George Spelvin Day
annually on November 15th
George Spelvin, who has various female counterparts such as Georgette Spelvin, is a pseudonym used in theater programs and other media, who today has his own holiday. The name is used for a number of reasons. An actor who plays two parts may use it, so that their name won't appear twice in the program, concealing that they play more than one role. It may be printed in a program if it is not known who will play a part when the programs are made, or it may be used in a program if an actor doesn't want their name used. Non-sentient beings like corpses and scarecrows may be listed with the name. Some actors who belong to unions use it when they are working on non-union contracts, in order to avoid penalties.
Characters that come up in dialogue but never show up on stage are sometimes listed as George Spelvin. This ensures that viewers referring to their programs won't know that a character mentioned is never going to show up later on stage. It is used when it appears that an actor is playing two characters, who is later revealed to be one person with two names or identities. This is common in murder mysteries, where it keeps the audience from knowing that two characters who appear to be different are actually the same person. It is also used for someone who never says a line, such as someone who rings a doorbell and delivers something to a character but never speaks.
George Spelvin Day takes place on November 15 because it is believed that the name debuted on that date in 1886 when it was used to list a character in Charles A. Gardiner's Broadway production Karl the Peddler. Some other plays where it appeared early on include Brewster's Millions in 1907 and Strike up the Band in 1927. It is not limited to theater and has also been used for television episodes and films. It also has not been confined to acting, with books and articles being published under the pseudonym. In Britain, the name Walter Plinge is regularly used instead of Spelvin, and directors who want to disown a project sometimes list their name as Alan Smithee. George Spelvin Day has been marked since at least 1976, and by that time George Spelvin had been used in over 10,000 Broadway performances.
How to Observe George Spelvin Day
- Go to a play and see if anyone is listed in the program as George Spelvin or Georgette Spelvin. You could also look for the pseudonym in any films or television episodes you watch or books and articles you read.
- View some playbills or programs that list George Spelvin.
- Explore some of the plays that have had George Spelvin as a character.
- Write a short story play and have George or Georgette Spelvin be one of the characters. You could then create a program for it.