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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 III

3 Scene 1
(Elephant Man, Carr-Gomm, Treves
Mary, Eva Lückes, Chorus of Doctors
The Times Photographer (silent role))

Elephant Man is seated on his chair.
He is wearing a blanket over his shoulders.
His legs and feet are uncovered.
The Chorus of Doctors is in position.
They sing the Hippocratic Oath.

CHORUS
(Tenors) I swear by Apollo, physician,
By Æsculapius, by Hygieia and Panacea,
By all the gods and all the goddesses,
Taking them as witnesses that I shall fulfil,
According to my strength and ability,
The following oath and commitment:
I shall place my master of medicine
on the same level as the author
of my days.
I shall make known our precepts
and the remainder of the instruction to my sons,
to those of my master, and to the disciples,
but to none other.
According to my strength and my judgement,
I shall direct the treatment for those who are ill,
I shall keep them away from evil and injustice.
I shall give poison to no-one,
nor to any woman an abortive pessary.
I shall exercise my art
and shall pass my life
in innocence and purity.
Whatever I see, whatever I hear,
I shall keep silent about what must be kept secret.
If I am faithful to my oath,
may I enjoy
life happily.
If I perjure myself,
May I know a contrary fate.

Eva Lückes and Mary accompany Elephant Man
to centre stage, his back to the audience,
facing the doctors. Merrick is beneath his hospital blanket.

CARR-GOMM
Gentlemen!

An opaque screen between Merrick and the audience.
The Times Photographer takes position
with his bellows and magnesium.

CARR-GOMM, TREVES
The patient who is before you
is about twenty-five years of age.
We do not really know his past,
his antecedents.
We presume he has a congenital disease…

CARR-GOMM
…which has never been described,
as it appears, in clinical history.

TREVES
First of all I should like to make clear
that his is not the disease
known as elephantiasis.
As for the hypothesis that this could be
a unique case of maternal impression,
modern science proves to us the contrary.

Treves looks at Joseph Merrick and Eva Lückes.
He does not dare ask Merrick to rise.
Recall of the "On your feet" theme from Act 1, Scene 4.
Eva Lückes and Mary help Elephant Man to rise.
Eva Lückes removes the blanket that has been covering him. Elephant Man leans on his chair. Merrick is naked, his back turned, behind the screen,
a barely perceptible form. The photographer sets up the photograph.
He is under his black cloth.
While the photograph is being taken, projection, by a period magic lantern, of genuine grey photographs, a bit fuzzy, and perhaps the wrong way round, like the vision of the photographer in his apparatus.

TREVES
As you can imagine,
this is a syndrome.
An association comprising
hypertrophy of the skin
and important exostosis
with osseous distortions.

CHORUS
Hypertrophy…
Exostosis…

TREVES
Only the left arm of the patient is normal,
together with the penis and the scrotum.
This left arm is of great delicacy,
which might lead us to suppose
a sudden interruption of growth.
We can readily perceive
this large pendulous mass,
the hypertrophy of the skin,
of the Molluscum Pendulum type.

CHORUS
Molluscum…
Pendulum…

TREVES
Asymmetric exostosis,
on the forehead and occiput,
papillomatosis,
extensive, violaceous brown.

CHORUS
Violaceous papillomatosis…
Asymmetric exostosis…

Treves looks at Merrick, who turns round,
his back to the doctors, still leaning on his chair.

TREVES
Upon the main part of the back
we can see a thickening of the skin,
of the subcutaneous tissue,
and we may class these phenomena
among the descriptions of dermatolysis
or indeed pachydermatocœle.
We have before us
an incomprehensible anomaly.

CHORUS
Exostosis, hypertrophy…
Pachydermatocœle…

Eva Lückes covers Merrick with the blanket.
She takes him into the wings.
The Photographer, perhaps after taking a shot of Treves
and Carr-Gomm, dismantles his apparatus.
The doctors leave, singing the Hippocratic Oath.

CHORUS (Tenors)
I swear by Apollo, physician,
By Æsculapius, by Hygieia and Panacea,
By all the gods and all the goddesses,
Taking them as witnesses that I shall fulfil,
According to my strength and ability,
The following oath and commitment:
I shall place my master of medicine
on the same level as the author
of my days.
I shall make known our precepts
and the remainder of the instruction to my sons,
to those of my master, and to the disciples,
but to none other.
According to my strength and my judgement,
I shall direct the treatment for those who are ill,
I shall keep them away from evil and injustice.

Mary remains alone on stage, rigid, horrified by what she has just seen.

 

4 Scene 2
(Elephant Man, Mary, Eva Lückes)

Eva Lückes comes back slowly on stage.
She looks at Mary in silence.

EVA LÜCKES
It was for science,
Mary, for his future.
For his future,
and that of others!

EVA LÜCKES
Our's is the nursing profession.
Ill people are for us patients.
They must never be anything but patients.
Mary remains silent, as though absent.

EVA LÜCKES
You'll see, in time.
You never forget they are men.
It is ourselves we forget,
What we were and what we are.
Our mission is to serve,
Without pride and without vanity,
Not even that of healing sometimes.
Pause.
Mary, don't become
Like all those carers I've seen go off
Hugging their patients,
Confusing joy and sorrow,
Like those women I've seen smile
To be the other person much more than themselves.
Mary, remain who you are!

Elephant Man comes back on stage.
He limps, dragging his chair behind him.
Exit Eva Lückes, leaving Mary and Elephant Man alone.
Mary takes out a book from beneath her blouse and gives it to Elephant Man.

ELEPHANT MAN
Jane Austen!
I love Jane Austen.
Oh, thank you!
Thank you, you are very kind.

MARY
Yes, I am kind…

Elephant Man starts to read, sitting on the stage.
Mary looks at him for a while, then leaves.

 

5 Scene 3
(Elephant Man, Dr. Treves)

Treves discovers Elephant Man reading, alone on stage, another Elephant Man, whom he had never imagined.

ELEPHANT MAN
I can write too!

Treves is still silent, motionless.
Elephant Man picks up the book on his knees.

ELEPHANT MAN
Do you like poetry?
Isaac Watts!
"If I could reach from pole to pole,
Or grasp the ocean with a span,
I would be measured by the soul.
The mind's the standard of the man."

Treves does not reply.

ELEPHANT MAN
You really impressed them.
It was a great success, Dr. Treves!
It was a fine presentation,
And really very interesting.
It taught me something.
I love to learn things.
Pause.

TREVES
How are you feeling?

ELEPHANT MAN
I am as happy as my situation
allows me to be.
Before, I never knew
What calm and repose meant.
You are going to keep me, Doctor?

TREVES
I shall do my utmost, Mr. Merrick,
But I cannot guarantee it.

ELEPHANT MAN
Doctor…
I don't want to be helped.
I don't want to go back
to public welfare.

Pause.
Elephant Man resumes.

ELEPHANT MAN
Perhaps you could recommend me to
an institute for the blind,
Where I could at last be free,
Without anyone looking at me.
They might even envy me!
You can't imagine
how ashamed I feel to look the way I do.
But soon I shall be able to work again.
Promise me!
In a lighthouse perhaps,
Away from other folk,
Far from the curious,
In a place that at long last belongs to me.
I've always dreamed of having a house…

Treves does not reply. He is perturbed. Then he pulls
himself together and becomes a doctor once more.

TREVES
Mr. Merrick,
Do you recall always being ill?

ELEPHANT MAN
As a child my skin was not so rough,
though already thick.

TREVES
Do you know, in your family,
of other cases of malformation?

ELEPHANT MAN
(lying)
No.

TREVES
You have brothers and sisters?

ELEPHANT MAN
No.
(lying)
It's strange, you see,
for my mother was so beautiful,
So beautiful!
It was hard for me
to be deprived of her,
deprived of my childhood.
She was the only person
who really loved me.

(Reprise of Act 1, Scene 4)
"She was an angel,
Angel of beauty,
Angel of tenderness
And innocence!"
As he finishes singing, Elephant Man coughs.

TREVES
Are you coughing?

ELEPHANT MAN
A bit.
Bronchitis…

Treves sounds Merrick.
He discovers the first indications of a weak heart.

TREVES
(lying)
It is nothing.

ELEPHANT MAN
Doctor…

TREVES
Mr. Merrick…
Pause.
Elephant Man has not dared to ask the crucial question.
He pulls himself together and changes the subject.

ELEPHANT MAN
You did not answer!
Do you like poetry?

TREVES
(expecting a different question)
Yes, Mr. Merrick.

ELEPHANT MAN
I do too, I even sometimes
write a bit of poetry myself.
"It's true my face is something odd,
But blaming me is blaming God.
Could I create myself anew,
I would not fail in pleasing you."
Pause.

TREVES
Mr. Merrick,
Why did you not mention it
until now?

ELEPHANT MAN
Because you never came to see me
when I was alone, Doctor.

Carr-Gomm arrives.
Exit Elephant Man, dragging his chair behind him, like a broken toy.

 

6 Scene 4
(Eva Lückes, Treves, Carr-Gomm
The Times Journalist (silent role)
The Committee (6 Basses from the Chorus)
Mary)

THE COMMITTEE
Why should we do
what we have never done
for any man?
Why should we do
what we have never done
for anyone?

Carr-Gomm goes over to Treves.

CARR-GOMM
Dr. Treves,
I have just agreed to sign a letter
which will appear in The Times,
As you desired.

TREVES
Thank you.

CARR-GOMM
Decidedly, the press has changed.
One has not to convince
but to move!

THE COMMITTEE
Why should we do
what we have never done
for any man?
Why should we do
what we have never done
for anyone?

CARR-GOMM
We shall even solicit
the public, have them participate!
Wait for their comments
on the one true question:
"What should we do with Mr. Merrick?".

The Journalist observes the Committee,
Treves and Carr-Gomm.

TREVES
It must be accepted
by his fellow creatures:
Mr. Merrick is of superior intelligence.

CARR-GOMM
I thought you considered him
a primitive?

TREVES
I was wrong,
Mr. Carr-Gomm. I was wrong.

CARR-GOMM
What is better, Doctor,
A medical error,
Or a human error?

THE COMMITTEE
Why should we solicit
for other than medical reasons?.
Why should we make a claim
like some common retailer?

TREVES
Joseph Merrick will not live
much longer.
He presents all the symptoms
of cardiac deficiency.

Carr-Gomm looks at Treves.
Then alone, as though ignoring Treves.

CARR-GOMM
So we shall inaugurate
this new publicity campaign!
A grand premiere for the Hospital,
A grand premiere for Medicine!
You see, Mr. Treves,
We shall progress from charity
to the illusion of solidarity.

TREVES
Do you regret it?

CARR-GOMM
Don't worry.
Past a certain age
one only regrets one's youth!
(as he leaves Treves)
Don't worry,
We shall obtain bequests.
Monsters attract us,
They attract us all!

Exit Carr-Gomm.

THE COMMITTEE
Why must we forget
our sole mission
which is hope?
Why should we do
what we have never done
for anyone?

Exit the Committee.
Treves remains alone for a moment with the Journalist,
who looks at him, and Eva Lückes, immobile.
Exit Treves in turn.

EVA LÜCKES
Mary!

Mary comes on stage with Elephant Man who is limping.
The Journalist, immobile, watches them.

EVA LÜCKES
This gentleman is a journalist for The Times.

MARY
(coldly)
Sir…

Elephant Man and the Journalist look at each other.
Then Elephant Man turns his back on him.
He seems absent, as though in another world.
His one healthy hand is trembling nervously.
Exit the Journalist, followed by Eva Lückes.
Elephant Man and Mary are left alone.

7 Scene 5
(Elephant Man, Mary)

ELEPHANT MAN
It's a fine subject,
isn't it, Miss Mary?
A beautiful story.
The man who cannot go out
except on moonless nights.
The man so terrifying
that women flee before him.
The unhappy Elephant Man!
Poor Joseph Carey Merrick!
Abandoned, exiled in Belgium,
Robbed, dispossessed, by a showman,
a dilettante…
It's a beautiful story,
isn't it, Miss Mary?
A beautiful story,
especially when it's not about yourself.

MARY
This gentlemen came to help you,
So we can at last keep you,
So you won't be worried any more,
not knowing where you'll be placed.

ELEPHANT MAN
(vehement)
I do not want my story to be told,
I do not  want to be imagined!
I will not allow anyone to imagine me,
to tell my story!
You decide what I am
without really trying to get to know me.
I have no words any more,
only those of other people,
not the slightest emotion
which is not yours first.
I can only close
my hands to pray,
my eyes to cry…

MARY
Why do you not want to know
what you are for me?

ELEPHANT MAN
Why do you not want to hear anything that I say?
I can only close
my eyes to cry.

MARY
Why will you not accept
that I too am here?

ELEPHANT MAN
Leave me alone in my silence.
I have nothing to give you.
Everything has been stolen,
My life, my past.
I have no intimacy any more.
I can hope for nothing,
Except perhaps to abandon myself…

MARY
No,
You don't have the right!
It's not true…
You have given me something.

ELEPHANT MAN
I have given nothing.

MARY
Everything you don't know,
Everything you don't see!
You have taught me…

ELEPHANT MAN
No, please!

MARY
… everything I was not.
Everything that happens to me,
Doesn't come just from me.
But I don't know the words
that will let me say it…

Elephant Man limps over to Mary.
With his healthy hand, he touches her face as a blind-man would, then the shoulders and the bosom. Then he stops, turns away from Mary and bursts into tears.
Mary remains motionless.

ELEPHANT MAN
(without looking at her)
I can cry…
But I cannot smile.

Lights down gradually.

 


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9:08:56 AM, 21 August 2014
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