow from the fun 80’s flick The Warriors, which uses New York City as a backdrop for an unlikely crew of colorful gangs. Where else would I have gotten the Brazilian street thugs from! TRAILER

While I don’t directly steal from any of Romero’s zombie movies, I was guided by his philosophy on film making that I read in two articles, one in the Onion and the other in the Village Voice. Romero says, "I have this device, or conceit, where something happens in the world and I can say, 'Ooo, I'll talk about that—and I can throw zombies in it!" I took this advice to heart and tell a powerful emotional and political tale while having fun at the same time. Although I have to admit that my zombie scene ends up looking more like something from Thriller.

I was conscious of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s final speech (played by Ewan McGregor) to Anikin in Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. Like Revenge of the Sith, Twin Towers tells of two friends divided by good and evil, and one ultimately succumbs to darkness.

OBI-WAN: (continuing) . . . You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness… You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.

And what about Stop-Loss? I didn't see it until last night, more than a year after I started writing! Oh, my play is better...

Monday, August 4, 2008


Dance is a theme that flows throughout Twin Towers. The two types of dance we see are Argentine Tango and Capoeira. Trevor, our main character, is a master at both. In Act one we learn that the foundation of his relationship with Olivia Walker was forged through Tango. Their personal intimacy is brought about, or perhaps upstaged, by the physical aspect of their relationship. As the play goes on we find that Trevor is unable to voice much of what he feels, and he needs a physical element to any emotion in order for it to reach the surface.

The fundamental root of Trevor’s dilemma is the inability to differentiate between what Erich Fromm calls brotherly love and erotic love. What happens when a man loves a woman is natural. But what happens when a man loves another man? What happens when a man who has lived a life of violence finally feels the need to express love? What happens when one who has never received love finally decided to try to give it? It is awkward, confusing and ultimately disappointing for someone who doesn’t know the difference between the two types of live.

These are the fundamental dilemmas that face Trevor as he returns home from the war. In wartime he was fluid, comfortable, supreme. In peace, he is lost, impotent and frustrated. His only refuge is to take violence, the only thing he knows, and use that as a love force: hence, Capoeira. Capoeira is a blend of martial art, game and dance brought from Africa by slaves and developed in Brazil. This unique dance is a vehicle for developing the relationship between Trevor and Jamal, underlying how the two characters are sometimes in harmony and at other times in conflict. Capoeira blurs the line between dancing and fighting and serves as a metaphor for the grey area between friendship and intimacy.

In Capoeira, Trevor can do physically what he is unable to say – enter into intimate contact with another human being. But the fuzzyness of Capoeira remains – “is it a dance or is it a fight?” Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

I myself was introduced to Capoeira when I volunteered at a community center in the South Bronx through New York Cares (You may have seen it in video games or the film Only the Strong). I helped teach Capoiera to the kids there and learned a little myself. I then went to take one lesson with the teacher and learned the fundamentals. Capoeira’s beauty is that is once was a fully developed martial art that became what it is today because of the oppression of slavery. Violence became dance out of necessity. We can only hope that dance never reverts back to violence.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Air Support

Below is an excerpt from the first version of my play. This section has been cut but it fills in details about Trevor that are still evident in the play, as well as exemplifies the tragedy of war that plays out on all our soldiers in combat. Trevor, traumatized the the reality of his own actions in Iraq, still can not pull himself away from the screen of his laptop. He has obtained areal footage from one of his missions where he had a near death experience and he watches it over and over. In this scene, it is 3:00am. Why are we drawn to images of death? Why do we hold on to them and live in the past? Is war something we can ever move away from once experienced?

Although dramatized, what is described below is what actually happened to a soldier I met. He came very close to death and somehow got a copy of the video from the fighter bomber. He showed us the video as well, which looked very much like the one I have posed above.

Trevor sits on the be with Bunny watching a video
Trevor: OK, see that big building? We were up against that. All those black dots, that’s us.

Bunny: Oh I see. Like ants.

Trevor: Like fire ants!

Bunny: No, like little black ants.

Trevor: You’re ruining it. There are six Americans and seven of those good for nothing Iraqi police. They’re scared to shoot ‘cause the guys closing in on us could be their relatives or something. Ain’t that some fucked up shit. And there are at least 150 of them, insurgents, rebels, freedom fighters, whatever you want to call them- bad guys, that’s what we call ‘em. They tried to wear us down, thinking we’d run out of food an ammo, but hours and hours of fighting go by and we are still there and they are dropping like flies. So they swarm down on us, maybe 135 of them, to take us out. Like a zombie movie, crazies everywhere, within a few feet of us, and we are just blasting away. But we’re ultimately gonna loose. So I called to the pilot, see, called in an air strike. That’s me screaming for him to come.

Bunny: Screaming like a woman.

Trevor: Quiet. And here he is talking to AWAC, he’s getting the coordinates of the enemy position, and I’m like ‘hurry up god damn it!’ And here he swings around. Wait, see, see this, ok, that’s them. And pow! He lets it go, swings away, see, shit, how close it was?! Ok, look at the ring of debris, see he dropped it maybe three meters from our position, and the rubble, rocks the size of cars, went right over our heads and landed on the other side of us. I mean, a bit closer and we’d be vaporized, and a bit further away and all that concrete would have landed right on top of us. But it just went sailing right over us. So accurate. Jesus. (pause) I like to think that he did that on purpose. I mean, he could have had orders just to take out the bad guys, maybe sacrifice the six of us, who knows. Maybe we got lucky. Don’t touch me.

Bunny: Sorry.

Trevor: I gotta go.

Bunny: Please stay.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Reading

On Saturday, 4 strangers met to read my play out loud in the basement of a bar in the West Village. I am fortunate to live in a city where people are so enthusiastic about theater that they would do a cold reading for a stranger on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Thank you all for helping me and for your honest feedback at the end.

A reading is critical. I was able to see who had too many lines, which characters vanished for too long, and what lines provokes laughs and smiles. It got my wheels turning, and I am thinking about how what changes to make. How did it read? Well, my first impression is that the bold second act obscures the mundane first act, making the whole piece feel stronger than it really is. What does this mean? With a little tinkering, I can make a good script into a great one. I don't have any overwhelming structural changes to make, just a few tweaks here and there. One of the readers said that it had a finished feel to it. I hope so, I've been working on it for a year! But it still needs more work to find a balance between the two main characters from the title, and to focus the emphasis on the transformation that is taking place within Jamal.

The most important question to come out of the reading was, "Why hip-hop?" And indeed, why an all black or mostly black cast? The play is about war, about pregnancy out of wedlock, about guns and gangs and displaced families. Our soldiers in Iraq aren't pulled from the white middle class suburbs, they come from the streets of the poorest neighborhoods. Our pop music and our dance also comes from the streets. Out problems and our richness come from these streets. In "Gangs of New York" they say America was born in the streets. I say it still is. I was thinking of Romeo and Juliet when I decided to place the play in the Bronx. Verona for the English was a mythical, bawdy, violent and lusty place. The Bronx, for us, conjures many of the same images, from "The Bronx is Burning" to "A Bronx Tale" to "Rumble in the Bronx", it is a place in our mind that stirs up heat, blood and asphalt. Quite simply, this play couldn't happen anywhere else.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Music

“Twin Towers” can be said to be a play about creation. Music is an integral part of the story of this play because I observed in Crown Heights and while volunteering in Harlem that music is woven into the fabric of every day life in African and Caribbean communities (as well as many others I’m sure).

In “Twin Towers” we meet to friends reunited after both living overseas for several years, Jamal in the Peace Corps and Trevor as a soldier in Iraq. Both are singers by a virtue of their upbringing in the Bronx, and as friends they invented rap songs together. In Act I we find Jamal trying to write a song, albeit unsuccessfully. Trevor is able to finish the song only after he comes to the cataclysmic realization that he is not the man he thought he was, and certainly not the hero and savior his friends and family are expecting him to become. It is only after the trauma of rejection and the realization of the awful truth about himself that Trevor can finish the song that Jamal could not. It is a reminder that destruction is a necessary cathartic force, clearing the way for new ideas and inspiration. It is a theme that flows throughout the play, with each character understanding the nature of creation and destruction to varying degrees.

Below is an excerpt from Trevor’s song:

Your words penetrate me
Armor piercing round
Like a rolling thunder
Recoil at the sound

I yield to your touches
Your fingers they invade
No shield can protect me
From the fate that I have made

Under cover of darkness you take me
To a place where madness will break me
And all my fears I thought over
Come alive in the shadow

The Subway

Several scenes in “Twin Towers” take place in the subway. The subway is a fascinating world – it is the one place in New York City where there is a real sense of community. If the train breaks down, we are all in it together. And when a stinky bum gets on your car, you better believe we are all in it together!

I met up with a subway performer, Heidi Burger, and began to photograph her and other platform artists for a book she is writing called the Subway Diaries, soon to be published. I actively sought out subway performers and befriended some of them, and in this process I learned how close knit and inclusive these people are. I watched as drummers and singers jockeyed for position to get the sweetest spots on the subway. I met a ballet dancer, a man who plays the saw and a magician who performs on the car itself. I’ve seen them yell at one another when their music overlaps, each claiming seniority. And I’ve seen unbelievable acts of kindness and compassion, a rare sight above ground!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An early scene

Here is an excerpt from an every version of the play which has since been cut. It is the dramatization of a story my boss likes to tell about his time in Vietnam:

Jeff: Go where you are needed, hu? ‘Till they don’t need you know more. Then they throw you right out on the street. Ain’t that how it is?

Omar: Ain’t that how it was?

Jeff: How it was. We served, Uncle Sam, two years in ‘dat jungle, you an me. In Vietnam. Remember that night? Rain’in. All I wanted was a hot meal.

Omar: Jus a hot meal.

Jeff: So I take my helmet, and I pour in a can of soup. And I try to light a fire. But everything is all wet. Soaked to the bone.

Omar: To the bone.

Jeff: So one guy in our platoon takes out the plastic explosive and pulls off a piece, a little tab like, the size of a dime. And he puts in on the ground and lights it up. And damn, like a roman candle that thing lights up. Hot soup- faser den a microwave! I pull my helmet off, but iz still burning, steady and bright, and I say, ‘You fool, you’ll give away our position’ and I step on it with my boot. And it burns a whole straight my boot, straight through my foot, straight up out the other side. And I get sent back the States. With noth’in. I get nothing. Because I ‘damaged government property.’ You in the military, your body is government property. Your body doesn’t even belong to you. How can you not own your own body?

Omar: I don no. I juz don’ know. (they exit)

More on the play…

The sounds of the street were the greatest inspiration for me to write this play, and since writing ‘Twin Towers” characters from my play appear before my eyes every day.

For example, last week on Eastern Parkway I saw a young man in a military uniform talking to his buddies on the front steps of his apartment. It reminded me of the opening scene of Twin Towers in an early version of the script, and made me think of how relevant my work is. The American soldiers in Iraq are drawn from the poorest neighborhoods, lured by the opportunity to ‘gain skills’ and make money.

Another night, I observed a Christian fundamentalist and a young entrepreneur argue on the 4 train all the way from Bowling Green to Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights. The business man wore a grey suit and bow tie, politely but fiercely shooting jibes and comments at his opponent. The evangelical held an oversized bible in his hand and quoted the scriptures for every retort. The entire platform was involved, and as we moved into the car the argument continued. I was sure a fight was going to break out on several occasions!

It is moments like this that created the basis for “Twin Towers”, which is actually set in the Bronx. And each day as I see more and more moments like this I am reminded that my play is relevant, real, raw and alive.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Welcome to my Twin Towers Blog. This is where it all begins- a cold reading in a dark room in New York.

This play began when I moved to New York two years ago. I had written and produced two plays in college but hadn't written anything since - until I arrived here. What better place to write and produce my play than here.

The words didn't come easily. I wanted to write something personal, something unique, something powerful. But living in Park Slope, there was little to inspire me. Then, 8 months later, I moved to Crown Heights, and Twin Towers began. Crown Heights has been called 'crime ridden', 'dangerous' and even 'volatile', but never boring. The streets here are alive with passion and vitality. What began as an exercise, writing down the conversations I overheard on Eastern Parkway, transformed into a story of a confused post 9/11 New York.

In the spring of 2007 I met up with an old high school friend Matthew Anderson and we took a road trip from Portland, Oregon to South Carolina, ending up eventually in Washington DC. Along the way I met with many old friends and realized two things - how similar we were, and how much we had grown apart. Matt had joined the Coast Guard, and many of my friends whom I met on that trip had just gotten back from one or two tours in Iraq. I, on the other hand, had just gotten back from several years living abroad teaching English and doing research, first with the Peace Corps and then on a Fulbright grant. We all had intense cross-cultural experiences in Muslim countries, but our perspective was fundamentally different because of the manner in which we chose to travel there. Thus my two main characters, Trevor and Jamal, were born. Two men from the same streets who both wanted the same things - travel, adventure, culture, but got it in different ways. The question is - if the methods of understanding yourself and your planet differ, can two people still find a common ground?

The play is all but done, and now I'm looking for some young enthusiastic actors to read it out load so I can do a final rewrite. From that we'll begin casting and then production. And from there? Who knows....