Dorothy Hart wrote this analysis of the play “L'Economiste” which was going to perform in Alicante, Spain on the 20th May 1975. This never happened due to the car accident that occurred two days before. Three of the actors in the leading roles of Maurice, Justine and Flora, died. The actors were Roy Hart, Dorothy Hart and Vivienne Young. One of the results of this tragedy was that the programme, together with Dorothy's analysis were never used. Only on this website can you see something of the wisdom of Dorothy's mind, and the 22 years of help that she was able to give Roy Hart in his many years of directing the theatre.
L'ECONOMISTE PROGRAMME notes, TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH by KEVIN CRAWFORD Two Songs Translated by PAUL SILBER
A Dream of Reality
This play is about Human nature, as the actors of Roy Hart Theatre perceive it. One can appreciate it quite simply as a dream, an impressionist painting, a ballet or a musical: but for those who prefer to dig deeper into its meaning, further analysis of the play proves fruitful.
This essay is an example of a personal journey in such an analysis and in no way claims to be the sole interpretation of the play. L'Economiste doesn't offer one unique interpretation, but rather it contains an invitation to educate our sensibilities.
The play therefore presents the human condition: each human being is a mass of personalities that fight to find their balance within the same body; moreover this personal struggle has to be led whilst living amongst other human beings, themselves engaged in a similar struggle. Its only when one attains balance between the numerous personalities inside ourselves that we can claim to be an individual. Very few people succeed in this. L'Economiste shows the way in which Flora and Maurice slowly and painfully reach this point of equilibrium, passing through mental and spiritual landscapes, where, to a significant extent, the frontiers between “dream” and “reality” are undefined.
Before we enter into the action of the play, it's useful to draw a picture of the central characters:
Flora. She represents a human quality of inestimable value, that few people possess: a profound intelligence, both generous and courageous, that enables the human being to be educated and to transform. At first she is full of misplaced ideas. She considers Maurice to be an adorable person, but one who escapes reality, losing his time in dreaming of “gardens” and “laughing streams”, while others live a practical useful life. However, from the beginning, her deeper “educable” instincts perceive something strangely inexplicable in him.
Maurice. He represents the intuitive artist in mankind, considered by the others as unadapted or an idiot when he begins to stumble towards wisdom; but he is a sane animal, gifted with a good relationship to his body intelligence, so he can therefore apply and train his mind towards a harmonious collaboration with his body, thanks to the famous method that leads to genius: “an infinite capacity to take infinite care”. His tenacious attachment to the demands of his inner ear leads him into a strong, radiant and commanding position. It is this aspect in a man that is ready to defy ridicule in order to to study politics, religion and social relationships, beginning with study of oneself: then, because he has confronted his appetites, his anti-social and murderous instincts, he becomes more conscious than others of the existence of evil forces in the world and how to handle them. He knows that it may be necessary to confront these forces every day, but he isn't afraid, or at least he masters his fear.
According to the story, he is a poet, who has persuaded Flora to leave her bourgeois family to live with him in the café, where it seems that Flora earns her living as a singer and a waitress, while Maurice spends his time in contemplation, and exploring his voice with that total absence of preconceptions that one finds in small children.
The Clients. Average Men and Women, more or less ignorant and emotionally unstable. But on a deeper level they represent the life field that Flora attracts to herself, and we see their function, and the atmosphere they convey, change, as bit by bit, Flora goes through a process of transformation – process that one might in general call a “nervous depression”, “a breakdown”, but that it might be better to call in this case: “impression“ or “breakup”. For example, the behaviour of the clients in Act III is totally different from Act I.
The Masked Men represent the forces of the unconscious that can take hold of average women and men, and force them to behave as a hysterical or vindictive crowd. Thus every time Flora speaks in an unconscious or dangerous way, that she shows a lack of attention or love, the unconscious “Apaches” who surround her become a more and more real menace. That's why the masked men can take possession of the clients, and in Act II they reveal themselves to be the same malign force that takes over Flora's family and the worldly friends. As if in a dream, these characters change and diverge from one another, according to psychical reality.
The Family and the Worldly Friends are almost self-evident and show a value system that throttles and refuses life, that weighs down the natural psychic development of an individual, and that, generally speaking, surrounds us during our formative years.
Justine is a manifestation of psychic balance. “Equilibrium navigates between the shadow and the light”. She is the four aspects or faces of the psyche – negative and positive femininity, negative and positive masculinity; and these aspects manifest themselves ever more clearly in the play as Flora approaches her point of balance. That is why, at different moments she is represented by two women and two men. She is the feminine counterpart of Maurice; she advances towards wisdom by a different road, by a mixture of feminine intuition and lived, survived experiences.
According to the story of the play, she was a servant in Flora's family et saw Flora grow from childhood. As a servant, her pathway to wisdom was imposed on her, whereas Maurice chose, consciously and voluntarily, to discipline himself in the path to wisdom. As a servant, she had to die every day the death of her own wishes. She becomes more and more visibly a symbol in the play; she is at the centre of every metamorphosis. She represents the fact that many human beings, once they have become aware of their fundamental nature, realise they need to serve as a symbol, as a centre for others as the sun is surrounded by stars. They are then ready to sacrifice their natural expressive energy, in order to embody for others, the symbol of priest, scapegoat, madman, black sheep or even drunkard , dissolute? These persons are prepared, whenever it is needed to play consciously the role that they consider necessary in order to keep a society in equilibrium. In the play we see Justine play many roles; and those around her rarely suspect her true depths.
The Technocrat – His significance, at first sight, seems grossly obvious. He represents the present day obsession with technology; and the mechanical formless doll, who hangs on his every word with exaggerated adulation is a caricature of the type of woman with whom this kind of man finds himself in general. But this kind of woman is the role Justine deliberately has chosen to play, until the moment when Flora becomes sufficiently integrated psychically and Justine can then reveal herself in her fourfold aspect. Justine's actions through this character represent an aspect of Maurice's genius, of the potential genius of Flora, and the potential genius in each of us,which is: that servile and mechanical imitation, the fact of behaving like an imbecile for love of wisdom, the discipline of total submission, can lead to the path of wisdom and the liberty of individual creation.
The Pianist and the Orchestra. Maurice, Justine and the pianist each symbolise in their way conscious integration. We feel that the pianist is a kind of disciple or ally of Maurice. He shows at the beginning of the play that he is capable not only of playing the piano , but also of being a solo singer of great virtuosity; and yet he choses to play the role of accompanist, which means he hardly uses his voice, but he is a force of creative unity in the whole play. He represents the balance between interior experience and exterior manifestation. He often seems to provoke the mood changes in the atmosphere of the cafe. He listens, he helps to bring out the expression of emotions that he senses are trapped and hidden in the persons around him. He leads the orchestra in giving an image in sound of the interior world. Through music he narrates his philosophy: that the greatest artistic talent consists in knowing how to serve an orchestra, to construct with others a balanced self-expression. He incarnates Maurice's artistic equilibrium, as Justine, in her turn, represents his emotional equilibrium.
All the characters are aspects of Maurice, the conscious man, they are representations of his dream, Roy Hart's dream. Because Roy Hart knows that each member of the company that grew around him, around his personal research for total complete identity through exploring his voice – each of the members of this theatre is a precious aspect of himself, and they are with him not by chance but from psychic necessity.
The first image we find on stage is that of a young man seated alone at the piano. He opens the play by demonstrating vocally the degree to which he has found in himself the balance between archetypes common to the human character using extracts from arias from the “Magic Flute” by Mozart – Zarastro and the Queen of the Night being the two extremes; his solo voice encompasses the registers of soprano, contralto, tenor and bass. He also presents a balanced relationship between the use of his body as an instrument , and the use he makes of an exterior instrument: the piano, as a a projection, an extension of himself. We will see later that his enigmatic presence influences the whole play.
This image of one character with infinite possibilities gives way all of a sudden to another tableau. Its Flora's café where the clients are in a contemplative mood. Roy Hart says the prologue for each individual member of his company, before they even appear on stage themselves:
“Every individual is indispensable
ir - re – place – able
Every individual within the individual is indispensable
ir - re – place – able
every individual is pre-conditioned
before the being of the day
When we can write ourselves off
How many times have I tried
to break myself off,
off with my blood, off with my skin,
out with my groaning guts
out of my body
all the others are with me
all the others in relationship to me
this is the only terrible thing
I know of
because this signifys that
every thing I am
effects my health
that effects the health of the earth
this signifys that I am
the only alternative
towards the lights of hope
or towards the darkness of despairs
in this space
in this road, in this field, in this place, in this space
we are the only individuals
we can speak of ourselves
we are our own lights of hope
those lights that are in ourselves
the fires of hope
the fires of all our hopes.”
Each of these actors interacts with the theme of the prologue with an intensity born of the everyday experience of living and working together on and off the stage. Each actor unceasingly discovers the numerous personalities in themselves, some of whom live through them like ghosts from past centuries, often making them do things that the “I” who thinks both detests and regrets. The thinking “I”, who has not yet learnt how to control the false emotions that live through and despite oneself, is first of all horrified by their unsuitability, as creative forces, to the overcrowded conditions in which we must learn to live today.
This fact is illustrated as the the first act unfolds: the clients of the café reflect Flora's struggle to escape from the behaviour of a woman stuck in the story of past generations of unmarried women in competition for a place in a masculine world. We see that, bit by bit, the clients allow strange ancient forces to live through them, to deform their bodies into images from the past, until their faces take on gargoyle masks which no longer belong to their bodies. A typical division that characterises human tragedy of today. (This was in 1975)
The first act begins in a practically empty café. There is an atmosphere of isolation, isolation of people who live in different worlds , and who haven't yet learnt to communicate with each other.
Flora calls out: “Open an eye Maurice, come out of your dreaming”. She doesn't realise that what appears to be Maurice's sleepy wasting of time, is nothing less than him diving into his vaunrable depths. In essence, the first act narrates the fact that Flora doesn't really understand Maurice, and shows us the dangers that she is unconsciously inviting. The dynamic personality of Flora is on course to the critical moment of conflict in herself, and the force of this experience attracts her to other examples of misplaced or twisted relationships.
Flora tells Maurice to wake up: it is time that he allows her to show him the world as it really is, so that he understands. The unconscious arrogance of these words is obvious. When Maurice begins to express some of his thoughts..... ”my definition of music is the individual”, “when one is afraid of being directed, one is in danger of never becoming an individual”, we really get the impression that he is speaking to himself, as he knows that she doesn't really want to hear what he has to say.
Flora makes another error in communications when she tries to explain Maurice to the clients. It is impossible to explain a man like Maurice, or any other human being, before one has perceived in oneself a certain understanding of human nature, and the clients are even less capable than Flora of understanding Maurice. She is driven by her concern to satisfy the clients, instead of staying calm, knowing that his genius is self-evident. At bottom , she is so unsure of herself on a profoundly physical level, that her false sexuality attracts in turn false sexuality. The first example is the approach of the Technocrat : “ Flora, listen! This place is not good enough for you – come with me, I am rich.....”
Flora rebuts him and throws herself into her first song with the kind of energy that a young woman, uncertain of herself, feels when she is addressed by a man in this way. But in singing she begins to feel better in her body and to establish who she really is; and the reason for which Maurice loves her and believes in her becomes clear. When she realises the effect she has on people, she is torn between her timidity, her surprise at seeing that she can attract a public, and a burst of cruelty towards the only person who really loves her. And she begins immediately to misuse this sense of her own power by treating Maurice like a lazy but likeable child.
Flora begins to appear happy, as if everything is happening as it should; but Maurice, the visionary, knows that everything is not going well. He tells her a dream that he has had, which gives a very clear image of the experiences and psychological development that Flora is going to have undertake so that her relationship with Maurice takes on its true meaning.
Flora begins to become aware of a kind of terrifying tension in the café, and she is obsessed by her attempts to entertain the clients with songs in order to dissipate this strange fear. Her nervous and off-balance energy provokes sinister manifestations and forces around her : devious, frenetic, dangerous and equivocal allies join in orchestration behind her dialogue with Maurice. She shows herself to be incapable of living happily in the present moment; but she wants the unknown, that something better: “we could have done something else”, “you could have been...”, “We'll make a trip around the shops”. She hardly notices the love that Maurice has for her, and she doesn't believe in it. But it is him who is the realist who likes to be where he is and with whom he is. “I prefer for the moment the dust of beams, the smell of walls, your smell, Malerargues.” The superficial nature of Flora comes up against the deeper character of Maurice, and she starts to complain. We see that she is snobbish in her alleged impression of having lost something in leaving her “good” family. The quarrel intensifies and attracts an other even worse lovers quarrel, as a sort of warning.
A violent scene breaks out suddenly between a husband and wife, and in the café time stops for some moments, time to think. There they are, man and woman, the faces twisted in hate; and now Flora really is frightened, as she feels that the nightmare of Maurice is about to realise itself. Maurice plays the role of hate that he doesn't feel, and consciously puts on a mask; then she accuses him of frightening her with this gesture, unconscious of the seeds of destruction she herself has sowed, and complains: “Maurice, I have varicose veins, I have breasts that are getting smaller.” At this precise moment, Justine appears for the first time, as if conjured up by Maurice's faith in the harmonious foundation of his relationship with Flora. Justine slowly walks between Maurice and Flora at the moment when Maurice says : “At fifty you have the face and varicose veins that you deserve. Nobody will ever separate us, neither dreams, nor phantasms – only sex separates, the spirit unites.”
Justine manifests equilibrium, the spirit of integrated love capable of uniting Maurice and Flora, which will bring them together later in the play. But Flora doesn't really see her, as she is a prisoner in her sexual world, in the war of the sexes. Her obstinate miscomprehension of Maurice isn't yet ready to be transformed. She resumes her Delila role and tempts Maurice, trying to get him to change his mind, and Justine sadly retreats. Maurice is a being that one can't seduce, as neither pornographic pleasure, nor material success interest him, and he has no intention of appeasing or entertaining the unconscious clients.
Flora, incapable of seeing Justine now says the unpardonable: “I stay, if you play.” She uses the fact that Maurice loves her as a weapon of emotional blackmail. As soon as she has said these words she regrets them, but too late. She has just drawn towards herself the worst of all vipers, the cynic, the anti-artist who, in the name of love of the family, refuses the artist their right to freedom in creating. These masked men are an exterior manifestation of the internal distortion that makes so-called civilised people to try to deny and kill the human spirit that has elevated humanity. Maurice knows that these forces will separate him from Flora. He had cautioned Flora many times, but he knew that she couldnt hear these warnings; that's why he accepts this inevitable transition, which he believes will lead to them being united again: he calmly maintains his faith in the fundamental value in Flora: “Finally it's you my true Flora....there is nothing in the world than the human being in movement, their joys and their doubts, their decisions and their visions. Action overturns destiny. Balance navigates between the shadow and the light. The act of pure play is a lie. Heroism lies in being sincere in these times of sly shadows and the loss of the light of summer. Act. Play. Live.....”.
The masked men can't touch him – he is at peace with his own unconscious, but they have the power to keep him prisoner far away from Flora. The act finishes when Flora, oppressed by these forces, finds her true voice for the first time, a voice that calls Maurice from the depths of her whole being. The sound of this new voice must resonate in her inner ear many of the sounds that she heard Maurice make before, without understanding them. It is a process of transformation that Flora has initiated.
The second act opens with the same cry. In psychological terms, the forces of the unconscious that have provoked Flora's nervous depression find their roots in the false and stuffy values of her own family and her worldly friends; for the people in the café, the masked men and the family circle are all linked, it is the same snake that changes it's skin. “We must close the windows, to avoid air currents, and the currents of thoughts......that make of her a young woman like the others.” These sabbath witches have the aim of “rehabilitating” Flora into the normal world by treating the strange signs of social deviation they perceive in her by means of external rituals. “In our technical century we need to go back to the origins, marry her to safeguard the family; the kitchen, sewing, knitting, healthy occupations, sport, dance, tele-vision.”
Only Justine knows that what is really happening in Flora is an interior transformation, a process of individuation. In psychological terms, Flora is in the process of re-absorbing her projections, and Justine hears this in the first sounds that Flora utters(?). In the anguish of her soul , Flora discovers through her own sounds the Maurice in herself, the dark side, unknown, subversive, that the worldly friends try to suppress. We have been able to see in the first act, just from the way they look at each other, that Maurice and Justine know each other deeply. Justine is the first to hear Maurice's voice in the second act , because she knows that he is there and that he waits. She appears to be with the family and share its rituals, but she has a very different point of view of this purification, that is in course. She follows all of Flora's sounds with the subtle ear of wisdom, with her talent for spiritual diagnosis. Like an attentive midwife, she protects the young woman in her birth pangs , and keeps the dangerously hysterical family away.
Justine is an educator, and she knows that all the hypothetical wishes that Flora expressed in the first act are going to be put to the test. In the first act Flora claims to have made a sacrifice by leaving the comfort of her family to live with Maurice. When her family takes her back, she begins to understand that she would rather be with Maurice. She had wished to lead a useful life, to have a job in line with the age of technology, and have a husband able to earn his living. So Justine prepares her to receive a “prince charmant” of this type, the technarch: “He is coming, the knight, the “prince charming”, the technarch lover”.
When Flora actually is in the presence of the object of her cerebral fantasy, the technarch, she finds him ridiculous, and finally tragic in a painful way, because she has now become sufficiently sensitive to human values, to realise that warm contact would deal a mortal blow to such a man. She learns the lesson that, at different times in one's life, in order to maintain certain values, one is obliged to kill others, and one has to have the strength to see the suffering this may cause.
He boasts: “ My universe is a clockwork treasure without failure”, and it is at this precise moment that his world begins to fall to pieces.
During the second and third act Justine is first on one side then the other according to what is necessary to maintain equilibrium. When the family and the worldly friends want to flee after having seen their hero the technarch die, it is Justine who tries to bring them together. The whole of Flora's old life-field is disintegrating, and Justine has taken part in this life for long years. She is too wise to want to help this destruction without trying to extract the best from this past. She appeals to the code of honor that she saw the family follow in better times: “Don't run away.” If they had been able to rise above themselves, she would be ready to continue in their service. “Everything will begin again, you'll see, I will serve you, subdued, melancholic, without recriminations”. If they had a spark of courage, of faith, to carry on through this painful period of transformation, she would be ready to support them. But it is their cowardice that wins, and Justine has to follow her own path.
According to the play's storyline, Justine is now alone with her freedom, alone to choose what she wants to do with it, now that she sees her masters running away. She only thinks about Flora, the only person in her life, whose rebellion against her family's lifestyle reveals a sense of values in tune with those that Justine needs. She chooses to seek, dead or alive, the only person, the only individual with whom she is related, like a link between her former life as a servant , and her future. Flora is attracted by Justine, because Justine knows that Flora is educable and that she, Justine knows and she? can further this education: She still has work to do for life. In psychological terms something has happened to Flora that allows Justine to reveal herself a bit more.
Until this moment, we have only seen her two feminine aspects; when Flora succeeds in accomplishing the difficult and masculine task of of choosing to refuse the technarch, to take a decision heavy with anxiety and troublesome consequences, the masculine and feminine qualities of Flora now appear in a creative manner. She is at the same moment both tender and firm for the right reasons. Knowing that, Justine must now help Flora to reveal herself even more clearly. Justine gathers herself to prepare the meeting with Flora , and sings:
“Time is a drop in eternity
On the shore of your river
My years of desire
Of hopes and of sadness
Have taught me the songs of love
Those songs that tear me to pieces...
In every one of my cells
Sings a star
That is the image
Of my lost love
That is now re-found
And flowers again within me
The river mentioned so often in the play is the river of conscious life. It runs unfalteringly through the world; but few people have the gift of balancing on this border between the conscious and the unconscious, knowing that the river is there. It is precisely the point where two individuals can know how to meet and understand each other.
Justine calls Flora for her last chalenge. Is she for or against life? Does she really want to escape to the unknown, to a sort of vague fantasy nirvana, to live a life full of doubts and unhappiness that undermine her capacity to consecrate herself entirely to the present? “A boat to flee” is what she asks for in the first act, the chance to escape alone with Maurice. Justine deliberately offers Flora the possibility of realising this wish, but she adds that, in order to attain this unknown land where there is no anguish, she needs to leave without Maurice. For Maurice's being makes it necessary to contain the anxiety, the intense colours of pain and joy that mark every heterosexual relationship. “I have come to lead you to discover an unknown world”.
Flora now begins to recognize the dual nature of Justine, and, by associating her with the repressive ritual her family had tried to impose on her, she identifies Justine only with death. Flora says she isn't ready to die, but that she wants to see the sun of summer one more time. In the whole play, this image seems to represent this irrepressible je ne sais quoi (in french in the original "I don't know what"), which in every human being says yes to life, and allows the river of conscious life to run freely. Justine offers Flora the temptation of submitting to her most terrible fears: to doubt that Maurice will return, to doubt the direction she needs to take. But Flora holds firm, she wants to wait at the bank of the river, she wants to find Maurice again and say yes to faith.
The final temptation is when Justine says: “And if Maurice didn't come?” And Flora in an instant identifying Maurice with life, says : “ I will follow you.” Justine understands that now she needs to paint a picture for Flora of what her death wish implies: “ Silence, always silence. Maurice isn't there, lets go, come on, we will be free, you understand, free, we will walk on the ocean's waves towards shores without anguish.” Flora remembers the voices that screamed at the technarch as he died: “Without anxiety, humanity hasn't got a chance.” She knows that the images that Justine has just painted for her are not what she wants. And in the moment in which she rejects death, rejects all thought of replacing the cafe life that she knows, Maurice comes back.
Even before seeing or hearing Maurice, Justine knows, from the way in which Flora turns far away from her, and begins to distance herself, that Flora has just won a battle for faith in herself, a battle for life. And in that precise moment, Maurice is is free to return; and Justine can leave. But Justine must still hope that Flora will be conscious of the need to always carry in herself the awareness of death as well as of life, and she promises to return. Flora doesn't hear her, and she believes that the next time she sees Justine it will only signify death.
Flora's body now begins to wake up. Confidence and belief begin to dominate. Here is Maurice, she lovingly remembers the cafe, suddenly here it is , the cafe, transformed, peopled with transformed , educated clients – it's a cafe where one breathes human warmth and understanding. Flora has chosen to stay where she is and transform the cafe into a prison where she can create a mood of warm confidence. She doesn't want to escape any more. She even speaks the same poetic language as Maurice: the sun... faith in life..... pierce through the blind walls of doubt, of fear, and of aggression.
There is an atmosphere of balance and harmony, and the clients speak of the differences between the cafe, a place where one discovers and establishes values, and the world outside, a world of suspicions, of fear and evil, of life that is hollow, of empty bodies. Right in the middle of their joyous lives, the people from the new cafe are aware of death; and in this moment of re-cognition Justine reappears clearly before Flora's eyes. She had always been there, without being noticed, in her four aspects, she joined in the most animated dances, but Flora was incapable of seeing her. The clients around her have taught her something, and at the end of the dances and festivity, they go back to a cold waiting, a tranquility, a distance, that is the small natural death that has to happen after every explosion of life. It wasn't the icy silence that gave Flora shivers at the beginning of the play; now fear and solitude give way to understanding the phenomena of life and death. Flora remembers Justine and in that moment she realises that she has seen her pass in front of her many times amongst the dancers.
The process of transformation has finished. Balance has been established between the individual and the collectivity. Flora no longer needs to live only with Maurice; she will live with him and the clients, in their café of the world. Now, Justine unites them in a marriage ceremony that is at one and the same time a union and a guarantee of total individual liberty, an action that attaches and detaches. Flora, Maurice, Justine, the clients, the whole company, they are all finally united.
writen by -
Dorothy Hart's index page
RHT Index page