from the programme of "The Bacchae" (1969)
Photograph by Paul Silber,
Filming at the 'Abraxas' Club in Hampstead, London,
"Roy Hart theatre has developed from Roy Hart's 23 years exploration
of the voice, and the inclusive Abraxian philosophy to which this
led him. Whilst a student at Witwatersrand University South Africa
(reading psychology and English) his first stage performance as
Peer Gynt in a student production there was considered out standing.
In 1946 he came to England and won a scholarship to RADA. His training
at RADA coincided with his studies under the late Alfred Wolfsohn,
whose vision of the eight octave voice and a liberated personality
has been realised by Hart's work. Wolfsohn's philosophy was born
on the battlefields of World War one, as he heard the anguished
cries of a wounded soldier left alone to die. He realise that between
the totally embodied cry of the new-born infant and the multi-octave
scream of the adult facing death, there is a life time of stilted,
On leaving RADA, Roy Hart declined offers from the West End theatre
in order to study the relationship between voice and personality
and to consolidate his ideas on the function of theatre. In 1955
he demonstrated publicly Wolfsohn's idea of the extended voice and
at that time a Wayland Young of The Observer asked "How long will
the composer take to master this tremendous new, raw material!?"
Roy Hart has lectured at international congresses of psychotherapy
and psychodrama on the findings of his research. Seeing man as a
universe of opposites demanding expression, he set about training
the voice, through unremitting exercise of body, intellect and imagination,
to become a more efficient muscle of the human soul. To express
the turmoil opposites within the the individual safely and truthfully
that had to be a disciplined, stable structure and is structure
Roy Hart found to be growing spontaneously as more people joined
him in his dedication to a life long pursuit of a multi octave expression.
Of the 30 members of his theatre, 15 have worked with him for 12
years or more. They earn their living in various ways, not only
in the theatre, and where their meeting-place was once a simple
studio, it has now a more inclusive complex structure - the Abraxas
Club, providing squash, gymnasium, saunas, massage, weekend cabaret
shows and discotheques."
above passage is quoted in "A Celebration of Life".
Hart Theatre seeks to narrow the gap between public and private presentation
of the self, as many failures in human communication are caused by
fear of presenting the self consistently in differing situations.
As individuals become more aware and group empathy consequently more
secure, Roy Hart is able to include more of the off-stage experience
of his performers in the staged production, trusting that the cultivated
sensitivity of the performers will be able to transform these intrusions
into authentic drama. He challenges the perception of actor and audience
to look for basic human values presented in unexpected forms.
Roy Hart aims not to entertain, but to encourage each performer (and
through the performer those in the audience who are watching him)
to dare to expose the growing, groping self as it reaches out to wider
experiences, rather than to show a section of the self that has been
refined and limited as in conventional theatre. Roy Hart encourages
his performers to base their work on an inner self-respect, purged
of egotism, and to respect each other's discoveries so that they can
adapt to constant change in a production, and can absorb totally inexperienced
newcomers into the cast, and still give an intuitive yet disciplined
To educate ourselves for the rapidity of change in the society around
us, security must come from within. The theatre Roy Hart represents
is neither a straight play with a story, nor a series of "happenings",
but a meaningful collage suited to the present moment of any one performance,
and rooted in years of group work before that performance. It speaks
through a multi-dimensional, associative dream logic."
above passage is quoted in the book "A Celebration of Life".
Roy Hart Theatre
brief introduction from 1980)
Alfred Wolfsohn's death in 1962, his leading student, Roy Hart took
over the reins of the research work on the voice. Wolfsohn had concentrated
on the singing voice whereas Roy, who had trained as an actor, took
the work in a more theatrical direction. A number of his students
met regularly and they became known as 'The Group'. Then as they came
more into the public eye, they took the name 'The Roy Hart Speakers'.
In 1969, the Roy Hart Theatre made its debut with a performance of
"The Bacchae" by Euripides at the World Festival of Nancy. From this
date, the Theatre undertook a number of foreign tours, notably Jean-Louis
Barrault's invitation to the "Theatre des Nations". Due to the amount
of performances given in France and Spain, the company decided to
move to southern France. By March 1975, 46 members of the Theatre
lived in the Chateau de Malerargues. Despite the
tragic loss of Roy Hart, Dorothy and Vivienne in May 1975 and
many economic and social upheavals, the Chateau remains the World
Centre of the Theatre's vocal research. Today there are many teaching
centres all over the world; Paris, Lyon, New York, Zurich, to name
but a few.