Showing posts with label Circle Theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Circle Theater. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chaplin directing the Circle Theater players in Caligula, 1949

According to the theater group's founder, Jerry Epstein, the pillar in the background in the top photo was a prop from The Great Dictator. See another photo here.

Many thanks to Eduardo Orenstein for sharing these rare photos with me.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Actor Marvin Kaplan on Charlie Chaplin

In this recent interview, 89-year-old Kaplan, best known for It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World & the sitcom Alice, discusses meeting Chaplin in the late 1940s when he (Chaplin) was directing the play "Rain" for the Circle Theater & Kaplan was the stage manager.

Remembers Kaplan: "One time he did a handstand on a table--he was around 60 at the time!"

Read more here:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chaplin watches a Circle Theater performance of The Doctor In Spite Of Himself

Charlie was closely associated with the Circle Theater in the late 1940s—directing plays (without credit) and allowing access to props from his movies. Charlie’s son, Sydney, was one of its founding members (Charlie, Jr. was also a member for a brief time).

Kathleen Freeman is addressing the audience, which includes such familiar faces as:
Elizabeth Taylor (front row, far right), Roddy McDowell is next to Taylor, Gene Tierney
 is seated between Charlie and Oona. Constance Collier is on Oona's left.
Co-founder of the Circle Theater, Jerry Epstein, is on Charlie's right. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chaplin & The Circle

In the late 1940s, Chaplin directed a series of plays for the Circle Theater in Los Angeles. The theater was founded by a group of students from UCLA including Charlie’s son Sydney, Jerry Epstein, & actor William Schallert (Charlie Chaplin, Jr. was also a Circle player for a short time).

Chaplin's contributions to Circle productions were uncredited. He never wanted any publicity, although it was hard to keep the secret because so many actors and friends saw him at rehearsals.  He spent countless hours with the actors, rehearsing them until the wee hours of the morning, when finally his wife, Oona, would call to summon him home. Then he would take the tired actors out for wheat cakes and maple syrup. "My fee for directing," Charlie would tell Jerry Epstein, "is thirty-five cents and a cup of black coffee!"

The Circle must have been a haven for Charlie at this time, a place where he could temporarily forget his problems & all the bad publicity he was receiving from the F.B.I. & the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Epstein said that Charlie never mentioned his problems, and they never asked about them. They were just "grateful that he was so generous with his time and talent."

The following photos are from Remembering Charlie by Jerry Epstein:

Charlie directing the first rehearsal of Rain (a play by Somerset Maugham).
Sydney Chaplin is at right wearing a black shirt.

Directing the Albert Camus play, Caligula, Charlie shows the actors how to shake their tablets.
The pillar int he background is from The Great Dictator. According to Epstein, Chaplin was generous with props
from his movies. 

Charlie and Oona congratulate Sydney after a performance at The Circle.