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A Plinge and Spelvin Christmas

Published December 04, 2007        by Matt

December 2 is Walter Plinge Day in England. By a long tradition, writes Richard Huggett in The Curse of Macbeth and Other Theatrical Superstitions, a British actor who has two parts in the same play takes the name Walter Plinge for the second role. The original Mr. Plinge may have been a theatre-crazy, 19th century pub landlord in Drury Lane, London, who extended unlimited credit to actors - an unlikely story, if you know any actors. (Wilfred Granville, author of the definitive Theatrical Dictionary, says one Sunday the grateful thespians allowed Mr. Plinge to appear on stage in his own name in a benefit performance in his honour.) At the turn of the century, Walter Plinge was appearing in three West End shows simultaneously. In the United States, George Spelvin is the Plinge equivalent. His theatrical birthday is believed to be November 15, 1886, in the New York production Karl the Peddler. He is credited with more than 10,000 Broadway performances; his female equivalent is Georgina or Georgetta Spelvin.

So what does this really have to do with Chrstmas or December a month of hope?

We’re so glad you asked.

Walter Plinge (England) and George Spelvin (also Georgette Spelvin or Georgina Spelvin in United States) are traditional pseudonyms used in programs by theater actors who don't want to be credited or whose names would otherwise appear twice (or more) because they are playing more than one role in a production.

Such gestures are synonymous with the saying “is it better to give than to receive giving a performance without needing proper credit for a role which, may indeed be what the actor the audience truly remembers.

The true spirit of Christmas is captured by these anonymous creations.