Shortly after I quit my (wonderful) job as a teacher I moved back to Amsterdam in pursuit of a career as a composer and playwright for musical theatre, when the phone rang; to my surprise I was asked to work on a new show for children on national TV called Speelplaats ("Playground") as a song writer and improv-actor. The call appeared to be a direct result of my High School musicals. For every episode kids from a different school wrote a short story and played that out in the studio, unscripted with two adults guiding them, a young actress and me. Besides I wrote and recorded the opening theme for the show and then one song per episode, sometimes only the lyrics. Only a few songs so far have been retrieved and one of them is posted below. The program was pretty bad and was cancelled after one season. However for me it was a very pleasant and professional experience, but born for acting I am not.
Speelplaats (TROS-TV 1977)
In one episode I played Santa Claus who had his warehouse robbed and was tight to a chair by the villains. Luckily the children were able to chase them away and release me from my shackles.
Here is the song for the Christmas episode:
Music by Ilja Gort (Buma) - Lyrics: René Damen (ASCAP)
Het Geheim Zit In Een Bal ("The Secret Is In A Ball", 1977)
This episode's theme was pollution and me --as a professor-- and the kids invented a flying ball, not unlike a skippy ball, which takes you through the air to wherever you want to go, without making noise and with no use of energy to speak of. (The producer did not insist on a sensible dose of realism, so we went with it.) Don't know Dutch? You can't miss the word ball in this silly song. I do the vocal part accompanied by piano. For the translation in English: click here.
Er gebeurt helemaal niets (1968)
De Havenfilm (1980)
Sacrifice Area (1981)
For many years and on many occasions I collaborated with my brother Ernie Damen and one or two of his fellow filmmakers, mostly in writing the narratives for his documentaries and then recording the voice-over either in his own home studio or in a bigger, professional setting in Amsterdam or Hilversum. My voice-over in Dutch for the documentary Sacrifice Area, about groundwater pollution on the Hope reservation, was eventually replaced by an English version spoken by an American actor because of the international release of the movie. In the De Havenfilm you can still hear my (young) voice.
Occasionally I assisted my brother in music design for the movie's soundtrack and I remember I wrote a song for a documentary about a vocational school for girls. This recording, if one exists, has not been retrieved yet.
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