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Tonight...Charlie Chaplin

Gillian Plowman

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Full Length Play

10m, 9f

ISBN: 9780573112607

“Even in the orphanage, I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. I had to feel the exuberance that comes from utter confidence in myself. Without it you go down to defeat”

It is 1959. Charles Chaplin is 70 years old, talking across the years to the young Charlie Chaplin – the Little Tramp who was never allowed to speak in the silent movies. Now he has a voice, confronting his older self and revealing the passions and torments that formed his life.

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Description | Characters | Author | Reviews


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Full Length Play



Unit Set/Multiple Settings, Bare Stage/Simple Set

Period Costumes

Charlie Chaplin was the very first icon of the silver screen and is one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood. But what of the man behind the moustache? The director holding the camera as well as acting in front of it? The cockney boy beneath the stage make-up? Born into poverty and hardship and in the absence of his father, he spent most of his childhood in and out of orphanages and workhouses.

Charlie survived by making himself invulnerable. This exuberance later became part of his screen persona. The Little Tramp always picks himself up and walks jauntily into the distance.

I have always loved Charlie Chaplin, in particular the Little Tramp persona, so much of which was based on his early poverty-stricken life in London, a life to which I can trace my own roots - rags to riches is a persuasive theme!  Creating a scenario whereby the Little Tramp can speak to his older self enabled me to explore the themes of hope and nostalgia in a typically Chaplinesque, exuberant way! - Gillian Plowman

'It's funny, fast moving, completely correct as far as the facts go' - Chaplin Office


10m, 9f


Ensemble cast, Reduced casting (Doubling Possible), Flexible casting, Room for Extras

CHARLIE CHAPLIN The Little Tramp. Small, athletic, black curly hair. Plays five to thirty five years. London born.
CHAPLIN AT 70 Smart-suited, urbane. Same height as Charlie. London still in the man.
HANNAH CHAPLIN Plays twenty to fifty. Beautiful music hall singer, crumbling to premature old age. London born but loves to speak well.
SYDNEY CHAPLIN Four years older than Charlie. Taller. Plays nine to forty. London born.
MINNIE CHAPLIN Supportive wife of Sydney, admirer of Charlie. London born and tower of strength. Twenties/thirties.
HETTY KELLY English fifteen-year-old dancer. Shy. Charlie’s first love.
MILDRED HARRIS Pretty American sixteen-year-old. Charlie’s first wife.
LITA GREY Ambitious sixteen-year-old American actress. Charlie’s next wife.
JOHN WILLIE JACKSON Expansive theatrical entrepreneur, manager of The Eight Lancashire Lads.
FRED KARNO Middle-aged, ebullient founder of Fred Karno’s circus, originally from Devon, widely-travelled.
DIVORCE LAWYER Middle-aged, American, slick.
DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS Tall and handsome American film star.
HARRY WELDON Big, blustery London music hall comedian.
MABEL NORMAND Vivacious, bossy, young American film star, partner to Mack Sennett. Twenty/thirty.
EDNA PURVIANCE Intelligent, beautiful American film actress. Twenties/thirties.
MARY PICKFORD America’s sweetheart. Young, pretty, sweet and caring. Curls. Partner of Douglas Fairbanks.
PAULETTE GODDARD Beautiful, brunette American film star. Twenty two.
HENRY LEHRMAN Bespectacled brusque American film director.
AL JOLSON Glamorous and famous /American singer. Thirties.
MUSIC HALL ARTIST Beautiful female singer of note.
MACK SENNETT Good-looking successful film producer. Thirties

Gillian Plowman

Gillian won the Verity Bargate award in 1988 with Me and My Friend, a poignantly funny play about the release of four patients from a psychiatric hospital into the community. It was first produced at the Soho Poly Theatre in 1990 and at the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1992, directed by Ian Rickson. The Purity Game formed part of the opening season of Chichester’s Minerva Theatre Studio in ... view full profile

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Because we know every theatre maker and reader is different, we now offer a choice of formats to suit the way you work 


Our regular paperback book at our regular size, perfect if you like to keep things classic

The same size as the Standard Edition, but with a sturdy, easy-to-fold, easy-to-hold, spiral-bound spine. Ideal for use in rehearsal

A4 size and spiral-bound, with larger text and a blank page for notes opposite every page. Perfect for technical and directing use