Here is the advertising material for the Seminar:
Alfred Wolfsohn and Charlotte Salomon
– the unfolding story -
Seminar at the Roy Hart Centre
Malérargues, Thoiras, France
29 June to 1 July 2007
Alfred Wolfsohn inspired Charlotte Salomon to paint her own story in 1325 gouaches entitled “ Life ? or Theatre ? a play with music”. In her story, Alfred Wolfsohn is depicted under the pseudonym of Amadeus Daberlohn. Alfred Wolfsohn, whose World War I experiences left him traumatised, spent his post war years researching the voice and connections between soul and creativity. “For me, singing has always been the most primal form of artistic expression.” In “Life? Or Theatre?”, Charlotte quotes extensively from his manuscript written in the ’30s (and soon to be published for the first time!), « Orpheus or the Way to a Mask ».
Both Charlotte and Alfred Wolfsohn had to flee Berlin in 1939: Charlotte to the south of France where her grandmother’s suicide precipitated her into her creation, and Wolfsohn to London where he was later able to continue his researches on the voice. Charlotte’s own thoughts of suicide were deflected by memories of Alfred Wolfsohn, “her fervid early love”, whose words “to be able to come out of oneself, one has to go into oneself – into one’s childhood…” rung true for her. In creating “Life? Or Theatre?”, Charlotte performed a great service for humanity. Through her moving, biographical paintings, she can now inspire future generations to question their own artistic gifts and as “Daberlohn” proposed, they can “come to know themselves” and to act in the present.
Tragically, Charlotte’s past caught up with her and she was gassed in Auschwitz in October 1943. Alfred Wolfsohn knew nothing of her fate at that stage and continued to work with pupils in London. One of his pupils was a young, gifted, South African student actor, Roy Hart. When Alfred Wolfsohn died in 1962, his legacy was taken up by Roy Hart, who in his turn moved the vocal research in a more theatrical direction, creating his own company. Unlike Alfred Wolfsohn, Roy Hart did not write books, nor did he paint, but he did sing. Many of his pupils and founder members of Roy Hart Theatre are still using some of his principles, as handed down by Alfred Wolfsohn, to guide their own voice classes. It is now they who inspire their students with confidence in their own creativity and artistic potential.
And it is with this story of the evolution of this life research process or “singing process”, as highlighted by Charlotte Salomon, and as still practised by the members of Roy Hart Theatre, that we propose this Seminar at Malérargues, the centre and “home” of Roy Hart Theatre.
In the Seminar, we will introduce Alfred Wolfsohn and Charlotte Salomon, their meeting and relationship. We will present excerpts from Wolfsohn’s writings, listen to recordings, look at photos and film and we will illustrate how their words and images still have relevance and a very real place in the work of Roy Hart Theatre with their many students of voice. There will also be a presentation of theatrical research, on the themes mentioned above, by a group of students of Carol Mendelsohn and Saule Ryan of Roy Hart Theatre directed by Barbara Simonsen, a dramaturge from Aarhus, Denmark.
The documentary and audio-visual side of the Seminar will be prepared by Clara Silber Harris and Paul Silber with the help of Sheila Braggins (an ex-pupil of Alfred Wolfsohn), Kaya Anderson (who worked with Wolfsohn and Roy Hart), Noah Pikes (author of “Dark Voices: the Genesis of Roy Hart Theatre”) and Ralf Peters (a new Roy Hart voice teacher).
Programme of the Seminar
Friday 29th June:
16H : Arrival and reception.
18H: Opening event : the background to the Seminar and its aims.
Introduction to the speakers, participants and students.
Distribution of biographical notes on the principal characters of the Seminar : Alfred Wolfsohn, Charlotte Salomon and Roy Hart with a résumé of the history of his theatre to modern day.
Inauguration of the exhibitions of photos and documents from the Archives of Roy Hart Theatre. Display of books on Charlotte Salomon, including catalogues of her paintings.
20H: Aperitifs and dinner
Saturday 30th June:
9H: Vocal warm-up session open to all
9H30: Setting the scene: (i) The legacy of Alfred Wolfsohn
- Sheila Braggins: with Paul Silber introducing archival recordings.
11H Break for coffee
11H15 (ii) Charlotte Salomon’s art and inspiration:
- Sheila Braggins and Clara Silber Harris
illustrated by some of Charlotte’s paintings, and texts from Alfred Wolfsohn’s “Orpheus or the Way to a Mask” and “The Bridge”
14H30 The transmission of Alfred Wolfsohn’s legacy to Roy Hart:
- Kaya Anderson, a pupil of Alfred Wolfsohn and Roy Hart.
The Dr C.G Jung connection:
- Noah Pikes, author of “Dark Voices: The Genesis of Roy Hart Theatre”
Marita Gunther’s vital role in safe-keeping the Wolfsohn heritage:
- Paul Silber, archivist of Roy Hart Theatre.
17H Presentation of theatrical researches around themes inspired by “Life? Or Theatre?”, highlighting Alfred Wolfsohn and Charlotte Salomon’s story, by a group of students of Carol Mendelsohn and Saule Ryan of Roy Hart Theatre, directed by Barbara Simonsen, dramaturge from Aarhus, Denmark.
Followed by discussion and questions session. (See text further down the page)
20H Aperitifs and dinner
Sunday 1st July
9H Vocal warm-up session open to all.
9H30: Evolution of the singing process:
Multi-media talks with photographic projections and live demonstrations on themes used by Charlotte in “Life? or Theatre?” which were either direct quotes from “Orpheus or the Way to a Mask” or must have been transmitted by Alfred Wolfsohn to Charlotte during their talks and meetings. The speakers will illustrate how these themes have been taken forward and are still a part of the teaching today.
- Ralf Peters, Ethie Friend and other teachers and students from different epochs of the Wolfsohn-Hart teachings
11H45: Individual singing lessons with different teachers for those who wish to participate.
14H30 Continuation of the mornings subjects
plus round table discussion of the topics raised.
16H Presentation of “Orpheus or the Way to a Mask”
re-edited by Sheila Braggins and Jay Livernois : to be published 2007/8.
Co-ordinators of the Seminar: Carol Mendelsohn and Clara Silber Harris
For further information email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
With the support of the Roy Hart International Centre, Malérargues, 30140 Thoiras, France
For information on Malérargues
Life? or Theatre? : The story of Alfred Wolfsohn and Charlotte Salomon
Theatrical research and a performance project
by Danish director Barbara Simonsen
For 16 days in June, an international group of singers, performers and visual artists will be exploring the extraordinary lives and destinies of Alfred Wolfsohn and Charlotte Salomon. Using voice, theatre and visual images we will take our departure from the paintings of Salomon and the philosophical essays on art and life by Wolfsohn. The workshop ends with a work-in-progress presentation at the Seminar: a series of musical and theatrical images around the story of their brief, intense and extraordinary meeting in Berlin in 1936-37. Somehow, we hope to capture some of their remarkable genius, moving stories and their unique artistic legacy to us.
The presentation will also include the participation of several Roy Hart members: Carol Mendelsohn, Saule Ryan, Rossignol and Kaya Anderson. Workshop group: Sissel Drag (N), Ethie Friend (US), Walli Höfinger (AU), Christiane Hommelsheim (D), Núria Inglada Cardona (E), Per Ovesen (DK), Paula Molinari (BRA), Emanuella Lazzerini (I), Jesus Munoz (E).
But the theatrical research in June is only the beginning of a large-scale project, envisioning a theatrical performance on the story of Wolfsohn and Salomon as a European co-production in 2008. After the workshop in June 07, a performance project group will be formed to continue the artistic work. What the work will be is still an open question and the workshop is only the beginning of our search. The challenge lies in the meeting between a musical/theatrical expression and an enormous amount of historical/biographical material. Under no circumstances will we make a historical play with authentic costumes, a rotating stage and 20 European locations! What we are aiming at is a musical and visual performance using dialogue, narrative, video and projections, music, voice and theatrical images.
To me, the story of Wolfsohn and Salomon is in its essence a struggle between the opposing drives towards life and death, light and darkness, silence and expression. Both Wolfsohn and Salomon, each at different times in history, go through a journey to the underworld of destruction and pain to find the soul they lost, and to become a self again. And these two remarkable and gifted people are deeply connected and tragically separated at the same time.
But then again, this is also a universal story. A story of how human beings - in spite of the unbelievable horrors, holocaust and two bloody world wars that Europe suffered on its children in the 20th century - keep trying to find a way to life; to really live and not just exist! How human beings in spite of all the cruelties and destructive forces that stand in their way do not content themselves with just surviving, but make an incredible effort to find spirituality, art, love, power of life.
The stories of Salomon and Wolfsohn are stories of two such human beings who decide to find their way through pain and death to life and self, and who leave us a legacy that must never be forgotten. Just as the Holocaust must never be forgotten - and just as the amazing, healing, powerful voice work that is Wolfsohn¹s legacy to us must never be forgotten.
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