The family legacy

Dancer Aurelia Thierree, granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, performs in her mother’s richly imaginative ‘Murmures des Murs.’

Daner Aurelia Thierree (photo credit: Richard Haughton)
Daner Aurelia Thierree
(photo credit: Richard Haughton)
Of the many things a person cannot choose in life, family is one; destiny is another.
While we are not in control of the genes we have or the people who surround us in our early years, the best anyone can do is to make the most of the talents they receive.
Long before dancer Aurelia Thierree made her stage debut, it seemed written in the stars that she would find herself in the limelight. After some debate and a few years of straying from it, Thierree gave in to an almost hereditary pull to the stage. Early next week, she will perform in Murmures des Murs (Murmurs of the Walls) during the Israel Festival.
“I never had a plan,” said Thierree in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “Everything I did brought me back in that direction. I would stop acting and then I would miss it, so I started circling back to it.”
Thierree is the granddaughter of celebrated actor Charlie Chaplin, thus a member of one of the most talent-bestowed families in history.
Almost every branch of the Chaplin family tree is covered in performers. Chaplin’s parents were entertainers, and many of his children also found themselves drawn to the spotlight.
In one of her loops back to acting, Thierree decided to collaborate with her mother, director Victoria Thierree Chaplin.
Together with her husband, Jean- Baptiste Thierree, Victoria Chaplin had created several traveling circus shows, which are credited for giving inspiration to larger circus acts such as Cirque du Soleil. It was in these acts that Thierree first took to the stage.
Staying in line with the whimsical, magical energy of the circus, Murmures des Murs presents a portrait of a woman whose life weaves in and out of fantasy and reality.
“It has to do with dreams and imagination,” explains Thierree of the piece. “We really like that thin line between dreams and madness at times. The dreams that you have are quite structured. While you dream, it seems normal; and when you wake up, you realize that they are absurd. It works with the imagination with the person watching. Maybe it’s nostalgic, but we hope that it’s alive and light as well.”
Using optical illusions, complicated sets and puppetry, Chaplin created a rich and imaginative setting in which her leading lady explores the boundary between what is and what once was. Though the piece is fully set, Thierree admits that each night presents a new world of surprises and she is never certain what will happen on stage.
“That’s what I love about acting. That it’s so fragile and ephemeral; but when a piece reaches someone’s imagination, it can go on and on,” she says.
Murmures des Murs is the second piece that Chaplin and Thierree have created together. The first, entitled Aurelia’s Oratorio, ran for more than nine years and received critical acclaim.
“We’re still alive, so that’s a good sign,” laughs Thierree of working with her mother.
While Thierree and Chaplin’s blood connection surely affords them a certain closeness, there is a deep professional admiration that runs between the two.
“I work with Victoria because I love her work. I love to work on projects where people are passionate, and we’re all investigating something that’s important. As soon as I encounter that, I love it. I follow her lead because she’s the director. I sometimes suggest things or bring my own. But it’s a collaboration where the roles are very clear, and that’s why it works. I never try to direct, but I bring everything I can to the plate.”
Of her family legacy, Thierree remains aware and grateful.
However, she has distanced herself from the pressures of living up to anyone’s reputation other than her own.
“Once you are on stage and the curtain is up, you are alone. The only truth that remains is what you are. The only pressure you have as a performer is to make something work.”
Of her grandfather, she adds, “He’s been an inspiration to so many people, that he belongs to everyone.”
Murmurs des Murs will run at The Jerusalem Theater on May 27 and 28. For tickets, visit