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Friday, Sept. 28, 2007

TIP grabs 'The Elephant Man' by the tusks


Tokyo International Players is an English-language theater troupe run by volunteers that evolved from the Tokyo Dramatic and Musical Association, formed at the Imperial Hotel on Feb. 10, 1896.

At that time, one of its founders, Baroness Albert d'Anethan, wrote of her excitement about being involved in theater in a foreign country, saying on Nov. 7 of that year, "Last night was the first performance of the Amateur Dramatic Society. The play was 'A Lesson in Love.' I was the first character in the scene, . . . (but) just two minutes before the curtain was due to go up, the whole of the electric light system in both the hall and stage failed. The lights had been behaving somewhat erratically before this, so Mr. Conder, the stage manager, had made every arrangement for illuminating the stage by candles so that during the whole of the first performance the audience remained in darkness while the stage was only partially lighted."

TIP's activities were suspended during World War II until 1949. Since then, it has presented Western plays and musicals by foreign residents, with repertoire ranging from Shakespeare to Tom Stoppard. This time, TIP tackles Brooklyn-born Bernard Pomerance's 1979 Tony Award-winning play, "The Elephant Man."

Based on a true story, it tells the tale of Joseph Merrick, who was born so deformed that he was displayed for profit in freak shows in Victorian England. However, he was freed from that life by Dr. Frederick Treves, who adopted him for his research and let him stay at his London home. Treves also introduced him to high society and tried to give him a normal human life. All looked set fair for Merrick, but in the end, reality was not to be so sweet.

"The Elephant Man" runs Oct. 12-14 at Shinjuku Sun Mall Theater, a 5-min. walk from Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station on the Marunouchi Subway Line. Tickets are ¥4,000 (students ¥2,500). For more details, call Theatre Cocoon on (03) 3411-2383 or visit www.tokyoplayers.org.



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