When Chaplin Met Gandhi

The extraordinary play that tells an extraordinary tale

Posted: 06.08.12

A new play opening this week reveals the lesser known story of when one of India's greatest political figures Mahatma Gandhi met the London based acting legend Charlie Chaplin. The brief encounter took place in 1931 when Gandhi spent 12 weeks in the East End.
Whilst staying at Kingsley Hall, Gandhi met with local children, teaching the youngsters from the rough-and-tumble streets of the capital his nonviolent approach to the world.
Charlie Chaplin, beloved across the world and in London at that time for the premiere of his new film City Lights, requested to see Gandhi, believing that they had a special connection in their affinity for the poor and the working class.  
Although Chaplin was at first dismissed by Gandhi’s entourage, Gandhi agreed to see the man who had created the Little Tramp and the ensuing encounter brought together two of the greatest figures of the twentieth century.

The play When Chaplin Met Gandhi written by Jim Kenworth is an imaginary take of what happened when the two met and stars Divian Ladwa as Gandhi and Mark Oosterveen as Chaplin, along with Pip Mayo, Marcus Ellard, Jen Stevenson, and 15 school children from local East London boroughs.
As a touching tribute, the play is being shown at Kingsley Hall, one of the places that hosted Gandhi during his stay.
Speaking of the incredible tale, write Kenworth said: 'It was the unlikeliest of encounters in the unlikeliest of places, but when Chaplin and Gandhi met in Canning Town, the men had more in common than they realised.  They both knew cockney rhyming slang, they had similar nicknames (Little Tramp and Little Leader), and they both stuck up for the underdog: Chaplin in his movies, Gandhi in his life and politics.'
To book tickets visit

Images by Matthew Xia.

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