Photograph, Saule Ryan

Photograph, Saule Ryan. Cabaret at the 'Abraxas Club' London 1972. Dorothy with Roy.

"Who was Dorothy Hart " by Paul Silber

















Two extracts from"A Celebration of Life":

"What can I say about Dorothy? How can I describe her? She was a truly extraordinary person. This is illustrated very simply by the fact that she successfully related to the genius called Roy Hart for 19 years. Not an easy thing to do. Her family came from Scotland. She looked Scottish with her shoulder length black hair, her quick smile and her darting, laughing eyes. She was a remarkable optimist and inspite of occasional black depressions, her life was totally given over to the positive. One of her favourite sayings was "Bad beginnings, good ends". She had a great sense of joy and fun and her level of spontaneous energy could be quite overwhelming on occasions. All these aspects of her were very endearing.

Dorothy was also a person of great inner strength and power. She was wise, discriminating and fought for what she believed in. She was also highly intelligent. She graduated in English from Cambridge University so she had an excellent command of the English language. There was virtually nothing that Roy signed as having been written by him that actually had not first been worked on by Dorothy."

"Dorothy was a dedicated and gifted performer.
She approached each role with insightful determination to seek out all the lifeful and growthful possibilities that a character proposed. As a note to herself on her role as Justine in "L'Economiste", she wrote " Justine's character: la balance navigue entre l'ombre et la lumiere." Balance navigates between shade and light. It was a line in the play, not Justine's, but it aptly summed up Justine's alchemical, consciously catalystic role in the play. In some ways this role did mirror Dorothy's own role in life. She herself could move between her generous, joyful self to a shadier being of dark anxieties, angers and lack of confidence. Her abundant intelligence saw her through the bleak moments. She was jealous of Vivienne who had begun a physical relationship with Roy, some months prior to our own, and she suffered on this account, more in the early days than later when our relationship began to mature. The way in which she "navigated" through these pitfalls was with the help of performance and wise application. I include the following transcription from one of her rehearsal tapes for the performance "And" which shows the process in action.

"Friends, sacrifice, suffering, conscious spontaneity, joy, Constance, Dorothy. My name is Dorothy Hart, I stand here containing 46 years of experience of my own particular incarnation. I am with you, I am going to continue to pray. I can see from some of your faces that you feel the cold shock of words. I feel it too and I know this is necessary. My illusions are shattered and scattered, rebirth is a cold shock.

Usually at this point in the performance, I rediscover myself in sound, I sing. I give myself what we call a singing lesson. I discover my body, singing. Tonight the spirit has dictated otherwise. Singing, in the Roy Hart Theatre, is a special word which carries 47 years of accrued meaning. It includes what I'm doing now, speaking, with words. It is a form of prayer, summoning the whole body, not only on Sundays or maybe 10 minutes to an hour each day, but if possible, every minute, every second. Summoning the body to concentrate on evaluating, on making balanced values. This is singing. To be true to myself tonight I need to speak with words. We live in a verbal world. I am a verbal person by inclination, or I have become more so. These words we use, the way in which we speak them, with differing intensities of bodily involvement. Honesty. The way we use words really concerns me, us. Last night I lay awake for many hours wrestling to embody in my own experience the meaning of certain words, so common, yet so individual. They contain peace and dynamite, diffidence and passion. I would like you to share with me tonight while I sing, or pray, concentrating on these few powerful words. Singing or prayer intention, I love you, living art, husband, wife, lover....................."

The transcription of the tape finishes here because the tape finishes here also. Whether this tape was ever played to anyone, I will never know. I have included an extract of it on the accompanying CD. It is an intimate statement but one which I feel conveys something of the essence and depth of Dorothy. On the CD, I have linked this statement to an extract of Dorothy giving herself a singing lesson with the words "I love my body" as she did in performance.

On a lighter note, I include Dorothy's introduction to "Blue Moon" transposed from a recording of her concert, at the Abraxas Club, London, in late 1974. The tape was made for her mother, Constance Findlay (note the name from the text above). The song itself can be heard on the CD. "I think the reason why I enjoyed performing the whole cabaret so much was because it was the first time that I actually sang and acted a part into the singing at the same time. And I think, visually a great deal more was going on there than you can hear from the sound track alone. The audiences' response definitely contributed to the whole personality of that lovely evening. Anyway it was great fun. So I thought you might like to have a copy of it, which I send to you with love from me. I have a picture printed by Rousseau of a Pierrot and a Pierrette coming out of some winter woods of leafless trees. High in the night sky, there is this beautiful moon. It hangs there in the deep blue of the night sky. The two young lovers are obviously running away together, running into their future together. This picture has been on my bedroom wall all the time since we lived at the Ridgeway. I never get tired of looking at it. I still have it in my new room now we are in Lambolle Place. I looked around me and then I realised that all the pictures that I have in my room in Lambolle Place, they all have a moon in them and that therefore I'm very, very fond of the moon and all that it signifies of fairy stories and romance. So I had this picture put on the wall at the back of the theatre as scenery for my performance because the song that I sing next is called "Blue Moon". It is one of my very, very favourite tunes because it symbolises all the romance contained in life and my everlasting belief in the reality of fairy stories."


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