Mainstage Production directed by Ann-Marie Pereth and Joseph D. Kucan
Friday, May 3 – Sunday, May 26, 2019
The Usual Place, 100 So. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89101
Horribly, tragically deformed, John Merrick survives by exposing his twisted, disfigured body to the gasps of spectators in a turn-of-the-century freak show. Rescued by a young, ambitious doctor, Merrick takes up residence in the London Hospital, finding comfort and society for the first time in his life. But has he really left the freak show? “If your mercy is so cruel, what do you have for justice?”
Directors’ Note (from the program)
Let’s talk about John.
Only – his name wasn’t John.
Joseph Carey Merrick was born in Leicester, England in 1862. From all reports, Joseph was a normal, healthy, happy baby. But then, at 2 years of age, a slight swelling of his lips and a bony lump stubbornly growing on his forehead set the stage for the grotesque disorder that would define his life and legacy. You’ve seen the pictures; you’ll see them again tonight.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine what the experience of being Joseph Merrick must have been like. Empathy can only get us so far. The daily struggles that confounded him, the torments he endured, far exceed the capacities of our own perspectives. But take away his ailments and what do we have? – A young man no taller than 5′ 2″ who once worked in a tobacco shop rolling cigars; a young man who, as a teenager, sold hats door-to-door; a young man who understood the nature of business and the potential (although limited) value of his own uniqueness. A young man who died alone in his bed at the age of 27. It’s only the unimaginable magnitude of his disorder that makes his life so difficult to fathom. But is it any easier to visualize the personal experiences of being Marilyn Monroe? Or Elvis Presley? Or Abraham Lincoln? In fact, just like these icons, Mr. Merrick has long since entered the modern zeitgeist with a stature that far exceeds the reality of his truly remarkable life. In his quest to simply achieve a normal human existence, he earned his place as one of the true legends of human nature.
JK and A-MP, May 2019