Education Feature: Students stage ‘Elephant Man’

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

As soon as Clovis High School junior Kyree McField sheds her role as Ross in the production of “The Elephant Man,” she jumps into another role back stage, costume manager.

McField’s dual roles on and off stage is typical of most students in the play because there aren’t enough students, CHS theater teacher Jennifer Metzger said.

“A lot of them are doubled up, they have parts on stage, but also helping as well,” she said. “So a lot of the kids, even though they have a role on the stage, they’re still helping to collect props.”

The high school’s advanced theater class will perform “The Elephant Man,” a stage play based on the life of Joseph Carrey Merrick, who suffered from elephantiasis and made a living as a sideshow attraction.

“I think the production’s really cool this year, I think it brought out a lot of sophistication to this class,” McField said.

McField, who has performed in plays since the fourth grade, said she also has to do quick repairs on costumes.

“I have to run back there and make sure everyone who needs to change into another costume is in that next costume and nobody’s ripped anything, and if they have, I need to do a quick stitch,” she said.

A.J. Tyler performs in prosthetic masks that show Merrick’s condition made by Hollywood special effects artist Kevin Brennan, who has done special effects and make up for movies such as “An American Werewolf in London,” “Ghostbusters” and “Van Helsing.”

As the head publicity person for the show, he’s planned to make an appearance at a local radio station with the mask on to promote the show. He’s also informed people about Merrick to promote the show.

“By portraying the character, John Merrick, from the play, in real life, they can kind of get a sense of how he is,” said Tyler, who is performing a lead role for the second time. “They ask me for lines and I’ll give them a couple of lines and tell them what the play is about because not a lot of people know about who John Merrick is exactly.”

What: The Elephant Man
Who: Clovis High advanced theater class
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7-9
Where: Lyceum Theater