The Elephant Man playwright dies

Bernard Pomerance, the American playwright and poet who wrote the Tony Award winning play The Elephant Man, died at his home in Galisteo, New Mexico on the morning of Saturday, August 26, 2017.

The death was confirmed by his long time agent Alan Brodie. The cause of death was complications from cancer.

Bernard Kline Pomerance was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1940. He studied at the University of Chicago before moving to London in 1968. His first play, High in Vietnam, Hot Damn, was directed by Roland Rees with whom he went on (together with David Aukin) to form the Theatre company Foco Novo in 1972 which was at the forefront of British Theatre in the 1970s and 80s.

Mr Pomerance first wrote The Elephant Man for Foco Novo premiering at Hampstead Theatre in 1977 and the play went on to become one of the most successful plays to ever come out of London theatre and was produced around the world. The play opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre in 1979 and it went on to play 916 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Play.

The leading role of John Merrick has been played by numerous leading actors over the years including David Schofield (who originated the role at Hampstead and in the 1980 production at the National Theatre) Philip Anglim, David Bowie, Billy Crudup and most recently Bradley Cooper who starred in the play’s last revival in 2015 at the Booth Theatre in New York and at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London the next year.

Mr Pomerance other plays included  Quantrill in Lawrence produced at the ICA London in 1981,  Melons produced at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984 an adaptation of Brecht’s A Man’s A Man which toured the UK and Someone Else is Still Someone at the Bush Theatre. Grove Press published a collection of his plays in 2001. His long form poem “We Need to Dream All This Again” was published by Penguin in 1988. At the time of his death, Mr. Pomerance was preparing new productions of his plays: Miranda and Spinoff.

Bernard Pomerance was the son of  Harriet Kline (an Archeologist and artist)  and Leon Pomerance.( an Archeologist)

He first married Sally Belfrage in 1965 (divorced 1983) with whom he had two children Moby and Eve who survive him along with his two grandchildren William Mossek and Gabriel Pomerance and a brother Michael. His wife, Evelyn Franceschi whom he married in 2008 died in 2015.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Christus St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center in Santa Fe NM

A memorial service will be planned in his hometown of Galisteo NM and in New York and London.

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