The Elephant Man

Jamie Beddard as Joseph Merrick; in costume wearing black trousers, white open casual shirt and braces. Sat in front of an old hospital screen curtain.

An exciting new collaboration between Bristol Old Vic, Diverse City and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Diverse City worked in collaboration with Bristol Old Vic and Bristol OId Vic Theatre School to create improved access for artists and audiences as part of a new production of The Elephant Man.

“Over the last two years we have been thrilled by the reinvigoration of the relationship between Bristol Old Vic and its sister company the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
To be now in a position to develop this further by working with the incredible Diverse City is very special.
Their brilliant and enlightening work with us so far has helped us to change the way we think about accessibility and integration on stage and off.”

Emma Stenning, Chief Executive, Bristol Old Vic

Diverse City worked with the next generation of actors and theatre professionals, as part of our commitment to diversify performing arts training and increase inclusive practice. Jamie Beddard (Diverse City) stared as Joseph Merrick and Hannah Treadaway, (Coach, Theatre Director and Writer) also offered students and production team insights and support in rehearsal.

“This is a really exciting opportunity to be working with drama school graduates and hopefully, by working with someone like me, it will normalise inclusion and exciting casting.
It’s also a really iconic part as a disabled performer.
In the past, the role of Joseph Merrick has been performed by non-disabled actors, which is really bizarre. It’s time to reclaim the Elephant Man”

Jamie Beddard, Co-Artist Director, Diverse City

The Show

Joseph Merrick is ‘The Elephant Man’. The sordid spectacle of a travelling freak show, he moves from city to city, mercilessly put on display to the horrified delight of Victorian audiences. A London surgeon also takes a keen interest, but is soon faced with a moral dilemma – to help Merrick or to use him to advance his scientific career?

Inspired by the extraordinary life of a man with a physical disfigurement, Bernard Pomerance’s multi-award-winning play explores changes in perception. Merrick’s story was also recognised in David Lynch’s film starring John Hurt.

All performances of The Elephant Man production were fully captioned, with audio described, BSL and relaxed performances scheduled throughout the run from June 26th to July 7th 2018.

Click here to read more about the show, creative processes and view rehearsal photos.

Listen to Jamie Beddard and Becky Chapman from Diverse City, in conversation with Bristol Old Vic Theatre Club below, or access the full transcript of the interview here.


“I have seen a number of productions of ‘The Elephant Man’ and, indeed, appeared in it myself, but I cannot recall such a perfectly presented, powerful and sensitive one.”

Cormac Richards, ReviewsGate,?????

“Directors and casting directors should be flocking to the Bristol Old Vic to rethink. Here is Beddard, centre stage and driving along this play as powerfully as any leading actor out there. It’s a powerful opening up of what the theatre could and should be.”

Kris Hallett, What’s On Stage, ????

“What’s thrown into sharper relief are attitudes to disability, and to “otherness” of all kinds: the awkwardness, the incomprehension, the blind prejudice and sometimes unintentional cruelty; the tendency to stare.”

Sam Marlowe, The Times, ???

UK Theatre Web, ?????

The Reviews Hub, ????


Red background with white text: Bristol Old VicBristol Old Vic Theatre School (logo)


A Bristol Old Vic, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Diverse City collaboration.
This amateur production of The Elephant Man is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, LTD.
Images below ©Mark Douet