JOSHUA ERICHSEN Producing Artistic Director
THE ELEPHANT MAN
by BERNARD POMERANCE
"The Elephant Man” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. www.concordtheatricals.com
Instead of a regular director’s note, here are thoughts from my work with the cast and crew that I hope we’ve manifested in our production.
THE SEED (precept that unites the events of the play): CONFORMITY
THE THEME (point of view the play expresses): CONFORMITY deforms our spirits, making us grotesque caricatures of ourselves.
SUPER-OBJECTIVE (the theme in progress, an ideal course of action): To live out the fullness of our humanity, and be all we can be
THROUGH-ACTION (the unifying action of the protagonist): To make John Merrick “like one of us” (Treves and others)
COUNTER THROUGH-ACTION (the unifying action running in opposition to protagonist): “This is myself.” (Merrick and others)
What is the play about?
It’s about the difficulty of defining what “normal” is. And - if it can be defined - is it desirable to pursue the acceptance of others if it means conforming to expectations or behaviors that feel counter to being one’s true self?
It’s about the conflict between Nature (associated here with authenticity, purity, things flawed but beautiful) and Civilization (associated here with illusion / falsity, corruption / hypocrisy, things beautiful but grotesque). It suggests that human-made indicators of “civilization” - Religion, Medicine, Commerce, Art, Law - actually deform and distort our humanity from being its best.
What universal truths does it demonstrate?
When you place a straight ruler alongside a twisted stick, the nature of each becomes clearer. The presence of a “holy fool” among other people will reveal and expose the deficiencies of their character. “God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame.” Although what happens when the “holy fool” begins to be corrupted by the world? He can no longer exist in it.
The lines are often blurred between doctor and patient, savior and victim, healthy and ill, beautiful and ugly.
Governing Image / Metaphor
Following Treves’ speech about the dangers of corsets, there’s something here about how the ways we try to cover or “dress up” our natures actually deforms us and makes us grotesque, and that the healthier movement is to strip away falsehood and pretense and to live authentically. Let’s explore this both in the layering on and stripping off of Treves’, Merrick’s and Mrs. Kendal’s clothing - and also in the ways that we build up and tear down the world of the play, as Treves’ project is succeeding or failing.
* Member of Actors Equity
1880s, in and around London’s
prestigious Whitechapel Hospital
Scene I HE WILL HAVE 100 GUINEA FEES BEFORE HE’S FORTY
Scene II ART IS NOTHING TO NATURE
Scene III WHO HAS SEEN THE LIKE OF THIS
Scene IV THIS INDECENCY MAY NOT CONTINUE
Scene V POLICE SIDE WITH IMBECILE AGAINST THE CROWD
Scene VI EVEN ON THE NIGER AND CEYLON, NOT THIS
Scene VII THE ENGLISH PUBLIC WILL PAY FOR HIM TO BE LIKE US
Scene VIII MERCY AND JUSTICE ELUDE OUR MINDS AND ACTIONS
Scene IX MOST IMPORTANT ARE WOMEN
Scene X WHEN THE ILLUSION ENDS HE MUST KILL HIMSELF
Scene XI HE DOES IT WITH JUST ONE HAND
Scene XII WHO DOES HE REMIND YOU OF?
Scene XIII ANXIETIES OF THE SWAMP
Scene XIV ART IS PERMITTED BUT NATURE IS FORBIDDEN
Scene XV INGRATITUDE
Scene XVI NO RELIABLE GENERAL ANESTHETIC HAS APPEARED YET
Scene XVII CRUELTY IS AS NOTHING TO KINDNESS
Scene XVIII WE ARE DEALING WITH AN EPIDEMIC
Scene XIX THEY CANNOT MAKE OUT WHAT HE IS SAYING
Scene XX THE WEIGHT OF DREAMS
Scene XXI FINAL REPORT TO THE INVESTORS
-Presented without an intermission-
Production Team & Front of House
Craig Betz & Family
FRONT OF HOUSE
The Amiot Family
Barbara & Steve Hostetter
Mary Jane Phillips
Jennifer & Tim Rowles
Mary Ann White
Cleveland Play House
Meet the Company
Michael Glavan *
Natalie Sander Kern
Beth is in her tenth season at the Players Guild Theatre. She earned her degree in Business Management and Marketing from the Ohio State University. Beth spent the majority of her career in management in the cosmetic and fashion industry in the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and NYC markets for brands including Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Yves St. Laurent, Paloma Picasso, and Giorgio Armani. Her background also includes grant writing, event planning, and fundraising. Beth is a co-founder, Executive Producer, and playwright for Red Fig Productions.
Tyra is absolutely thrilled to be a part of this exciting season! This is Tyra's seventh season with the Players Guild Theatre. With a career in the Cosmetics Industry as a special event manager, make-up artist, and account coordinator, Tyra couldn't be prouder to be a part of the Players Guild Theatre staff as Guest Services Manager. The arts and dance have always been a passion of hers, and it is her sincere pleasure getting to know the numerous talented performers in our community, and the incredible Volunteers that give a hand towards the theatre's success.