This is a very special post which I was asked to publish as part of the Charlie Chaplin Blogathon which Christina Wehner and I have been hosting over the weekend. Both of the articles were written by an enthusiastic young fan of Chaplin who approaches Chaplin’s art from a literary point of view. If you scroll down you can read a short extract from his play whose exciting plot focuses on the most important events of Chaplin’s life.
Sem Donkers The Thousand Gears named Chaplin
The Little Tramp runs across the road. Suddenly he is driven over by a raging Rolls Royce. He gets up, picks up a brush, cleans his clothes and goes on. Suddenly he is again driven over by a Rolls Royce. “Akward ass!” shouts Charlie. He stands up, patches his clothes again and continues.
Americans were greatly appreciated by the short Chaplin films in the nickelodeons. Always when they had a hard time, they escaped to the small movie theaters to see the light flicker on the screen. The title appears; “Charlie Chaplin in – The Rink”. Roar of laughter for a little man who flirts with a girl, and gives the big bad guy a kick in his stomach. On the rink.
But the French took a different story from Chaplin’s films. Namely a mechanically working intellectual. The Tramp was a machine. A human body full of gears and conveyor belts that produced one gag after another. Chaplin was a machine man in France. An invention of Hannah Hill and Charles Chaplin Sr, named Charlot.
The Russians thought almost the same. Chaplin was also a machine man for them. Whenever. At any time. Russia was possessed by Chaplin. Around 1925 a film performance is given in a big city on the Volkhov. The films were projected onto a series of clouds. Some westerns were shown, but people did not show up. A new Chaplin film was announced. They wanted to see them. ‘Charlie at the Komsomol’, a Russian story. With scenes from Essanay and Mutual films that were edited into a story that took place at the Komsomol. The title appeared on the screen. Just as the movie started, airplanes appeared. Gas. Bombs. Everywhere. An attack! People fell through the gas, the technician doesn’t see something. People will be drunk. ‘Gas!’ it sounds everywhere. But as soon as the technician understands what is going on, he turns the pendulum faster. People open their eyes, and see the last thing they will ever see. Charlot.
Years later … What will become the movie after Modern Times? A talkie, that’s clear. But what for one? Chaplin already knows. The machine man Charlot disappears and makes room for a new hero. Strangely enough another French hero. Napoleon. ‘Napoleon’s return from St. Helena’, Chaplin’s new masterpiece, and farewell to the gears.
A STAGE PLAY BY SEM DONKERS
If you want to peform this play, contact Sem Donkers or Little Bits of Classics.
We see the facade of the Keystone Studios. Charlie is outside with his case. He is walking around the Studios. Sennett enters.
SENNETT – Spy?
CHARLIE – No. Charles Chaplin.
SENNETT – Chaplin? Are you that guy who played the drunk in New York?
CHARLIE – Right. I am.
SENNETT – Why did you run away?
CHARLIE – Umm… What do you expect I’m gonna say?
SENNETT – An awnser.
CHARLIE – Oh. Well… I was afraid.
SENNETT – Of what?
CHARLIE – You can better ask: “of who?”, sir.
SENNETT – Come on. I can’t tittle-tattle with you a whole day!
CHARLIE – Of the films.
SENNETT – Why?
CHARLIE – I was afraid I had no talent for it.
SENNETT – Why you think that? You was brilliant in NYC!
CHARLIE – Really? Thanks, Mr. Sennutt.
SENNETT – It’s Sennett.
CHARLIE – Sennatt?
SENNETT – No.
CHARLIE – Sorry. I will not do that again.
SENNETT – Fine, come inside, we’re many days behind so…
CHARLIE – Where’s the script?
SENNETT – We don’t have any screenplay, kid, nothing. Improvise the gags!
CHARLIE – I don’t know if I can improvise gags…
SENNETT – You was playing the best drunk ever! You can do it.
Charlie and Sennett out.