Dress rehersal's for the show When Chaplin met Gandi at Eastlea school

Eastlea School pupils recreate historic Canning Town meeting of Chaplin and Gandhi

Sunday, February 26, 2012
6.00 AM

Pupils from Eastlea Community School acted in and helped produce a professional play to bring a slice of Newham history to life.

Thirteen students from the Pretoria Road school learnt from five acting professionals and local playwright Jim Kenworth to reenact an enigmatic moment in Canning Town’s history.

“When Chaplin Met Gandhi” is based on the true story detailing the events of surrounding an unlikely friendship the pair struck up in east London in 1931.

British born Hollywood star Charlie Chaplin was in London for the premiere of his new film “City Lights” while Mahatma Gandhi, the father of Indian independence, was residing in a community centre in the East End.

An admirer of Gandhi, Chaplin requested a meeting with the pioneer of non-violent protest but was refused at first because Gandhi had no idea who he was.

His secretaries dismissed Chaplin as “just a buffoon” but then Gandhi did his research and found that Chaplin’s films were rooted in the plight of the working classes and gave a voice to those who rarely had one.

The play, performed twice at Eastlea Community School on February 11, details the meeting of the great minds with Kulvinder Ghir, star of Bend It Like Beckham and Goodness Gracious Me, playing Mahatma Gandhi.

The school and the actors formed under the name the Eastlea Theatre Company to stage the production in association with the Royal Docks Trust.

In July 2010 students from the school were involved in acting scenes from the first draft of the play - then called “When Gandhi Met Chaplin”.

The production has also been performed at the Canning Town site for LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre). Since then the playwright has received a grant from the Royal Docks Trust to produce a fuller version of the play with the aim of showing it in a public venue in May 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad.