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Elephant Man’s Denver debut 35 years ago today

 
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MessagePosté le: Mar 11 Aoû - 13:04 (2015)    Sujet du message: Elephant Man’s Denver debut 35 years ago today Répondre en citant





29 JULY 2015

Elephant Man’s Denver debut 35 years ago today

“I looked and frowned and the monster was me”

Here’s a piece provided by BowieNetter Spaceface regarding Bowie’s debut in his first legitimate theatrical performance.

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Today is the 35th anniversary of David Bowie’s debut as The Elephant Man in the stage play of the same name. The show ran for just six days in Denver from July 29 to August 3 at the Denver Centre of Performing Arts, followed by a further three weeks in Chicago before transferring to a hugely successful three month run at The Booth Theatre on Broadway in New York.

The real Elephant Man, John Merrick was born in South London in the 1860s and died in 1884 at the age of 27. He suffered appalling physical disabilities and deformities, due mainly to the medical condition Neurofibromatosis. What made him unique was his wit and ability to charm, despite his terrible appearance. The play tells the story of how he was rescued by a compassionate doctor and became quite famous and well liked in high society.

David’s hugely innovative interpretation of the role used no make-up or prosthetics. Instead, drawing on his training as a mime artist, he contorted his body into unlikely shapes to give the effect of profound disability. At a dress rehearsal in the Booth Theatre, even the stage hands burst into spontaneous applause at his remarkable performance.

At the time, Bowie told the Daily Mirror : “It is undoubtedly the biggest single challenge of my career. Going onto Broadway is the fulfilment of a great dream.”

That challenge was more than met, judging by the deluge of rave reviews at the time. Here are some extracts:

    “David… won the respect of both the critics and the audience” – Record Mirror

    “shockingly good” – New York Post

    “piercing and haunted” – New York Daily News

    “preternaturally wise” – New York Times

    “wordless and unmoving, he is nevertheless an electric presence.” – Rolling Stone

    “Bowie.. had the audience.. in the palm of his hand.” – BBC

    “Exquisite stillness and physical precision” – Theatre Magazine

    “commands the stage” – Village Voice


Watch Tim Rice’s 1980 interview with David, which contains some video clips from the play itself.

Also worth a look is Kathryn Johnson, Assistant Curator of the 'David Bowie is…' London exhibition, speaking about David Bowie's only stage role. You can also see his costume.

davidbowie.com


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