On the morning of Nov. 12, 2012, the young actor Prince Amponsah was pulled out of his burning apartment, with burns covering more than half his body. Eventually, doctors amputated his right arm above the elbow and his left arm just below. Mr. Amponsah returned to the stage last summer, and this week he stars in Contempt, a new play about romantic love for the physically disabled, at the Storefront Theatre. We spoke with him by phone.
You were severely injured in an apartment building fire. Did anything ever come of the investigation by the Fire Marshal's Office?
I can't get into specific detail about it, because the investigation is still ongoing. I can say that it was an old building and the alarm was not working. Electrical wiring was an issue as well.
Do you remember much of what happened?
I don't. Thank God I don't. I don't need those nightmares. After the fire, I was in a drug-induced coma. They were giving me so much medication, I can't tell you what I was experiencing.
Once you came out of that, and began to recover, did you assume you'd resume acting?
No. But I was fortunate to run into Harrison Thomas, who really encouraged me to get back into it. It hadn't crossed my mind until that point. But [last] summer I did the play Lot and His God.
A review of that play described your character as an angel who looked liked he been through the tortures of hell. Can we use that word, hell, to describe your experience?
You can use whatever word you want. But, yes, for sure. People consider fire to be the worst punishment you can endure. It's biblical. It's the Devil. It's hell. So, yes, it's the worst thing that can happen.
Or the worst might be being completely paralyzed, as your character is in Contempt. What about the demands of playing someone so severely immobilized?
I didn't realize how challenging it would be. I thought: "I don't have that much lines." But there's so much conversation going on behind my character's eyes. There's a huge discussion going on. The eyes are very expressive. It's how we communicate.
Can you talk about how you relate to the character?
As a disabled person, I connect to the character. As a person who is trying to experience intimacy again, and trying to be okay with it, and feeling inadequate with it.
Does the script ring true to you?
Brandon Crone is an amazing writer. A lot of the script relates to what I'm going through and what I've been through. A mother's strength, and a mother wanting a son to be happy. I relate to that completely.
The production must be an emotional experience for you.
It is. And that's why I'm enjoying doing it. I like to question life, and hopefully I make other people question life. You know, people say to me, "you'll find someone some day." I say, "gee, thanks for the thought." I mean, of course I'll find someone. We're all equal. We all deserve love. And I think that's what this play is about.
Contempt, Feb. 19 to March 5. $20 to $25. Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor St. W., thestorefronttheatre.com