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/

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.

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