theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
From 23rd July until 3rd August, 2014, The Cinema Museum in London will be hosting Charlie Ward, a sound installation lasting 15 minutes.
Renowned theatre group, Fuel present Sound&Fury’s Charlie Ward in conjunction with 14-18 NOW. It is sure to be a moving and evocative piece that will enable us to imagine what it was like for those first soldiers injured at the start of the First World War to have Charlie taking them away from the horrors of the trenches.
Some say that British soldiers in the trenches held up cardboard cutouts of Charlie Chaplin’s tramp in the hope that the enemy would die laughing. But as the carnage of war set in, Chaplin’s image was put to a different use…
C Ward. 1914. In a makeshift hospital, behind the front line, the war’s first casualties are treated. To boost morale, medical staff arrange for a Chaplin film to be shown for the bed ridden, with the ward’s ceiling serving as the silver screen.
For one soldier, the flickering images, whirring projector and Chaplin’s perfect comic timing trigger complex emotions and memories. Cast from the trenches to childhood, from trauma to dreams, the hospital film show sets him on a journey into a personal no man’s land.
Using their distinctive style – total darkness, minimal lighting and immersive sound design – Sound&Fury conjure up the extraordinary experience of being a patient on Charlie Ward.
The Cinema Museum
2 Dugard Way
Interestingly, Charlie Chaplin was far from popular on the home front when the press (notably Lord Northcliffe of the Daily Mail) picked up on the fact that Chaplin had not enlisted. Apparently, though, he applied for the draft and was rejected because of being ‘undersized and underweight’. He was far more valuable to the war effort as an entertainer, especially having made an enormous splash on the big screen in 1914.
The song below, The Moon Shines Bright on Charlie Chaplin, has an attractive tune, but listen to the words and you’ll realise that it is taking a swipe at Charlie. A no glory article says that in spite of all, the ‘slacker attacks continued […] until reports’ revealed the physical reasons he had been rejected. It is rather sad, not say undeserved, that he was faced with people who continued to present him with white feathers. And Northcliffe continued using lies to harangue him in the press showing just how little difference there is between the Daily Mail in 1914 and 100 years on.
“Patriotism is the greatest insanity the world has ever suffered…Patriotism [in Europe] is rampant everywhere and the result is going to be another war.” Charlie Chaplin, 1932
Sarah Vernon © 17-07-14
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