Introduction to the disc "If...." by Paul Silber

(The disc opens into a theatre text) That was an extract from Noel Coward' play "Present Laughter". In this informal reading for the members of the RHT, Roy Hart plays Garry Essandine, a successful, cantankerous and charming actor of the 1940s, a matinee idol. Kaya Anderson plays his wife, Liz.

Roy is brilliantly cast as Garry. He was in himself a Garry Essandine, a man who lived for Theatre. But there was one great difference, - Roy Hart was a seeker, a researcher; his quest being the integration of the personality through a deep and meticulous study of his voice. Despite loving the exuberance and wit of Noel Coward, he rejected such plays and chose to work only with material that would further his researchs.

In this CD, I have put together an introduction to a demonstration tape that Roy was making in the '60s together with a Radio Interview that he made in 1974, only a year before his death. I find the juxtaposition of the two: the student ideals of the former and the maturer man of experience in the latter; illustrates an interesting development in Roy himself and captures something of why he created the Roy Hart Theatre in the first place.

Garry Ensandine refers to his entourage of lovers, admirers and theatre directors as "parasites". Were we as a group also "parasites" to Roy? well maybe sometimes. But the group experience of our artistic and social community, did allow Roy's vision to mature into reality. A reality that could be seen and heard on stage by real audiences.

As a Theatre, we went through a great deal of disciplined study. We trained vocally and physically and we also met extensively to discuss and integrate our daily lives, our dreams and our artistic activities into the rehearsals. It was demanding work, requiring a lot of commitment and concentration. But, as a result, we became very aware as a group; capable of great sensitivity and high theatrical tension on stage.

One could say that Roy did share one character trait with Garry Essandine; he would not compromise. He wanted to go back into the professional Theatre "on his own terms". We as a group, were part of those terms. What with this and Roy's uncompromising attitude in artistic matters, he often found himself in difficult and delicate situations with authors and composers. But he stuck to his principles and the few remaining recordings of his voice still bear witness to this fact.

For many of us in his Theatre, Roy was a father figure. It is fitting then, that I finish this disc with Roy's rendering of Rudyard Kipling's poem "If". This poem arrived like a gift for me. Until last year, I had never heard it. I do not know why or when Roy recorded it. One day, I was sifting through all the old recordings when suddenly ...."If" ....a beautiful and moving statement, a story of experience, - discovered 29 years after Roy's death and probably 40 years after it was first recorded.

It should said that the Voice Centre, that still exists here in France, bearing Roy's name is a tribute to the wealth of the legacy he left to us all. Roy's, and how our committed belief in the voice as the unifier of head and body, heart and guts, intellect and instinct, has been proved over the years to be well founded.

There now follows: Roy's introduction to the demonstration tape he made in 1964:

 

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