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The Elephant Man

by Bernard Pomerance
permission by Samuel French
Audition Dates: Feb. 11-12, 2018 (tentative)
Performance Dates: Apr. 13-29, 2018

The Elephant Man is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the nineteenth century. A horribly deformed young man, victim of rare skin and bone diseases, he has become the star freak attraction in traveling side shows. Found abandoned and helpless, he is admitted to London's prestigious Whitechapel hospital. Under the care of celebrated young physician Frederick Treves, Merrick is introduced to London society and slowly evolves from an object of pity to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati only to be denied his ultimate dream, to become a man like any other.

Characters

Sir Frederick Treves - [15 Feb 1853 – 7 Dec 1923] (Age in play: mid to late 30’s)
Prominent English surgeon and teacher at the London Hospital. He meets Merrick, aka: The
Elephant Man, while viewing a freak show. After he brings him to live at the Hospital, their lives
become intertwined and they develop a close relationship. (this is a single role assignment)

John (Joseph) Merrick - [5 Aug 1862 – 11 April 1890] (Age in play: mid 20’s)
Merrick was an English man with severe deformities who was exhibited as a human curiosity
named the Elephant Man. The actor playing this role must possess above-average movement
skills and some experience with specialized vocal/dialect work. (this is a single role assignment)

Mrs. (Madge) Kendal - [15 March 1848 – 14 Sept 1935] (Age in play: late 30’s, early 40’s)
An English actress of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, best known for her roles in
Shakespeare and English comedies. She is confident in herself and unafraid of open, honest
conversation. Her acquaintance with Merrick quickly evolves into a spiritually rewarding and
trusting friendship. The actor playing this role must be comfortable with partial, modest nudity.

Carr Gomm - (Age in play: 50’s) Administrator of the London Hospital. He welcomes Treves to
his new post at the Hospital, and acts as an advisor/mentor to him throughout the play. He deals
with the “business/financial” side of the hospital affairs, but also plays the role of protector to
both Treves and Merrick.

Ross - (Age in play: anywhere from late 20’s to 40’s) Manager of “The Elephant Man” during
his time in the freak show circuit. Born and raised in the poorest and meanest area of London,
he uses Merrick to his own advantage, and takes his money after abandoning him in Brussels.

The Pinheads - (Ages in play: undetermined) Three freak-show performers from the Congo
whose heads are pointed. Merrick meets them while in Brussels, and they continue to appear
at other times in his life as spiritual/ethereal figures. The actors playing these roles must be
comfortable with movement and singing onstage (though not necessarily professionally trained).

Manager of the Pins - (Age in play: anywhere from 20’s to 40’s) Presumably from the
Congo, same as the Pins, but treats them very poorly and uses them to make money.

Belgian Police Officer - (Age in play: anywhere from 20’s to 40’s) The officer that arrests Ross
in Brussels for indecent exposure of Merrick at the freak show.

London Police Officer - (Age in play: anywhere from 20’s to 40’s) The officer that escorts
Merrick on the boat from Brussels to London, and assists in returning him to Dr. Treves.

Boat Conductor - (Age in play: anywhere from 30’s to 50’s) Conductor of the Ostend- London
boat train, he also assists in returning Merrick to Dr. Treves’ care at the London Hospital.

Nurse, Miss Sandwich - (Age in play: anywhere from 30’s to 50’s) A seasoned nurse,
Miss Sandwich has worked in Africa with tropical diseases and scourges. She is staunch,
professional and has a firm belief in God.

Bishop Walsham How - (Age in play: 40’s - 50’s) Bishop How is a believer and a shepherd
for God. He is dedicated to Merrick’s indoctrination into the church, and most pleased when he
puppets his beliefs in every detail. His understanding does not reach into the realms of science.

Will - (Age in play: anywhere from 20’s to 40’s) Will is a porter at the London Hospital, and one
of the first there to meet and attend to John Merrick. He sneaks others in to gape at him, and is
fired by Carr Gomm.

Snork - (Age in play: anywhere from 20’s to 40’s) Snork is another porter at the London
Hospital, and is the last to speak with John Merrick before he dies.

Lord John - (Age in play: anywhere from 20’s to 40’s) Lord John is presumably a man of
wealth and a member of the upper-class British society, who befriends John Merrick along with
the rest of the “important people” in London society. However, he is later discovered to be a
swindler and a user... not unlike Ross or the Manager of the Pins.

The Duchess, The Countess and Princess Alexandria - (Various ages) These women are
all members of British royalty and high society. In accordance with the fashion, they befriend
Merrick and visit him as though he was a rare and exotic exhibit. They congratulate themselves
on their charity, and hold no special feelings for him (unlike Mrs. Kendal and Dr. Treves).