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George Mason High School The Elephant Man

By • May 8th, 2012 • Category: Cappies

A brutally disfigured man cowers sullenly on a bustling stage, proclaiming his normalcy by shouting “I am not an animal, I am a human being!” to a heartbreakingly merciless crowd. The pain inside his voice during this blatant display of misery explains it all: this saddened outcast is just searching for a little understanding and compassion from the world around him. In George Mason High School’s gripping production of The Elephant Man, pressing subjects such as loneliness and societal abandonment are explored with enormous depth and emotional resonance, riveting the audience and touching the hearts of all who attended.

Written by renowned dramatist Bernard Pomerance and loosely based on the life of an actual late 19th Century medical marvel, The Elephant Man chronicles the struggles of John Merrick, an extremely deformed young man who is discovered in a freak show, and taken in by a generous British doctor named Frederick Treeves. While at Treeves’ hospital, Merrick begins an infatuation with a dashing actress, Mrs. Kendall, and slowly begins to come to terms with his weakening illness. This intense work was the recipient of the 1979 Tony Award for Best Play, and was subsequently made into a hugely successful film adaptation in 1982.

Student directors Bryan Ward and Rebecca Thackery, both of whom doubled as talented actors, gave this timeless tale of “singular and exceptional misfortune” a fresh sense of potency, dealing with dark subject matter with maturity, and creating some surprisingly humorous moments along the way. They both incorporated interesting new features such as artful scene transitions and overt symbolism that culminated into a commendably staged production.

Leading this captivating show was Sean Driggers as the endearing protagonist John Merrick. Driggers had a tremendously difficult role to play, and compensated for the lack of facial prosthetics by using convincing physicality like a debilitating limp and a heavy lisp. Drigger’s emotional connection with his character was extremely apparent, and his representation of Merrick’s instinctive yearning for normality was brilliantly executed and strikingly palpable. Drigger’s stunning characterization was paired beautifully by Kiki Skotte, as the understanding woman in Merrick’s life, Mrs. Kendall. The unlikely friendship and mutual respect for one another was splendidly portrayed, and without a doubt was one of the most outstandingly implemented parts of the show.

Another excellent principal performance came from Sam Blagg, as the guiding force in Merrick’s life, Dr. Frederick Treeves. Blagg’s stimulating temperament, unassuming cadence, and exciting actions like an emotional unraveling towards the end of the show made him a very fascinating actor to watch. Blagg’s venerable representation was very befitting and not to be forgotten.

A plethora of remarkable technical aspects were presented in this aesthetically pleasing show. Special effects like projections of photos from the late 1800’s on the cyclorama and spontaneous bursts of ominous fog created an exhilarating vibe in the performance. Sounds such as a pulsing heartbeats and pounding rain added dramatic tension to titillating scenes, and detailed, time-period appropriate attire such as evening gowns and three-piece suits supplemented authentic panache to the show.

Overall, impressive acting skills and innovative technical features such as sound and special effects amounted to a thrilling production. George Mason High School’s touching rendition of The Elephant Man spoke volumes on the importance of human contact, and proves that the true content of one’s character can be found layers underneath an often misleading exterior; you’ve just got to appreciate the true beauty within.

by Julian Sanchez of Westfield High School

Photo Gallery

Sean Driggers, Alexa Parsons, Samuel Blagg Sean Driggers, Kiki Skotte, Samuel Blagg
Sean Driggers, Alexa Parsons, Samuel Blagg
Sean Driggers, Kiki Skotte, Samuel Blagg
Daria Butler, Joseph Warren, Samuel Blagg, Bryan Ward, Alissa Forbes, Elizabeth Seibel, Sean Driggers Sean Driggers and ensemble (in silhouette)
Daria Butler, Joseph Warren, Samuel Blagg, Bryan Ward, Alissa Forbes, Elizabeth Seibel, Sean Driggers
Sean Driggers and ensemble (in silhouette)

Photos provided by George Mason High School

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