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Petitgirard
Elephant Man
English
Introduction
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
Act 4
French
Introduction
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
Act 4

ACT I

1 Scene 1
(Tom, Norman, Jimmy)

Elephant Man present but unseen.
He is in a tent or behind a drape.
During the scene, the shadow of his hands can be observed as he warms them over a small lamp enclosed within some bricks, a lamp that is also used for the exhibition.
Elephant Man, his real name being Joseph Merrick, was utterly misshapen
except for one arm and a hand that had escaped the disease. His hand was very delicate, like a woman's hand. Tom Norman is playing with a deck of tarot cards.
His assistant, Jimmy, is resting.

NORMAN
(very softly)
Jimmy! Jimmy!

Jimmy gently wakes up, like a child.

NORMAN
(tenderly)
On your feet, artiste!
We've got to get ready, Jimmy.
It's nearly time…
Time to start the show.

Jimmy gets up, only just awake.
He puts on his red waistcoat
with copper buttons.

NORMAN
Do you like this business, Jimmy?

JIMMY
Yes, Mr. Norman.

NORMAN
Do you like monsters, Jimmy?

JIMMY
Yes, Mr. Norman.

NORMAN
You must like them to like this business.
Like them, learn about them,
Like them, understand them…
You have to like them to present them,
Like them to exhibit them,
Be mad about their enormities,
Be proud of their deformities,
To make artistes of them,
Proper stars.
We must love them,
So they become beauty,
So that beauty can only longer be
A monster,
An outstanding monster,
A novelty,
A monster beyond reality,
A monstrous beauty!

Jimmy helps Norman to put on his silver costume,
the silver costume which gave him the nickname 'Silver King'.

NORMAN
You'll remember me.
You won't forget me, will you, little fellow?
You'll say it was I who taught you everything,
I, Tom Norman, known as the Silver King,
Showman,
Presenter of novelties,
Manager of curiosities.

Norman and Jimmy are in stage costume as presenters.

NORMAN
Showman…
It's about creating illusions,
Dreams and the sensational!

NORMAN & JIMMY
We are masters of the unusual,
Of the horrible, of the fantastic,
Displayers of Zulus,
Electric ladies…

Norman and Jimmy try out a few dance steps.
Seeing a group of youngsters coming, they hide to one side.

 

2 Scene 2
(Tom Norman, Jimmy
The Two Boys, The Young Girl)

Joseph Merrick is in his canvas tent.
Three youngsters arrive, two boys and a young girl.

 

BOY 1
(whispering)
Elephant Man!

BOY 2
(whispering)
Elephant Man!

BOY 1
(a bit louder)
Elephant Man, I know you're there!

BOY 2
(more clearly)
I smell your smell!
I smell your stink!

THE TWO BOYS
We smell your smell!
We smell your stink!
Come on, let's see you, Elephant Man.
Show us, show us,
Show us your trunk!

BOY 2
You'll be a great success like that.

BOY 1
They say you appeal to ladies!
(fake romanticism)
We've brought you a young girl.

THE TWO BOYS
Show yourself,
Frighten her,
Horrify her!

BOY 2
She's got the hiccups.

THE TWO BOYS
You not going to let her die, are you?
You can die from that, you know!

BOY 2
(to the young girl)
Go on, call to him.

YOUNG GIRL
(softly)
Elephant Man!
Mr. Elephant!
Are you there?
Sir…

THE TWO BOYS
Hey! Puffy face!
Scaly chops!
Give us a laugh!
Give us some fun!
Don't you want to see a beautiful girl
With pretty legs?

BOY 2
A beautiful girl with pretty legs?

THE TWO BOYS
A beautiful girl with pretty breasts?

YOUNG GIRL
Stop it! Leave me alone!

THE TWO BOYS
Come on, come and have a look at her, Elephant Man!
Come on, come on! Have a look!

Throughout this scene, Norman has kept his hand over Jimmy's mouth.

NORMAN
Clear off! You pair of mosquitos!
Off with you!  Pair of good-for-nothings!
Clear off,
Crummy little monsters!
Clear off!

All three rush off as Norman appears in his silver costume.

NORMAN
Youngsters, couldn't care less!
Youth is cruel.
The older I get, the less I can stand young people.
They couldn't care less.

JIMMY
Why did you let them do it?

NORMAN
For the emotion.
It's a good preparation
For the show.

Norman goes over to speak to Joseph.

NORMAN
Joseph! It was nothing, it was nothing, Joseph.
A few young mosquitoes,
A few gadflies,
Insects, Joseph!
You know there are insects abroad.
On your feet,
On your feet, Joseph!
The show is starting.
Representation,
Exhibition,
In the capital city,
In London, just next to London Hospital.
On your feet, Mr. Merrick!
We are going to conquer the public,
And tomorrow, we'll be in the chic areas,
A proper winter season,
And pennies, shillings by the thousand!
Come one, Joseph, on your feet!
We're all going to do the zoo,
In London before New York and Chicago.

On your feet, Mr. Merrick!
This evening we shall play for the chic set,
For the city people, the Ladies and Gentlemen.
Come and show yourself off for the pretty women,
And you'll give them a thrill
A few palpitations,
Love, emotion!
You think I've never seen you
Ogling the women.
You love them, all those pretty women,
You ogle them with your lizard eyes.
Have you seen a lizard, Joseph?
You know what I mean, Joseph.
I known you understand me.
You're the only one who does!
We are poor people,
You and I,
Wretched.
You see, Joseph,
I got it wrong the first time,
When I didn't really want you.
You're an artiste, Joseph,
You have greatness, Joseph.
A real stage phenomenon!
Merrick, I can feel it,
Success will come.
You noticed
Those students,
Those youngsters from the hospital,
All those doctors who came to see you.
You never know…
Joseph, make an effort!
If you were interested,
The whole faculty…
That would give us
Good publicity.
Joseph, don't call me Norman any more,
Call me Tom, please.
From now on
Call me Tom, please.

On your feet!
Come on, we're off to the zoo!
We'll live in America,
We'll be famous,
Together for the rest of our lives!
We'll do a show for my friend Barnum,
A grand show in the American Museum.
The whole world will get to know you,
The whole world will applaud you.
Come on, my elephant man.
Come with the Silver King.
We'll cross time,
The sea, the oceans.
Trust me,
And fortune will be with us.
We'll be Barnum's stars,
We'll make men weep
When they hear who we are:
Specimens, creatures,
Monsters, errors,
Freaks of nature,
Objects of disgust, of horror, of pity,
Yet men, living men for eternity.
Come, my friend, my dear old fellow,
We'll scale the heights of bliss,
We'll do the zoo for those that like it,
Madmen, perverts, heathens.
We'll produce a great circus show.
Lit by new electric lights,
With photographic views,
The jungle of Siam or Borneo.
Come, come my Elephant Man,
Come with Tom Norman.
Come, my friend, my dear old fellow,
We'll scale the heights of bliss,
To New York and Chicago,
Tokyo, Madras, Valparaiso!

 

3 Scene 3 (in Whitechapel Road)
(Jimmy, The Two Boys, The Young Girl, accompanied by her Father and Mother,
The Two Women, various groups of three or six people taken from the chorus, representing the local population.)
(The Father, the Mother, The Two Women and the various groups are taken from the chorus.)

Historically, according to Dr. Treves, the show took place in a fruit and vegetable shop.
The painted curtain was attached to a shop-front. Norman, who is not involved, is drinking to one side. Jimmy is selling the programme.

CHORUS
(Tutti)               It's an ordinary day,
(Basses)           A day like any other,
(Tutti)               In Whitechapel Road,
(Basses)           A day like any other,
(Tutti)               In our district,
                        Poor emigrants,
                        All these workers -
(Basses)           Whitechapel Road, East End -
(Tutti)               That society -
(Basses)           A day like any other -
(Tutti)               Too often forgets
                        To look at properly.
                        It's a day, a day like any other,
                        Sorrow, joy,
                        Come and go,
                        In these streets,
                        the streets in our district.
                        The days, the nights,
                        Are all the same,
                        Like our tomorrows.

 

JIMMY
(spoken)
Ask for his story, his life,
The legend of Elephant Man!

CHORUS
It's an ordinary day,

JIMMY
(spoken)
The real-life story of Elephant Man!

CHORUS
(Basses)           A day like any other,
(Tutti)               In Whitechapel Road,

JIMMY
(spoken)
With a unique photograph!

JIMMY
(sung)
Ask for his story…

CHORUS
(Basses)           Whitechapel Road, East End…
           
JIMMY
(sung)
Ask for the legend…
The life of Elephant Man!

CHORUS
(Tutti)               It's an ordinary day,
                        In Whitechapel Road…

JIMMY
(spoken)
The real-life autobiography of Joseph Merrick,
The greatest monster of all time!

CHORUS
(Tutti)               In our district…

JIMMY
(sung)
Ask for…

CHORUS
(Tutti)               Poor emigrants…

JIMMY
The legend…

THE MOTHER
Come here, don't look at that!

THE YOUNG GIRL
But I like elephants.

THREE WOMEN
We've seen him three times already.
He's got beautiful eyes.

THREE MEN
You're mad!

BOY 1
Have you seen Lady Electrika?

BOY 2
It was a trick.

BOY 1
How do you know?

BOY 2
There was a string, attached to a lead shot.

BOY 1
Really?

THE MOTHER
You see, there is worse than me!

THE FATHER
I'm not so sure!

WOMAN 1
It's incredible, this craze for monsters!

WOMAN 2
Oh, it's horrible!

THE FATHER
It's indecent!

WOMEN 1 & 2, THE MOTHER
I hate, I loathe it, I detest it!

WOMEN 1 & 2, THE MOTHER
Shocking!

6 SOPRANOS
Shocking!

6 TENORS
Shocking!

6 ALTOS
Shocking!

WOMEN 1 & 2, THE MOTHER
Shocking!

THE MOTHER
It's terrible, taking advantage of someone's misery!

THE YOUNG GIRL
If there are people who want to see that…

BOY 1
It doesn't hurt anyone!

BOY 2
It's better than seeing them beg!

BOY 1
If we're going to see monsters,
I would rather see some women!

BOY 2
Me too!

THE MOTHER
When I think of his poor mother!

THE FATHER
It's a terrible thing.

THE MOTHER, BOY 1
When you see that,
You say God doesn't exist.

WOMEN 1 & 2
It ought to be banned!

6 SOPRANOS
Shocking!

WOMEN 1 & 2
Shocking!

FATHER, MOTHER, 6 TENORS
Shocking!

ALL THE WOMEN
Shocking!

WOMAN 1
Do you think it's a disease?

WOMAN 2
What if it's contagious?

THE MOTHER
Hush, you're frightening me!

THE FATHER
Let's look at the photograph.

JIMMY
(scornful)
Sixpence!

CHORUS
(Tutti)               It's an ordinary day…

JIMMY
(spoken)
Ask for the story, the legend of Elephant Man!

CHORUS
(Basses)           A day like any other,
(Tutti)               In Whitechapel Road…

JIMMY
(sung)
With a unique photograph!

CHORUS
(Basses)           A day like any other,
(Tutti)               In our district,
                        Poor emigrants,
                        All these workers…

JIMMY
(shouting)
The real-life autobiography of Joseph Merrick!
The greatest monster of all time!

CHORUS
(Basses)           Whitechapel Road, East End -
(Tutti)               That society -
(Basses)           A day like any other -
(Tutti)               Too often forgets
                        To look at properly.
                        It's a day, a day like any other,
                        Sorrow, joy,
                        Come and go,
                        In these streets, the streets in our district.
                        The days, the nights,
                        Are all the same,
                        Like our tomorrows.

THE FATHER
How old is he?

THE YOUNG GIRL
Twenty, like me!

 

4 Scene 4
(Norman, The Chorus
The Two Boys, Jimmy
The Mother, The Young Girl)

NORMAN
Come on, come right up!
Ladies and gentlemen,
Don't be afraid!
I am here to instruct you,
For tuppence, only tuppence
Come and have a look,
Come and see what you have never seen.
You've already seen everything,
Dwarves, cannibals,
Two-headed women, Siamese twins,
But you have never seen
What I am going to show you now,
A man, a man…

CHORUS
Elephant…

NORMAN
A show that is not recommended
For children, for expectant mothers.
It's a freak of nature,
It's unique in the world, and for tuppence,
For only tuppence,
Come and see it,
Come and have a look!

CHORUS
The elephant man!

NORMAN
(to Joseph)
Merrick!
Do you hear them?
Do you hear your public?
Listen!

JIMMY
(almost whispering)
Elephant Man!

CHORUS
Elephant Man,
Mr. Merrick,
Elephant Man!

NORMAN
Don't get me wrong!
It could all have happened to us.
We can't fight
Against destiny, fate.
Don't get me wrong!
Joseph is not what some people think he is,
The son of a drunken father, or from a family
With some defect.
No!
His father was an honest man.
A simple man, like you and me,
Humble!
And his mother,
His mother,
I dare not speak of her…

JIMMY
She was an angel!
Angel of beauty,
Angel of tenderness
And innocence!

CHORUS
She was an angel,
Angel of beauty,
Angel of tenderness
And innocence!

NORMAN
The mother of Elephant Man
Was an outstanding beauty.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Listen to me,
It's the truth!
Nothing would have happened
If there hadn't been a terrible accident,
During a procession, a march,
A parade of circus animals,
In Leicester high street,
One evening in May,
The thirteenth,
(with lowered voice)
A fateful number, to be sure!

NORMAN
And she it was, Mrs. Merrick
Who was caught up in the panic,
And jostled, knocked down,
Thrown down, trodden underfoot
By a huge elephant!

JIMMY
But in her womb,
For six months…

CHORUS
(Tenors)           For six months…

JIMMY
She'd been carrying
A fine child!

CHORUS
(Basses)           A fine child!
(Tutti)               She was an angel…

NORMAN
Imagine the tragic accident…

CHORUS
Angel of beauty…

NORMAN
The drama of this young mother…

CHORUS
Angel of happiness…

NORMAN
Of this child, to which she can only give…

CHORUS
And of hope.

NORMAN
Give…
Silence
Her soul!

NORMAN
Come right in, ladies and gentlemen!
For tuppence,
Only tuppence,
Come and see
Elephant Man!
The innocent victim of the most terrible
Case of maternal impression known to exist!

The spectators enter the 'hall',
Elephant Man is behind a curtain.
The lights are down. The show.

NORMAN
Ladies and gentlemen!
In the absence of a speaker,
And by your leave,
I would like to present to you
Mr. Joseph Merrick,
The elephant man.
But before that, I beg you
To muster your courage.
You are going to see
The most astounding human being
That has ever lived.
Jimmy!
(Curtain)

Jimmy pulls the red curtain. Elephant Man is sitting, hunched up,
his hands over a benzene oil lamp placed between some bricks.
He is wrapped up in a blanket. He is wearing the trousers of some fat aristocrat,
and slippers that resemble bags.

NORMAN
(theatrical)
On your feet!

CHORUS
On your feet!

NORMAN
On your feet!

CHORUS
On your feet!

Elephant Man rises with enormous difficulty.
The blanket falls as he does so.
He has his back to the audience.

CHORUS
(Women) My God, how horrible!
My God, he's a monster!

BOY 2
Come on, sit and beg!

BOY 1
Who wants some sugar!

BOY 2
Elephant Man!

BOY 1
Who wants some sugar!

NORMAN
Turn round!

CHORUS
(Tutti)               Turn round!
For Elephant Man, turning round is a test of endurance.
He turns very slowly.
(Sopranos)       My God, he's a monster!
(Altos)              An animal!
(Sopranos)       It's revolting!

BOY 1
Who wants some sugar!

CHORUS
(Sopranos)       It's disgusting!
(Altos)              Sickening!
(Women)          It's horrible!

THE MOTHER
(exhausted)
That's enough…

THE YOUNG GIRL
(disgusted)
Enough!

Mother and daughter leave the hall, supported by the husband.

NORMAN
(Authentic text of Tom Norman)
"Ladies and gentlemen!
I ask you not to despise,
Nor to condemn this unusual man
Because of his appearance.
Remember that we do not make ourselves,
And if Joseph were to bleed,
His blood would be red just like yours,
Or mine."

"Do not despise this man,
Who has never accepted the slightest pity,
Or charity,
And who has always worked,
Despite his deformities.
Respect this man,
Who never wanted to beg,
And who had the luck to meet us
When nobody else would even speak to him.
Isn't that so, Mr. Merrick?

JIMMY
(softly)
Elephant Man!

CHORUS
Elephant Man,
Mr. Merrick,
The elephant man!

Jimmy and the spectators applaud.

NORMAN
Thank you!
Thank you for him!

Joseph sits down. Norman brings down the curtain.

 

5 Scene 5
(The Two Boys, The Young Girl
Dr. Treves, Norman, Jimmy, Chorus)

The spectators leave.
Other spectators are waiting for the second performance.

BOYS 1 & 2
He stinks!

BOY 1
His head is gross!

BOYS 1 & 2
He stinks!

BOY 2
He's all spongy!

BOY 1
He's got like a huge lizard on his chest!

BOY 2
His hand's like a real fin!

BOY 2
An elephant's foot!

THE YOUNG GIRL
But the other one is slender,
Like a doll's hand.

BOYS 1 & 2
He grunts, like an elephant trumpeting!

TREVES
Mr. Norman!

NORMAN
Dr. Treves!
You've come to see your protege.

TREVES
No!

NORMAN
You've discovered some treatment,
Dr. Treves?

TREVES
No, Mr. Norman.
Fortunately for you, don't you think?

NORMAN
You'll find one, Doctor, that's for sure!
Medicine always manages to find one.
You'll find one, but too late!
Have you noticed?
You find something, but a bit late!

TREVES
Your cynicism does not impress me,
Mr. Norman!
I know what's hidden within him,
But I have never known
What would help me find it.

Norman turns towards Jimmy.

NORMAN
Jimmy!

JIMMY
Yes, Mr. Norman?

NORMAN
Let them into the hall.
Keep an eye on them.

TREVES
Merrick is very seriously ill.

NORMAN
I've got faith in science, Doctor.

TREVES
Hospitalisation is the answer!

NORMAN
I've never stopped him going to see you!

TREVES
Distinguished people are expecting him.
Eminent specialists!

NORMAN
You should have told me before!
I might have been able to help you.

TREVES
These are leading professors,
Reputable scientists!

NORMAN
I know.

TREVES
They will talk about Merrick.
They will make you very famous!

NORMAN
I can imagine, Dr. Treves,
But sometimes he doesn't even want to listen!

TREVES
I cannot cancel this appointment,
It's impossible!

NORMAN
But I can't oblige, Doctor!

TREVES
Now stop it, Norman!
It all depends on you!
Mr. Merrick cannot
Appreciate his situation.

Norman goes over to Elephant Man.

NORMAN
Joseph, do you want to go to hospital
With your doctor friend?
There are great specialists
Waiting to have a look at you.
It would be a good idea, you know!

Joseph can be seen against the light, in the shadows, hitting the chair
with his healthy arm.

NORMAN
I told you, Doctor!
He's stubborn.
We won't do it!
I know him.
Well, all right,
Go on, Doctor,
Have a go, you might have -
Who knows? - better luck than me.
And give him your card,
He loves cards.

TREVES
I shall do so,
Mr. Norman.

NORMAN
Jimmy!

JIMMY
Yes, Mr. Norman!

NORMAN
Let Dr. Treves in.

JIMMY
Yes, Mr. Norman!

Treves goes up to Elephant Man.

TREVES
(very softly)
Mr. Merrick! We must go to the hospital.
I beg you, Mr. Merrick!
We want to take care of you.
That is why you must come with me.
Don't be afraid, Mr. Merrick!
Were going to see some very great professors.
It's for your own good.
Treves raises his voice.
Come, Mr. Merrick!
Get up, please!
On your feet!
Mr. Merrick
On your feet !

Treves stops at "On your feet!", which is like Norman's.

CHORUS
On your feet!

Treves returns.

NORMAN
I warned you, Doctor!
Joseph will never go back
To your hospital.

TREVES
Why not?

NORMAN
Because you've forgotten
He's a man!
Even he is!
And he got his modesty,
More than others even.
He's very sensitive.
Didn't you know?
Hadn't you noticed,
Dr. Treves?
Joseph Merrick is a man,
And that man does not want
To go to your hospital any more,
Where he feels like cattle,
An animal in a market.
You've stripped him bare,
Examined him,
Photographed him…

TREVES
All clinical examination is like that.
It was nothing special!

NORMAN
I know, it's all for science!
When you're working on someone
You all forget
You are men
As much as we are,
Dr. Treves!
Jimmy!

JIMMY
Yes, Mr. Norman?

NORMAN
These gentlemen from the hospital
Will pay like everyone else!
Mr. Merrick doesn't want
To show himself for free.
You've abused
His generosity well enough!
He needs to earn his living,
To keep his dignity!

TREVES
I beg you,
Do not speak of dignity!
It is you who are exploiting him!

NORMAN
And in the meantime I pay him,
Dr. Treves!

TREVES
Joseph Merrick is ill!
I must take him to hospital.

NORMAN
He can go,
But of his own free will,
Just as he came freely
To join the showmen.
(spoken)
Jimmy!

Norman signals to Jimmy to start the show.

JIMMY
(spoken)
In the absence…

NORMAN
Look here, Dr. Treves!
I share everything with Joseph,
the receipts, no expenses, completely.
Our room has two iron beds.
We live like a couple of right fiances!
I feed him, I wash him,
I sleep next to him,
I eat next to him!

TREVES
Until when, Mr. Norman?

NORMAN
I don't know, Dr. Treves!
I'm just doing
My profession for the time being.

TREVES
It's not a profession!

NORMAN
For you, no.
For us, yes!
You want me to give him up, Doctor?
(to the public)
Who wants to feed him?
Who wants a monster at home?
I'm giving him away, giving him away!
Charity for Elephant Man!
(to Treves)
Take him, Doctor!
(to Elephant Man)
Joseph! Do you want to go to the asylum?
The Doctor has a place for you,
With the incurables!

TREVES
Be quiet!

NORMAN
You want to give your body to science?

TREVES
You make my blood boil!

NORMAN
Yes, my dear Doctor, let your blood boil!
It's a good feeling.
A feeling for the rich!
Our's is humiliation!

TREVES
I've had enough, Mr. Silver King!
Stop this play-acting!
I know what misery is,
I deal with it every day!
I know it well enough!

NORMAN
That's true.
You know it as well as me,
But you've never lived it!

JIMMY
(continuing the show)
Don't despise this man…
(with Norman)
Who has never accepted…
(alone)
The slightest pity…
(with Norman)
Or charity…
(alone)
And who has always worked…
(with Norman)
Despite his deformities…

NORMAN
You think I'm a monster?

TREVES
Perhaps.

NORMAN
You want to exhibit me?
Doctor Frederick Treves:
Showman!
Presenter of novelties!

TREVES
Thank you very much, Norman!
What you do is degrading.
I have a different idea of mankind!
(threatening)
You should go home,
Mr. Norman.
I don't think there will be
Any more performances today!

Treves leaves and signals to the police officers to stop the show.
They make the spectators leave. Norman finds himself alone with
Jimmy and Elephant Man.

NORMAN
You were very good,
Jimmy.
You'll be a showman later on,
Jimmy!
(to Elephant Man)
Joseph,
You heard him.
An artiste!
He does it like an artiste!
Come on, up you get, comrade.
We're going!
Your hood!
You don't want to frighten the gentlemen.
Your coat…
Don't catch cold!
You're coughing!
Do you want me to get the doctor?
Come, my friend, my dear old fellow,
We'll scale the heights of bliss!

Exeunt all three.

- End of Act I -

 


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