Roy Hart is born, as Reuben Hartstein, to Polish-Lithuanian parents in Johannesburg,
Has an Orthodox Jewish education. Feels he never makes friends easily.
Studies English, history of music, philosophy and psychology at
Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg
1946 Performs “Peer Gynt” in a University production to much acclaim
Has a conflict between his innate desire to go on stage and his families’ Rabbinical origin so decides to leave South Africa.
May 1947 Joins Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, as a scholarship student, using the name Royden Hart.
5th June 1947 meets Alfred Wolfsohn “a man who I feel has the ability to bring out the very best in me. … He is indubitably the finest thing that has happened in my life”. (Quotes from RH’s diary) “He accepted me just the way I was.” His work with AW creates problems with his RADA work, he has to abandon the Word for the Sound. RADA scoffs that he is losing himself.
1949 Graduates from RADA , his report says “A good voice but is inclined to over-voice… He deserved his free fee place.” (The Director)
1950s As AW is ill, Roy takes on some of the teaching of other students. His early students include Rossignol, Robert Harvey, Kaya Anderson. Roy gives vocal demonstrations to experts in music or theatre: Menuhin, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov. In contact with C.G. Jung. Creates interest but little action.
1960 Works at Shenley, a psychiatric hospital in London, to research the healing power of the voice. Over the years, he maintains a link with the psychotherapeutic world by taking part in several World Congresses.
Roy, with other students, help to nurse AW through his final illness.
1962 AW dies and after much thought, Roy creates a group from his own students and those of AW’s wishing to continue.
1964 Documentary film made of the group (available on DVD "Theatre of Being"). Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski and R.D. Laing visit the studio.
1967 The Roy Hart Speakers become the Roy Hart Theatre. Work begins on the “Bacchae”, performed at the Festival of Nancy in 1969. Also the year of Roy’s solo in Stockhausen’s “Spirale” and Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Eight Songs for a Mad King”*.
1971 Roy performs Hans Werner Henze’s “Versuch über Schweine”. The Theatre performs “The Singer and the Song”, pieces exploring sound and movement only, later invited as “And”* to the Théâtre des Nations, Paris, by Jean-Louis Barrault in 1972. Roy performs his solo “Biodrame”* by Serge Béhar.
1973 With a return to the word, RHT performs “Mariage de Lux”* by Serge Béhar (in French) and “Ich Bin”* by Paul Pörtner (in German) in London. House hunting begins with the idea of the group living and working together.
1974 Château de Malérargues is discovered offering correct facilities and good access for travel around Europe. In July, the move begins with the first seven members leaving London. The rewriting begins of Serge Béhar’s “Café de Flora” renamed “l’Economiste”*.
1975 Roy Hart arrives at Malérargues in February. Rehearsals begin in earnest, interspersed with local performances of songs, hymns and texts in the Protestant churches of the region. First performance of “L’Economiste” in Alès in April. Late April, Roy and the cast leave on tour. On 18th May, after performances in Austria and en route for Spain, Roy Hart, Dorothy Hart and Vivienne Young are killed in a fatal car crash near Nice. A few days later, they are buried in Malérargues.
more information: see Noah Pikes’ book “Dark
Roy Hart was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1926. He studied psychology and English at Witwatersrand University where he emerged as a gifted actor, and gained a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. At R.A.D.A. he was a successful student, yet he felt, "that the characters I performed so convincingly were merely figments of my imagination . . . something was lacking". His chance meeting with Alfred Wolfsohn was decisive, he abandonned a promising career in the 'West-End' theatre to study with Wolfsohn, and did not perform in public for the next seventeen years. He emerged in 1969 to a period of intense international artistic and psycho-therapeutic activity: with solo performances in Henzes' "Versuch über Schweine", Maxwell Davies' "Eight Songs for a Mad King" and Stockhausen's "Spirale"; and Euripedes "Bacchae" performed with his own company. He was guest speaker (teacher) at psycho-therapeutic and theatre congresses throughout the world: Grotowski, Peter Brook, Koestler came to speak with him in his studio in London. In 1972, he began to perform as an actor with his own company which at that time had grown to more than forty members. The Theatre company took up residence in the south of France in 1974 . Roy Hart died in a car accident while on tour in May 1975. His wife, Dorothy, and friend Vivienne Young died with him. They are buried at Malérargues.
Roy Hart's home page