If you have ever seen the play version of Elephant Man (I never could bring myself to see the movie version, for obvious reasons), the actor who plays the Elephant Man (John Merrick) does not wear any makeup. It’s all done with voice and posture and movement. A deliberate choice on the part of the original director to allow the audience to see the human being beneath the monster.
And quite effective, I might add. I saw it with Mark Hamil, who was magnificent. And yet, while everyone else in the group marveled at how they truly could see him as a human being, I knew better. I knew that it was just an actor, playing a part. And when the theater went dark, he changed back into his street clothes and was a human being, like everyone else.
Just. Like. Everyone. Else.
Just like everyone Not Me.
“I am am not a Monster!” The Elephant Man yells at one of the most climactic scenes.
Easy, easy words when you get to tuck them away at the end of the evening until the next night’s performance. Less so when they start to become your reality, not only to everyone else, but to yourself in the mirror.
Yes, I look like a monster. I will not hide my monstrosity. I cannot. Don’t ask me to do so, just to ease your mind.
But I am also a human being.
See me as a monster, and that is all I shall ever be.
See me as a human being, and the world just got a bit smaller.