‘THE PROPHET OF SONG’
The Life and Work of Alfred Wolfsohn
by Paul Newham with Overture by Marita Günther
published 1997 by Tigers Eye Press (London & Boston)
” Wolfsohn became Charlotte’s first love – Indeed, he was her idol; she worshipped him as a father, a lover, a teacher and a spiritual emissary. She was a highly gifted painter and Wolfsohn spent many hours nurturing her belief in the significance of her life and in the worth and value of her paintings. In fact, it was only her art that saved her from an all, consuming melancholia.
But the third and most important process of that period occurred in response to Wolfsohn’s recognition that the only way to further develop his investigation into the voice was by taking on his own students and experimenting with what he had learnt – that the voice was ‘capable of expressing itself over a much wider range, emotionally as well as dynamically’.
During his time at the Salomon residence, Wolfsohn took on a number of students, some of whose voices he believed had been ‘broken by years of wrong training’ and others whom he described as having ‘suffered mental damage’. Referring to this latter category Wolfsohn wrote:
” I discovered that you cannot make progress and succeed unless you are able to correct and alleviate the mental damage they suffered, to build up their belief in themselves and their own strength.”
His development during that time brought him to formulate a fundamental link between the artistic process of singing and the psychological maturation of the individual. ”
Paul Newham, London 1997
Voix de l’inouï – Le travail de la voix au Roy Hart Théâtre, hier et aujourd’huiMarianne Ginsbourger, 2000
Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.
Paul Silber was the lone survivor of the tragic accident in 1975 which ended the lives of Roy Hart, his wife Dorothy, and the actress VivienneYoung. This book is a home-edition, embellished by original writings and sketches. In it Silber looks at the life and person of Roy Hart and his wife Dorothy. It comes with a CD of extracts of previously unedited sound recordings of Roy and Dorothy, compiled from the Roy Hart Theatre archives.
Price: 20 euros (includes postage and handling)
Contact Paul Silber at e-mail
Nota Bene: Available only as an ebook and CD. The limited edition of 100 copies of this publication have been sold out.
Dark Voices: The Genesis of Roy Hart Theatre
A NEW AND REVISED EDITION
by Noah Pikes
Published June 1st 2004 by Spring Journal, Inc.
Paperback, 174 pages
Price: 25 euros
George Steiner called him a genius. Harold Pinter saw an enormous creative intelligence, Peter Brook a unique theatre researcher. Composers Maxwell Davies, Henze, and Stockhausen were all inspired by his six octave voice. However R. D. Laing, founder of “anti-psychiatry,” refused to hop, skip, and jump for him. His name was Roy Hart. He was the inspiration for an artistic community from about fifty diverse and disaffected individuals which brought art into life and more life into art. That group became the Roy Hart Theatre and Pikes was a founding member of it.
Dark Voices shows how the current interest in voice–its origins, its potential for extension, for therapy, and personal development–began with the pioneering work of Hart and his teacher Alfred Wolfsohn. After WWI Wolfsohn seemed to suffer from “war neurosis” (now known as post-traumatic stress syndrome) and found a cure through his own voice. As a Berlin Jew, he had to escape to London in 1939 where he continued to work on his voice research. Dark Voices quotes from interviews and Wolfsohn’s own unpublished writings to present his vision of “The Voice of the Future” and its place in his ideas on human psychology.
Dark Voices tells Wolfsohn’s and Hart’s remarkable stories, their ideas, practices, and achievements, as well as of Pikes’ own path through a dark night of the soul to get to the Roy Hart group of the 60s.
This first volume of Dark Voices ends in 1975 when the group sells everything they have in London and moves into a half-ruined château in the south of France. Shortly afterwards tragedy strikes the group. A second volume will relate how they survived this tragedy and became an internationally acclaimed theatre company valued for their teaching and technique; aspects of their work which continues to the present day.
by Amy Rome
Currently Amy Rome’s post-doctoral research rooted in both the praxes of fundamental Roy Hart and it’s development through Pantheatre’s approaches, examining the relations between voice and body, is available at:
What is the voice embodied? How is it possible to understand the voice as a gesture: a movement perceived as body? What are the creative processes of expressing voice? An interdisciplinary study into the artistic training and performance of voice, the aim of this thesis is to explore these research questions by examining three contemporary voice practitioners in conjunction with my practice. The practitioners, Noah Pikes, Enrique Pardo, and Linda Wise, are original members from the Roy Hart Theatre (1969-1990). Founded in the 1960s on the pioneering work of the German musician and voice teacher Alfred Wolfsohn (1896-1962), Roy Hart and the Roy Hart Theatre extended Wolfsohn’s distinctive interdisciplinary approach to voice training within theatre practice. This investigation brings together the practices of Pikes, Pardo, and Wise for the first time to explore a lineage of Wolfsohn and Hart’s work. Examining the practitioners’ interdisciplinary methodological approaches to voice training and performance, the research reveals how these original members of the Roy Hart Theatre are challenging conventional methodologies to the way in which the voice of the actor-singer-dancer is trained through practice.
If you want to know more contact: Amy Rome
Wege zur Stimme
Reisen ins menschliche Stimmfeld
Unverzagt Verlag, Köln 2008
English résumé of my book “Wege zur Stimme” (paths to the voice)
The book is divided in two big parts, the first under the title “Voice and Thinking”, the second entitled “Voice and Personality”.
In the first part I try to talk about the philosophy of the voice, whatever that can mean. I start with a chapter about the question how we can talk about the voice at all. What kind of subject is “the” voice? I use an idea of Gilles Deleuze and F. Guattari who write about the distinction between copy and map. The old way of philosophy was like making a copy of the things they were intersted in. But since there are great doubts if the mind is able to copy the world philosophers look for other ways of describing what we do if we think as philosophers. Drawing a map – the suggestion of Deleuze – is one way that seem to fit to the thinking of the voice very well. If we draw a map it is something that can be prooved only if one goes into the “countries” or fields that are described in this map. So it doesn´t make sense just to read about the voice. You have to use it, if you want to know something about it and the map can be a good orientation, but not the “truth”. (It is not easy to give a short abstract about this issue. But for me Deleuze has been very helpful. Although he never talks about the voice of course!)
In the next chapter I show that the voice has never been a subject for philosophers in our history. It was always seen as part of a language theory, in other words, the voice has always been in the shade of the language. You can say this started with Platon (but one could also start with Parmenides or others). I talk about his view (!) on the voice, later about Herder, who was one of the first who saw the meaningful qualities of the voice independent from the language. Then about Derrida who started to make the voice to a subject in french Philosophy although he was more interested in written language.
In the next chapter I discuss the concepts of the so called beautiful voice in european history. I talk about the voice of the castratos, of the angels, and of the moment when the women came on the scene to sing. Afterwards I try to explain Wolfsohns idea of the whole voice or the human voice and I use some ideas of Nietzsche to make it clearer. Not so much the thoughts that Nietzsche had about the voice, although they are very close to Wolfsohn, but Nietzsches way of thinking morality. His attempt to think from the other side of good and evil. This is very much like Wolfsohn trying to find the human voice without judging about beautiful or ugly.
Then I talk again about the way philosophers could think about the voice and I present the idea of a “singing philosopher”, because I am sure that one cannot understand the human voice in only thinking about it, you also have to use it yourself!
Then I talk a bit about my idea of the “Stimmfeld” the voice field, in which all possibilities of the voice are potentially there and structured in some form.
The second part of my book starts with a discussion about the image of the voice as a mirror of the soul. I do not agree with this image and I would prefer to call the voice an echo of the soul.
Then I discuss the idea of the strange parts in the voice that seem not to belong to oneself.
The next chapter is about “physiognomie”, a kind of strange “science” that began with Aristoteles, was pretty important during the time of enlightment in Germany and in the beginning of the 20th century. It is about the idea that the body (and the voice) can tell you something of the character of a human being. So for instance the form of your head can give you information about your inner qualities. This is an idea not far from what we do in the voice work, because we see a relation between voice and personality, but the relation we are interested in is very different from what physiognomy wants to say. We have to be aware that in the singing process the voice – with its stories behind – always is confronted with an ear that has its own history of listening. What you hear tells you something about the listener as much as the voice tells you about the singer!
Then I talk about voice in modern Psychology in the beginning of the 20th century when some people started to use voice recordings to analyze voices. Karl Bühler, a psychologist and philosopher from Vienna is one of them, Paul Moses an other one. Again the result of the discussion is my conviction that analysing the voice in a scientific way doesn´t lead to valuable knowledge about the voice. Valuable for the process of liberating the voice. You need to have the relation of singer and listener with their stories behind and not a scientist who stays behind.
The next chapter is about the idea of a healthy voice. What could this mean? Are there relations to the idea of the liberated voice?
In the last chapter I talk a about the art of the extended voice. What is the artistic value of the voice we are looking for? Do we have to look for meaningful sounds? I say: yes, but people like John Cage (who I adore very much) says no!
Here I discuss Roy Harts big contribution to the extended voice art and I compare it with Antonin Artaud. In between this chapters there are three letters that I have adressed to Alfred Wolfsohn, in which I tell my story of looking for my voice and at least partly finding it. There are also small anectdotes, stories, thoughts and quotations added everywhere in the book.
The article is reprinted with permission from the “Voice and Speech Review”, where it was first printed in 2009.
Deep Song–A Personal Journey into Ecstatic Voice and the Art of Vocal Lamentation
Twenty years down the road of my life as an actor and theatre voice trainer, I found myself, Persephone-like, standing at the edge of a precipice searching the darkness for mysteries obscured by the bright lights of structured progressions and methodologies that had supported me for so long. My experience with voice and singing was governed by solid, well-organized systems designed to promote healthy, focused, resonant, conventionally acceptable sounds. Anything “other” was strictly outcast. Whether acting in classic or contemporary plays in regional theatre or teaching in professional actor training programs, I had begun to feel caged in, held hostage by the culturally accepted uses of the voice and thwarted by the limits and restrictions of theatre voice training as I understood it. Something was missing. Words–inspiring, forceful, magical words–called me and enticed me into the theatre along with soaring passions, aching truths and stories that careened from the heights of rapture to the depths of despair. But where was the howl beneath Medea’s rage-filled curses? The scream of Juliet’s horrified “Stay Tybalt, stay!” The groans of Hamlet’s existential tirades, or the barely concealed hysteria of Amanda Wingfield’s desperate effort to force her dreams upon her disaffected offspring?
Like the poet and feminist, Adrienne Rich, I hungered for “…more crazy mourning, more howl, more keening”. I yearned to hear sounds that would reveal the rough truths beneath the word, and was frustrated by a culture that seemed satisfied with a logos divorced from the naked hunger that impelled it. If I felt that our voices were shackled and marginalized expressing conventional truths, even when words and situations were explosive, I was not alone, as I recognized this same desire for full-throttle vocal expression in some of the actors that I trained. I wanted to tear open forms and expose the primal impulses, the underbelly beneath carefully crafted words; I wanted sounds that cut to the bone.
I occasionally heard sounds that expressed this longing–in uninhibited, raucous laughter or in unleashed fury in street brawls, sometimes from animals, occasionally in open-throated singing, but seldom on stage. If the words existed to describe these sounds–words like shrieking, howling, crazed, guttural, raspy and earsplitting–then the sounds must also be somewhere out there. Hiding under a rock or at the bottom of the abyss, perhaps? I needed to hear those sounds, sing and celebrate those sounds and invite others to the party. Where was Hades when I needed him? Well, if he wasn’t going to come and abduct me, introduce me to the mysteries of the vocal underworld, I would have to make the journey on my own.
The voice is like a mountain with many caves; go into all the different caves there are.
– Peter Brook
The first stage of my quest led me to the mountains of North Carolina in 1990 for a 6-day immersion into the Alfred Wolfsohn/Roy Hart Theatre approach to the voice. What I experienced there exasperated and confused me, and cracked open the ground of all I held sacred about the voice, inviting me into the hidden mysteries. Time-honored “truths”, my sanctuary of assurances, in short, nothing less than my hard-earned pedagogy, was now suspect. For example, the Wolfsohn/Hart “singing lesson” was not prescriptive, nor limited to gender-specific modalities of the singer’s range. Instead, the whole voice became an arena for excavation. Body, sound and psyche were a trinity through which sound was accessed, often resulting in the willing abandonment of our commonly held principles of “healthy” vocal production. Participants vocalized every conceivable sound (including some that were inconceivable to us at the time). Both sounder and witnesses were engaged in the surrender and struggle either to audibly express or consciously internalize the heights, depths, beauty, beast, agony and ecstasy of their inner world. In this setting, I discovered and freely reveled in sounds that could genuinely reveal the darkness of Medea’s rage, such as those “broken” and “corded” utterances hiding in the silent cavern, the “break”, between my head and chest voice. Or her shattered mother’s love expressed in the sublime simplicity of the angelic soprano released on the descent from peeps and squeaks exhumed from soundings explored in the uppermost octave of the piano.
Another epiphany came when, in an attempt to connect to my low “masculine” pitches and timbres, I unwittingly began to vocalize the unsounded groans of silent labors and birth events of my children many years earlier. Emerging from these experiences, I knew that I would never be satisfied with less than the essence of my whole Self revealed through my voice. The well-acted, but polite, sounds uttered in the theatre would no longer suffice.
I questioned my ability to integrate this new experience into my known world. Would these sounds have meaning for other actors and audiences? Do they, too, secretly long for the precarious edges of vocal expression? Could I eventually utter sounds that I heard from others but that my own body refused to access? How would I pursue this principle of the 8-octave voice in a world of the uninitiated? Did I have the stamina and will to pursue further training and incorporate it in my teaching? These were some of the questions that followed me down the mountain from this transformative week. To say I understood little about this approach to voice would be exceedingly generous; understanding and integration would be long process. I had arrived hoping for a bit of inspiration and unwittingly found myself an initiate. It seemed that I now had a choice–savor the memory of this experience and move on, or forge a new relationship with my voice and teaching methodology that would be neither easily satisfied nor augmented. I chose the latter.
In addition to continued study with Roy Hart teachers in the US and France, I immediately sought ways to expand the boundaries of my personal performance work. This included singing with a small group of classically trained, Boston musicians who were exploring a variety of musical languages, including microtonal sound art compositions. The instruments included steel cello, bowed cymbals and other metal objects, flute, violin and a glass organ tuned to a symmetrical twenty-three tone octave. Over a period of four years, we performed these sound art pieces in experimental theatre venues, offering me the opportunity to break out of constricting forms as I explored “extended” voice merged with microtonal singing. Singing microtones proved a challenge for me, since my western ear faithfully guided me to familiar harmonic modes such as thirds and fifths. But the leader of this group, an innovative and determined musician, helped me learn to hear and sing “between the notes”. I found the exploratory tone of this unconventional work to be both personally and artistically liberating. Our inquiries evolved to include texts that would invite extreme vocal use while telling recognizable stories; the works of Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, and classical arias (deconstructed) were among them.
During this time, I was also incorporating Roy Hart-style training into my MFA theatre voice classes. To provide them with a forum to apply their extreme voice training, as well as challenge my own ideas about its practical use, I directed a non-traditional production of Garcia Lorca’s, Yerma. We searched for ways to audibly reveal the chaos smoldering just below the surface of the rational syntax of language, and to express it within the context of a full-length play. The evocative artistic use of extended voice by the actors in this production confirmed for me the primacy of voice, in all its colors, as an undervalued, creative element in theatre.
Reach your hand deep into life and what comes up is your subject matter.
The theme of the suppression of the human voice in our culture, mirrored in the theatre, continued to feed my shifting pedagogy as I pursued new inspirations and directions for performance opportunities. In 1999, while researching a new theatre project based upon the earliest mythology surrounding Medea, I uncovered a link (of which I had been unaware) between the ancient, legalized silencing of women and what I perceived as the deeply entrenched and ongoing silencing of women across cultures–in homes, churches and synagogues, the street and the work place.
This link connects us back to the 6th century BC when the physical and vocal presence of women was being systematically outlawed from the public arena for the “good” of the burgeoning democracy. The final gag was securely in place when the Athenian lawmaker, Solon, silenced the last legal expression of women’s voice allowed in public–her free participation in public funerary events–her vocal rites of lamentation.
What was so powerful, so threatening about this form of female vocal expression that it had to be silenced? Could it be that feminine sound was detrimental to emerging ideas of democracy? More urgently, what exactly was this fear-inducing sound produced by grieving mothers, daughters and wives? What was ritual lamentation and why was it so dangerous to organized society? The concepts and multi-cultural expressions of misogyny were not unfamiliar to me, but I had understood it primarily in relationship to the personhood of woman. Now I wondered how much it also related to her unique vocal timbres and ways of expressing herself: to her mystery, her ungovernable, unquenchable lust for life and her uniquely un-masculine contribution to it? What was it about her voice–literally and metaphorically–that was so dangerous?
Detailed examination of these questions lies beyond the scope of this essay and can be found in numerous resources (some, suggested at the end of this piece). However, three things called me into this new crack in the earth: the possibility of discovering and liberating the censored voices of ancient lamentation, its creative potential in actor training and theatre performance, and its relevance to the principle of Roy Hart’s “8-octave ideal” for voice and life. The preceding years of vocal exploration would be the candle to light my descent into the underworld of taboo vocal lamentation.
This journey has taken me from ancient Greece and Israel where both men and women once practiced public expressions of lament freely and unashamedly (called moirologia and quinah respectively), to pre-Christian Celtic Isles where the sharp cries of female mourners (caoineadah or keening) announced and accompanied the death-watch among friends and neighbors, to its eventual silencing in these lands. Embedded deep within cultures around the globe–from the Balkans to Scotland, from the Tamil women of Southern India to South America and Africa–mourning practices survive in public gatherings of women (and men) who continue to sing, chant, weep, protest, rage, blame and bargain while their physical acts of breast-beating, hair-tearing, rhythmic swaying, and knocking on graves, bravely sound the cries of human bereavement. The loss of this oral tradition is felt most keenly in areas where the logos word, defined by reason and persuasion, reigns supreme and the Mother Tongue, the primary voice of women, has been supplanted. This is evident in most of Western Europe, the US and the many countries where imperialistic influence dominated throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
The suppression of public women mourners exists more vehemently in countries where religion and politics joined hands to curb the influence of women, the Middle East and Ireland, among them. Purposeful, active and assertive, public lamentation was indeed dangerous to the established order within some communities. For example, for centuries, Greek women used the passionate vocal sounds joined to highly structured, poetic laments to claim their right to the body, story, and property of dead males and to stir the family to revenge, releasing violence upon violence, as seen in the Mani clans of the Peloponnese. Although frowned upon by the religious and political structures of recent history, in many rural parts of Greece and the world, the age-old lament songs still resound at funerals, and women continue to assert their birthright to live out loud. When placed in the context of duty, tradition and disempowerment, is it any wonder that women still cling to this ancient tradition, holding sacred the public, aural expression of their deep song in its richness and glory?
I was provoked and fascinated by the craft required and artistry inherent in these varied traditions of lamentation ceremonies. They offered uncharted territories for investigation and a way to broaden my venture to vocal boundary breaking; not least of all, it offered significant potential for theatrical impact. That this genre requires a certain audacity, galvanizes and unleashes strong energies and provokes powerful responses in the listener–in a way no rational argument can hope to accomplish–all became stellar reasons to pursue its voice, unearth it, and return it to the vocabulary of modern life and theatre.
The artist never really knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
–Agnes de Mille
The early stages of my research were governed by the written word, including an array of academic writers, ancient Greek plays and poetry, the Old and New Testaments, modern fiction, films, ethnic stories, indigenous musical styles, and interviews with foreign-born friends and students from lamenting cultures. I quickly learned that, despite the range of resources available about lamentation, aural models of it are scarce; its beauty and terrors lie submerged beneath mountains of the written word. My search would demand a deeper descent into the intuitive muck of creation if I was going to unearth the particular sounds, melodies, timbres, rhythms and structural forms of lamentation across cultures, physically embody them, and give them voice.
To that end, I initiated a formal time of study with a game and gifted group of MFA actors (Brandeis class of 2002), with two years of extended voice work to undergird our venture. Their third year of voice training provided an opportunity to branch out from my established pedagogy; and ritual lament seemed like a solid training opportunity for all of us.
In this familiar environment, I led the graduate actors (and they led me) through explorations of the physical life, sounds, images and stories I had culled from a wide variety of descriptions and snippets of samples. We worked with personal, metaphorical and theatrical scenarios. They sang, wailed, howled, barked and sobbed out original responses to my novice offerings. Guided by ancient Greek structures, we explored group aspects of lament, working with antiphony, drones, soloist with choral support and free improvisation. We played with vocal ornamentations and timbres and musical elements found in ethnic and non-western vocal traditions, many of them familiar from my previous forays into ethnic music. All found new application when incorporated into lament. For example, we practiced singing slightly up from the note, a method used in Russian peasant singing, or singing in the high, light head voice, familiar in Japanese female singing. To find the “cacophonous” quality of lament, we practiced singing off-key, using a known melody to contain us. We explored the provocative sounds available in the cracks, peeps and register breaks of the voice. In doing so, we developed new listening skills, expanded individual vocal expressiveness, and exploded formerly held beliefs about what constitutes “beautiful” music making. For my part, I found a bridge to the ancient sisterhood of the female voice and secured my commitment to wander further from established assumptions about acceptable theatre voice work.
The occasional stumble defined new learning opportunities. As an example, it quickly became apparent that the emotionally available, highly sensitive actor needed stronger structures than I provided in the early stages. Emotional reactions would, of course, arise in response to the evocative music that we were making, but they were never “manufactured” or encouraged for their own sake. Avoiding personal histories, or theatrical events that mirrored them, was important for the willing lamenter and led to establishing metaphor as the foundation for the work. Additionally, an ethic of self-care became fundamental to protect the over-eager. The work was exhilarating and, I believe, deepened the intimacy among the group as we explored this terra incognita together. Fumbling about together deepened our trust for each other and respect for the value of our mutual pilgrimage.
These were baby steps, but from this work I developed a template that could be used to invite interested parties to accompany my own odyssey into the world of lamentation. In my experience, the absence of effective vocal lamentation expressed in theatre productions was evidence that many actors and directors were uninitiated in the process and possibilities of this style of communication and were, more than likely, even a bit intimidated by its power and force. As an actress in mainstream theatre, I had always been unsure how far I dared go in a given rehearsal or performance and without a structure, form and permission to support me, I seldom dared to push the limits. I have often heard this dilemma recounted by other actors. So, offering my investigation to colleagues in the theatre to assess their appetite for lamentation seemed like a natural next stage in the journey.
The theme of the 2002 Giving Voice Festival in Wales, UK was the ‘voice politic’. This international festival provided an appropriate setting in which to introduce my approach to lamentation to theatre practitioners. This inaugural 3-day workshop, and those that followed, validated the importance of this work within the profession and confirmed my conviction that others would find the realms of lamentation personally invigorating, vocally challenging and applicable to theatre training and production. Equally true was the larger belief that by exploring lamentation practices and sharing our deep songs in community, we could awaken a visceral connection to our ancient stories and stir a desire to enlarge the too-small images we often hold of ourselves. Dangerous voices…indeed!
Wisdom comes to us in fragments. –Aeschylus
Early in my process, I discovered an invaluable lesson: the array of lamentation languages is only one side of the coin, since heightened vocal expression takes many shapes. Flip the coin and along with the sobs and howls of rage and desolation, blame and bargaining, live the cries and shrieks of euphoria, exultation, and blessing. These, too, open the voice, body and imagination of the would-be lamenter, giving a needed balance to the darker world of lamentation. And so I broadened the scope of the work to more actively embrace the joyous side of ecstatic voice.
This understanding of the two-sided coin was reinforced by the Hebrew expression of complaint and lament viewed through the Biblical Psalms, which also suggested valuable insights into structure. Unlike the capricious gods and goddesses of the neighboring Greeks, the Hebrews believed they followed a personal God who, upon hearing their voices, would ultimately deliver justice and mercy. This invited a no-holds barred verbal exchange with their God. The passion and vehemence of their lament songs were considered an act of worship. The form of these complaint psalms, however, is not one of unboundaried rage and anger. As evidenced in Euripides, Medea, and through the ages to the cyclical blood feuds recorded among the Mani clans of the Peloponnese, a limited focus on vengeance and retribution isolates the aggrieved and unleashes powerfully destructive forces.
Lament psalms characteristically move from a vigorous expression of outrage or complaint, to petitions, and then to an expression of personal pain. This progression eventually resolves into rejoicing and thanksgiving for God’s past faithfulness and, even while in the throws of anguish, hope for the future. This structure provided an emotional evolution for the grieving process, thus preventing them from getting “stuck” in an endless cycle of anger or self-pity. In conditions of anguish, this process may have been repeated time and time again, but the initial vocal, emotional dissonance always found harmony in the hope of awaited rescue.
As we navigate the territories of lamentation today and apply it to actor training and production, this ancient structure, developed by these nomadic people of the Middle East, reminds us of the need for balance. Like most explorers, we search the mysteries and chaos of the darkness in order to serve a larger goal–that is, to ascend and give form to the truths we discovered there.
In the next section I will suggest components of lament and a few guiding principles for developmental exploration. With regard to the voice, I will offer an overview and a palate of vocal sounds without attempting to describe them in detail. Trained voice users will have their own methodologies for accessing the voice and I will leave this to each one’s particular understanding of the voice. I will use the terms exercise and inquiry interchangeably to describe exploratory approaches. I do not intend to suggest that what I offer is the right way, it is an evolving approach that emerged from ten years of studio work with theatre practitioners and curious participants from a wide range of nationalities, ages and experience. And while I believe it has elements that will serve interested parties from many backgrounds and sensibilities, the primary guidepost for me continues to be its application to actor training and theatre production. My approach to practice and training remains an investigative process; there is no formula.
Part 2: Guiding Principles for Exploring Ecstatic Voice and Lamentation
The soul’s joy lies in doing. –Elenora Dusa
I have chosen not to introduce available primary samples of lamentation early in a workshop setting, as I want to avoid limiting the participants’ unique vocal and imaginative responses. We work from a blueprint consisting of basic principles including: a wide variety of timbres, placements and ornamentation; traditional and imaginative metaphors and visual pictures; social norms and commonly used musical structures. Guided by this template, the novice lamenter will discover his particular path to lament. Without fail, each working situation results in stunning and original improvised compositions. Starting from the standpoint of asking questions rather than providing answers, I save listening to primary source examples for the end of the workshop.
Journey in Myth and Metaphor
Due to the heightened nature of ecstatic voice and its application to lamentation, I have found that placing the work solidly within a theatrical setting serves a very important purpose. For the participant who has some trepidation about the personal nature of the work and concerns about the potential for invasive psychological tampering, framing our explorations as a mythological and metaphorical journey offers reassurance because imagination becomes the resource material rather than excavating personal misfortunes. In much the same way that the center circle of the ancient Greek stage was a sacred space to be tread upon carefully, so the work of lament invites special treatment. Giving voice to deep wellsprings within may be therapeutic at times, but it is not therapy. Establishing a “sacred” space within a framework of storytelling plants our feet on solid ground while, at the same time, freeing us to soar upward.
Like Odysseus, we, too, have encountered hardships on our journeys “home” to the deep song of lament. Our starting point becomes an active, private reflection upon this odyssey. For example: What mountains, waters or plains did you cross (e.g. literal: the Appalachian mountains, or metaphorical: mountains of fear, the waters of self doubt)? Whom did you leave behind (loved ones, responsibilities, unresolved conflicts, or the “critic” that prevents personal growth process)? What sacrifices did you make (emotional, personal, financial, logistical)? What “siren” called you to this place (new adventure, a retreat for self-care, a need to howl, laugh and shriek in a “held” environment, or the mystery of unknown yearnings)?
I agree with Frankie Armstrong’s compelling assertion that singing is the birthright of all. To that, I would add howling, sobbing, raucous laughter, screeching with ecstasy and moaning our sorrows. Many of us have lost touch with these harmless sounds so integral to our health and wellbeing. Like La Loba, the wise old woman who wanders the earth collecting bones, the lamenter also has “bones” to sing over and breathe back to life. According to the myth of La Loba, when she had gathered enough bones, she revived them with singing and witnessing until, transformed, they were able to move back out into the world alive and whole again. Developing a working relationship to the components of lament, within a controlled environment, offers men and women the opportunity to sing over the bones of their lives–the hopes deferred, the abandoned dreams, the disappointments–and, in the process, renew their vitality (See Suggestions for Exploration). Because it is deep, personal, and occasionally precarious work, our approach requires a healthy dose of humility and self-awareness, the permission to work at our own pace, and a theatrical scaffolding to support us.
Components Of Lament
Free Air: Breathiness
One problem I needed to address before I could successfully share the lamentation work with others was how to facilitate a safe, but expeditious, journey to the vocal edges inherent in lamentation for those participants inexperienced in the practice of extended voice. Many elements of Roy Hart extended voice work have been valuable.
The use of free air, or breathiness, is one example. In the lament workshops, I have found that it serves two essential purposes. First, vocalizing with an abundance of breathiness stimulates and connects the vocalist to her breath by inviting its generous release and replenishment. Second, singing with free air helps melt tensions, whether they result from anxiety or an established pattern of vocal push or strain. An attribute seldom encouraged by traditional Anglo-American theatre or musical voice training, breathiness invites access to the soft, vulnerable qualities of the voice and subtly invites the singer into both physical and emotional states of release. Combine the warming, releasing and healing qualities of free air and it is easy to imagine its value as a stepping-stone to ecstatic voice.
Additionally, I apply this free breath to vocalized images of cooing, sighing, mountain winds, the child-like timbre of a disembodied head resonance (think Marilyn Monroe without the sex) and the airy quality of the flute. These sounds prepare the singer to play with the flutter-like, unstable pitch fluctuations evident in mourning practices. Taken a step further, when connected to rhythmic breath inhalations and images of sobbing, these breathy sounds open a gateway to the high pitches of anguished weeping, eruptions of wailing, and the “Greek screams” written into ancient tragedies (such as the familiar, “aiee”). Connected, unforced, free breath is a starting point for the limitless range of colors invited by lamentation.
Sound Stands Alone
In actual fact, the soundscape used to create expressions of mourning is emotionally neutral, and can be explored purely for pleasure and discovery. Freed from expectations to emote, each student is able to gauge her own readiness to enter the risky territory of full imaginative engagement when intentions, actions, and strong points of view are added later in the process. Further, the actor is encouraged to side step those hazards caused by forced emotionality, namely squeezing or pressing the vocal mechanism.
…laughing and crying / you know its the same release
Laughing is a cornerstone of my personal approach to all voice work. It engages the breathing muscles and warms the voice. Laughter calls us into play, fosters a genial, sharing atmosphere, softens our over-achieving inclinations, and helps create the empathetic, communal space so crucial for “holding” the work of lament.
We all know how to laugh; there is no right or wrong way. And its anarchic quality makes it a good partner for lamenting. From the beginning, I have used it as a way into sobbing. Early in the process the actors learns that, with little more than a change of point of view, the same sounds associated with laughter and joy become sounds of anguish, grief and rage–the reverse being equally true. Listening with eyes closed establishes that, without visual clues, it is often impossible to distinguish sounds of sorrow from sounds of hilarity, further reinforcing the assurance that it is not necessary to experience extreme emotions in order to practice lamenting.
Shifting Points of View
The voice is only one element in the story-telling process; context and physical gestures will greatly assist the lamenter’s intended purpose. For this reason, I invite the actor to explore point of view shifts in the earliest inquiries, one of the first being laughing/crying. We will continue to shift points of view as we explore all other vocal components. It does not matter whether the actor is moaning low in the chest resonance, ululating high in the head resonance, or exploring broken sounds, I continue to reinforce the power of the point of view as the primary source of communication, not emotion.
Group Work and the Issue of Vocal Fatigue
Another challenge is that many colors of lament are placed in and around the passaggio, the transition area (“gear shift” or “break”) between the chest and head voice. This area offers a rich palate of sound possibilities, but because it is a part of the voice frequently avoided (even by trained professionals), the vocalist may tire quickly. Additionally, bright, high-pitched “feminine” sounds–in both women and men–are a prominent vocal feature of lamentation. These, too, can be tiring, but because they are also exhilarating, many participants would work in this area for prolonged periods, if allowed. It is important to limit the amount of time devoted to any given area of vocal exploration to avoid preventable stress.
I remind participants that it is natural to tire when exploring a new or different kind of vocal/physical expression. Experiencing fatigue at the end of a session is neither a sign of damage nor a signal that the participant has worked improperly. When extending the usual mode of voice work, the student may, indeed, not always work in a “clean”, perfectly healthy manner. I believe that it is possible to be too careful and that, in order to embrace the boundaries of any work, we have to be willing to falter and flail a bit. Vocal damage results from repeated misuse and a few miss-starts will not produce lasting effects. I also reinforce to the participants that they are the custodians of their process; they are working for their own personal interests and growth and are free to limit participation in whatever ways they feel necessary.
When the participants enter into small group work, I suggest that they work with the vocabulary of sound that they are able to produce fairly easily on a given day and save the less accessible sounds for another time. This helps avoid potential problems for the over-eager who may be inclined to force the voice to generate sounds before the body and psyche are able to support them.
It is also important to note that since most of my workshops range in number from ten to twenty (or more) participants, they must be cautioned not to “compete” to be heard in the large group; this is a subtle and often, unconscious impulse. It is best to avoid a prolonged interval of large group work. I prefer to introduce elements of lament vocabulary, allowing the group to explore them as a whole, and then break into small groups for further experimentation, incorporating the established vocabulary in relationship to others. Consistently placing the various vocal aspects of lament into a structure, with communication at its center, reinforces the active and communal characteristics of lament while providing short resting times when the group is listening and witnessing the explorations of others.
Whole Voice Playground–Warming Up and Preparation
Playful warming up body and voice in preparation for lamentation include:
• loosening and softening the body; grounding legs and feet; opening ribs; releasing the pelvis and engaging the abdominal muscles
• integrating sound and breath: panting, light and dark breath; toning, sighing, warming, glides and glissandos; easy exploration of range and timbres of the voice, i.e., what’s readily available?
• chuckling, laughing, guffawing
• warming up different resonating chambers
Registers, Resonance and Timbre
For simplicity, when referencing vocal registers, I will use the familiar terms head voice (including soprano or feminine sounds in both women and men), and chest voice to describe the area of the voice used primarily for speaking by both men and women. Despite their subjectivity, I will rely upon commonly used words for qualities of resonance and timbre–light, soft, dark, warm, bright, nasal, and so on.
Beyond our dependency upon the breath to carry vibrations of the voice, the sound of breath itself can be exploited for aesthetic and dramatic effect. It serves as a rhythmic component or, as mentioned above, as a source of aural color (dark breath or light breath).
Spoken, Sung, Chanted and Declaimed Voice
Used in combination and in a continuum, the lamenter blurs the boundaries of these vocal alternatives, leaping or gliding from one to another, exploiting one element or blending them, as he is inspired. For example, in heightened moments, spoken text expands to declamation or sung sounds. The ecstatic eruptions of the ancient Greek scream flow more organically from the vocal energy behind declaimed text than from conventional delivery.
Before the lamenter works with scripted language, we explore moving through the elements of lament vocabulary by employing our own invented “babble” language and combining it with intentions and points of view. I use the term babble to describe any variation of spoken, chanted, or sung sound released on a stream of changing vowel shapes with consonants added to imitate language. Often referred to as “gibberish”, the babble stream takes on a resemblance to language when it is influenced by the speech rhythms that flow naturally from intentionality and points of view. Unhindered by literal, logos words and their contextual meaning, the actor is freed to bypass the intellect and express from a more primal state.
The use of animal imagery is common in traditional laments. The wide variety of sounds emitted by birds are wonderfully provocative–from high, light cooing to dark, screeching soprano qualities–so I include this imagery in the vocal explorations. Poetically, wolves represent those on the outer margins of society, the outlaws, and are frequent images found in Greek poetry depicting this status. Archetypically, the howling wolf calls to the disenfranchised loner in our psyche. For men and women, howling like wolves offers inspiration and open throated access to strong, free colors in the voice. Additionally, access to resonance colors though the imagery of dogs barking and bears growling holds a central place in my approach to the work.
Singing Off Key
For most of my workshop participants, the notion of singing “off key” is an easily recognized departure from the norms of western musical standards, including our cultural assumptions about tuning, melody and harmony. However, because it is difficult to communicate the emotional dislocation of grief or outrage on the beautifully sung harmonies to which our ears are accustomed, I exploit singing off key as an effective means of embracing the dissonances involved in certain aspects of lament. By establishing a melodic line, the singers can explore bending it musically and blending dissonances with others. This simple inquiry forms the basis for a number of vocal inquiries that follow.
Call, Cries and Clamors
Calls are generally full-voiced expressions directed to animals, humans and divinities. Herding peoples create individual calls “understood” and followed by their flocks. In the human realm, we recognize them from the stentorian quality of the train conductor’s “all-aboard” to rural calls summoning men to their labor. The heart-stopping beauty of the Muslim call to prayer echoing across city streets is another example. Cries express the full range of ecstatic sounds emitted by an individual. They include a range of whoops and yips of both joy and anguish. Wavering, high-pitched cries called ululations are commonly heard throughout Africa, the Middle East and parts of India. These utterances, emitted in worship and secular celebrations, are also used in war cries. Clamor describes multiple cries of a group. The power of three or more wailing women crying out in pulsing, high pitched, dissonant sounds affirms the potential of this “weaker vessel” to ignite revenge and violent reprisals within her community. Equally powerful is the danger suggested by the clamor of male voices rising in war cries or public gatherings of protest.
Open Hearted Chest Resonance
This timbre of this sound is most often found in the ethnic singing styles of Eastern Europe, Slavic people, and the Middle East. It is a strong, open, free sound. The quality was developed, in part, from calling across mountains and fields, as it carries well. The singing group Kitka and a wide ranges of traditional Balkan music magnificently render this particular resonance. It requires an open throat, full body connection, strong breath support and deep physical relaxation. When applied to this vocal quality, ornamentations broaden the lamenter’s vocabulary.
Strong Feminine / Soft Feminine Sounds
Working with strong feminine sounds in all accessible parts of the actor’s head range is both empowering and energizing. It is also an important element in our vocabulary. Once the actor has warmed up her voice, the possibilities in this register are limitless. Hooting and howling in the higher pitches (the OO sound helps locate it firmly on the hard palate) opens easy access for many women and men. With the hoot/howl, explore adding strong pulses and sob qualities; alternate these with light, soft soprano sounds for variations.
Within the strong feminine placement lie a plethora of heart-rending, evocative and sometime terrifying sounds. Vocalizing in these tones gives meaning to the term “dangerous voices”, exposing the potential power within the women (or men) releasing them. It is an anarchic, unruly place, and harbors cries, shrieks, whoops, calls and ululations. It also generates energy in the room like no other vocal quality!
The counterpart to the strong feminine is the soft feminine; it encompasses the same placement and same notes as the strong feminine, with less volume, and more free air. By adding cooing, soft sobs (pulses), a wavering pitch, or babble language, the lament takes on a vulnerable quality oppositional to the power displayed above. Adding small, broken sounds to the soft feminine is effective and, for some, easier to sustain. For both men and women, this color is often the denouement of a full-throttle lament, the calm after the storm.
Vibrato is an ornamental aspect of the sung voice, although not considered so in western or bel canto style singing, and therefore, I invite the vocalists to exchange vibrato for straight tones as we explore sung sounds. When the many varieties of vibrato are added as ornamentation, our vocal vocabulary is immediately enlarged. The high-pitched, forced vibrato is one example. Often heard in cries and clamors, it heralds an array of ecstatic noises and can be expanded further by adding vowels and changing registers from chest to head while keeping the strong pulse of the vibrato. (This sound is heard in Native American ceremonies and a range of Asian cultures, among others.) It can be both hauntingly beautiful and deeply disquieting. Combinations of vibratos (also referred to as “pulses”), trills and melismas offer the lamenter colorful choices to express her desired intentions.
Ornamentations common in the ethnic singing and lament traditions of the Balkans, Greece and neighboring countries include variations on the release of the final note in a phrase; they enhance the richness of the melodic line and include:
• releasing the final voiced note in a phrase into a forced pressure of breath;
• releasing the final voiced note in a phrase on sustained, pulsed tone, flicked up in pitch to head resonance, then allowed to fall back to chest range;
• releasing the final sustained note in a phrase into high pitched yips or short screams, quickly cut off at the end.
The Mysterious Break
Metaphorically, the register shifts in the voice are the locus between worlds, a region where imagination, inspiration and memory live. In this place, both the singer and the song are open to new, often unfamiliar vocal possibilities, as she releases familiar controls of vocal placement. The yodel, used for a variety of effects across cultures, occurs by allowing the voice to move rapidly between chest and head registers without attempting to smooth the transition. It can be sounded powerfully or softly utilized for its own effect or as a passageway for exploration of the break. Variations of the yodel, cracks and broken sounds are highly evocative and effective for expressing pain and rage.
I use the term polyphony freely to describe distinctly different parts sung in a small group lament. In modern day mourning practices variations within groups reflect different musical traditions, ranging from highly organized to a seeming cacophony of multiple voices. Some consist of a structured, if uncomplicated, melodic line sung by all the participants. Others display a musical line that serves as the hub from which the lamenters improvise and elaborate. Some incorporate an instrumentalist who provides a melody while the voices add varieties of sung words, cries and clamors. In other traditions, one hears a continuum of sung, declaimed and spoken lines, punctuated by sobs, cries, pulses of breath and audible inhalations. To my ear, however, even the cacophonous sounds of raw, unstructured grief carry a unique melodious quality–however loosely one understands that word.
When organizing small group lamentation inquiries, I suggest that each participant choose one element of our vocal and physical vocabulary. For example:
• lamenter A, sustains a drone while rocking and swaying
• lamenter B, works with a continuum of soft inhalations released in high, light sob-like sounds while gently striking her chest
• lamenter C, is the “soloist” using declaimed babble erupting at irregular intervals into sobs, cries or ululations, combined with hair tearing.
Within this structure, they improvise a 3-part lament song.
With the drone, one voice holds a sustained pitch. At the end of a breath phrase, she may add a subtle ornament, such as a sharp exhalation of dark breath or a high-pitched yip. In a lament, the drone may be used to provide continuous vocal support throughout.
Some Thoughts on E–Motions
Emotions on stage are a tricky business. The pitfalls are well known. Either the actor can’t connect to them or falls in love with his own emotionality and indulges them, making the scene more about his emotional life than about telling the story.
For the actor-lamenter it is critical to trust that, unless he is holding on to them, emotions have a life of their own–they move. The Latin root of the word “emotion” is emovare and means, “to set in motion”. When emotions arise, and they will, given the sounds and images with which we are working, we must remember that the lamenter need neither encourage nor discourage them; emotions are neither good or bad, right nor wrong, they simply exist. If emotion is allowed to “ride” the sound and affect its color and quality, it will move through; it will either intensify or shift to something else, but it will not get stuck.
As an example, this scenario was borrowed from a recent exploration: The actor begins with a specific intention, for example, “to challenge God about the loss of a missed opportunity”. He chooses deep inhalations, breath pulses with high, light sound and babble language as his vocabulary. After a brief time exploring this action, he finds that the inner emotional experience or his intention begins to shift. He follows the shift. The sound begins to reveal outrage; he allows it to grow louder, more guttural, finally building to high pitched shrieking. Again, he follows this path, exploring it freely. Soon another shift begins to move through the actor towards self-comfort (a legitimate action); he explores this action state until it has found fulfillment and suddenly he is, for the first time, weeping freely, grieving the loss while staying on voice. The first part of the journey was necessary for him to contact the sadness under the anger. Regardless of the emotions arising, he kept the “text” moving on the broken sounds and stayed connected to his intention to communicate this sorrow to his partner in the scene, in this case, his God. For some, the lament may cycle back to the start place, led either by the actor’s inner life, or side coached by me as a means of helping the actor close the lamentation. Or the lament may find its own organic end point. Throughout the explorations, I do not hesitate to side coach if it seems appropriate to offer suggestions, affirmations, or to question the lamenter’s comfort or unease at a given moment.
Listening to and following the internal experience of sound helps the actor avoid forced emoting and keeps him actively present to the journey. He is both act-or and act-ed upon, initiator and receiver. He is never a passive recipient of the experience.
For the actor called upon to express heightened emotions on stage, this ability to “follow the voice” by allowing it to shift and change without controlling it, prevents him from one-note acting, a concern expressed frequently by actors working with heightened
text. When using a script, the playwright has verbally organized this forward movement for the actor. In improvised lament, the actor’s ability to balance the both forward movement and emotional expression is enhanced by practice with non-literal, babble explorations.
Across cultures, specific physical manifestation of grief and protest are easily recognizable. Introducing these elements to our vocal and imaginative inquiries offers the third facet of the trinity of elements: voice, imagination and body. It gives the actor-lamenter something to do and connects him bodily to his story.
Beginning an exercise with a physical gesture before releasing sound (e.g., gentle, rhythmic breast-beating, hair tearing, swaying, a gentle rhythmic fist-pounding upon the ground), helps establish the corporeal world, but more importantly, by engaging the actor’s body, it promotes the free flow of energy fundamental to healthy vocal production. Like the voice, movement patterns will change as the lament story develops, but it is important to establish a physical life at the outset. With regard to theatrical productions, we should not underestimate the extent to which the actor’s physical gestures heighten and support the imaginary connection of the audience to the story.
In much the same way that the communal aspects of actual mourning rites draw the grieving one into a supportive and empathetic community where she can find solace, escape isolation, and provide structure for her grief, the same is equally vital in theatrical explorations of this work.
I would like to offer a picture of how this plays out in a theatrical setting. Even working with imaginative circumstances, the lamenting actor may find her emotions swelling to the edge of her capacity to contain them. Through previous instruction, careful side coaching and guided practice, the choral group or witnesses learn to use their voices to draw the lamenter back into the safety of the group by gathering around her physically and over powering her vocally. The lamenter allows others to carry the lament while she regains her balance still remaining inside of and present to the story. Thus words intended to deny or suppress emotions never need be spoken since the lament is constructively shaped by the give and take of the group in their role of supportive witness and guide. Within the workshop setting, it is awe-inspiring to see women and men, relatively new to each other, use this structure to improvise with sensitivity, and to observe the beauty of this age-old tradition alive in the contemporary theatre.
Suggestions for Exploration
Over time, I encourage participants to work freely with imaginary circumstances or bits of their own stories, invested with metaphor. I do caution lamenters to avoid emotionally explosive and unprocessed situations and events. Some possibilities include:
• lament of the throat (what I didn’t say)
• lament of the feet (places I have never traveled)
• lament to raise the dead (a part of your psyche)
• lament of the sirens or lament of the furies (both were marginalized communities of women, feared for the sound of their voices)
• Cassandra’s lament (Electra’s lament, David’s lament (2 Samuel), etc. Use bits of texts and the circumstance of the story.)
Choose an active, intentional reason to explore your lament, for example, to challenge (Self or Other), to chastise (Self or Other), to expose an injustice, to comfort. Even as you set out to pursue an action, your emotions and intentions are likely to shift, evolve and change. Let it be fluid.
Re-centering and warming-down is a crucial element in the process; it encourages the actor to shift out of one state and into another. It is done at frequent intervals during a workshop or rehearsal, when finishing one exploration before beginning another, or at the end of a session. Warm-down techniques include toning of all kinds: yawning, sighing, moaning, purring, small glides and humming. These gentle soundings beckon the vocalist back from the edges, emotionally, physically and vocally. In The Way of Woman: Awaking the Perennial Feminine, Jungian practitioner, Helen M. Luke, reminds us that primitive societies understood the importance of creating rites designed to aid transitions from one life activity to another. To the same end, we use toning and re-centering moments as we shift in and out of strong inquiries.
Tribal Communion and the Land of Memory
As already alluded to, the imperatives within the “tribe” governing rites of lament are varied. Some are bound by a sacred duty to honor the dead in song; others lament to assist the deceased’s journey into the next world, while others must sing over the physical remains until the soul has fully departed from the body. But it is also an acknowledged time of passage for the living who must continue on in this life without the beloved. The physical gathering together of the tribe is an essential aspect of both authentic lamentation practices and theatrical explorations.
Written accounts of mourning rites across the globe stress both the active and communal aspects of it. Photographs of men and women engaged in mourning practices reveal them gathered in groups, connected physically and relationally. Field recordings, interviews I have conducted and both literal and fictional accounts, underscore the significance of multiple voices sounded in a mutually supportive communal gathering. And while I am not suggesting variations do not exist, to a large degree, gender paring are globally represented. Two memorable images are contemporary Greek men singing a two-part, antiphonal lament swaying together with arms around each other’s shoulders, and the “crying clusters” of the Tamil women. In this tradition the women gather together, squatting in a circle with arms embracing each other, weeping together for the deceased. For each newly arriving woman, the circle is opened to literally embrace her into the cluster.
Lamentation invites her followers into a liminal space where time slows, listening deepens and memory opens out. In this slowed down space, the lamenter is able to re-visit and perhaps integrate experiences previously glossed over, rushed past or avoided through the act of acknowledging and voicing them within a welcoming community.
Ecstatic Voice and Actor Training and Beyond
With twenty years devoted to personal study, performances and the teaching of ecstatic voice and ten years devoted to its relationship to ritual lamentation, I am fully persuaded of its value for actor training. If we desire to train actors willing to risk, eager to venture into unfamiliar territories, we must incorporate into their preparation a space to experience the thrills and terrors of this enormous “yes”, a space where they can explore the undiscovered country within their own essential beings and express it creatively.
For all of us, regardless of our reason for study or intended use, the doing and the witnessing aspects of ecstatic voice and lamentation are generous and generative acts. We come along side each other in our search for ways to connect with and make audible our inner experience. I believe that by opening our voices to the outer limits of the human experience, we grow, we heal, we become more empathetic, more available to others, and thus, more essentially human.
I would like to close with a few words from Anna Akhmatova.
…And the power that propels the enchanted
Voice displays such hidden might,
It’s as if the grave were not ahead,
But mysterious stairs beginning their flight.
Alexiou, Margaret. Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974.
Danforth, Loring M. Death Rituals of Rural Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982.
Foley, Helene P. Female Acts In Greek Tragedy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.
Goff, Barbara E. Citizen Bacchae: Women’s Ritual Practice in Ancient Greece. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, 2004.
Holst-Warhaft, Gail. Dangerous Voices: Women’s Laments and Greek Literature. NY: Routledge, 1992.
Loraux, Nicole. Translated from the French by Corinne Pache. Mothers In Mourning. Cornell University Press, 1998.
German composer born January 24, 1961 in Giessen Hessen ( Germany) Annette Mengel joined in 1980 the Musikhochschule Hannover , where she studied piano with Bernhard Ebert and musical analysis with Helmut Lachenmann . She then completed his training in France, especially with Emmanuel Nunes and then follows Toru Takemitsu in 1998 , the curriculum of the Ateliers UPIC computer music . In 2002, she won the Villa Medici Outside the walls of the AFAA program and stay in Istanbul. His works performed in many international festivals, including Musica , The Music , Manca , are written for small instrumental ensembles and / or voice ( Masal for mixed choir , 2007) and sometimes require electroacoustic devices ( Ezan – Ländler for horn and electronics, 2008 Identification IV for mezzo- soprano, flute and electroacoustic device , 2012). Inspired by Turkish culture , Annette Mengel confronts her cultural heritage and contemporary musical universe with the subtlety of Eastern melodic lines ( Toprak , 2004; human Landscapes , 2009), the Instrumentarium Middle East ( Sabâ – ney for Sehnaz Beste , 2009) and set to music texts of the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet (En güzel , 2000). She has been commissioned by various French institutions (Ministry of Culture, SACEM etc . ) And his music is interpreted by specialized units, such as the Route Together Musicatreize Ensemble , Ensemble L’Instant Donné , The young soloists and Neue Vokalsolisten Stuttgart . She is also the author of a Master’s Thesis II in Music and Musicology at the Sorbonne entitled ” Neva Kar ” and ” Neva Beste ” of Buhûri – zade Mustafa Itri Efendi . Alongside his work as a composer , Annette Mengel taught successively at the University of Marne-la -Vallée and the Conservatoire de Montpellier.
The following CD’s and DVD’s can be purchcased online on Paul Silber’s Roy Hart Theatre Archives Website:
– “Dorothy Hart and her fellow women soloists“ (English)
Women members of the theatre performing, includs Jill and Jenni Johnson, Kaya Anderson, Vivienne Young, Clara Harris Marita Gunther and many others
– “The Eight Octave Voice” (English)
Roy Hart and Rossignol, a re-make of the 1973 45rpm disc!
– “Die menschliche Stimme” (German)
Alfred Wolfshon demonstrates his work with his students
– “The Human Voice” (German/English)
an English version of Wolfsohn’s CD above
– “Alfred Wolfsohn – his musical ideas” (German/English)
Another extraordinary find from the past; Includes Marita Günther’s London lecture and Jill Johnson’s remarkable voice
– “Eight Songs for a Mad King” (English)
Roy Hart sings this great soloist work
– “If…..” (English)
Roy Hart: is interviewed with extracts of the theatre’s works of 1974
– “Description of an Inner Experience” sung by Roy Hart (No Language)
Composed by Meinhard Rüdenauer
Contemporary solo opera in three movements. 1. Solitude 2. Contemplation 3. Union. Written for Roy Hart in 1972
– “….and man had a voice” (English)
a demonstration of the voice and work of Roy Hart by Roy Hart
– “Roy Hart en francais” (French)
Roy Hart performing in French in the last year of his life A NEW 9th TRACK HAS BEEN ADDED SINCE JUNE 2010 (Interview avec Serge Béhar et Kaya Anderson)
– “Roy Hart Theatre – preverbal” (No Language)
a live recording of a performance given by the theatre
– “The Albatross” (English)
group vocal work of this great story directed by Paul Silber
– “Roy Hart in deutscher Sprache” (German)
Roy Hart performing in German. Notably the work of Paul Portner
– “Informally yours….” (English)
Paul Silber sings his summer concert with Jomathan Hart at the piano. Also as a DVD
– “The Wild is Rising” (English)
Jonathan Hart sings and plays his own compositions
– “Aethelgar” Roy Hart (English)
multitrack recording. “Mask and portrait”(No Language) RH Theatre
NEW July 2010 The story of the first English Abott in 964 Roy Hart, this is the only multitrack recording ever
Videos VHS Pal and/or DVDs
– “The Rock” (English)
Roy Hart performing TS Eliot’s “The Rock” as a DVD
– “The Theatre of Being” (English)
Roy Hart directing a rehearsal available as a DVD
– “Alfred Wolfsohn, the man and his ideas “ (English)
by his student , Sheila Braggins (36 p)
– “Celebration of Life” (English)
the story of Roy and Dorothy Hart by Paul Silber and Clara Harris (Book 51 pages with audio CD) OUT OF STOCK
– “The Impossible Dream Refound” (English)
a work of fiction by Paul Silber (126p.)
– “Célébration de la vie” (French)
the story of Roy and Dorothy by Paul Silber and Clara Harris Hart (51p + audio CD)
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO ROBERT HARVEY Saule Ryan Robert Mcfarlane Harvey. Born 25/06/1925 Ballarat, Australia. Died 21/10/2009 Ganges, France. Robert was a complex person with sides to him that weren’t always easy to comprehend. In his own words his childhood memories were mostly unhappy and as a boy he would sometimes dream that he was a prince, living in a lovely castle somewhere, with different parents. Instead he lived with an irascible, drunken baker for a father, who slept during the day and yelled at his sons if they made a noise in the house, and who got drunk every weekend. The house was unbearably hot in the summer, heated as it was by the baking ovens. His mother played the organ in the local church and led the local choir and would organize sing songs around the piano, which he enjoyed, but she didn’t have much authority over his father, with whom she was always quarreling. In his lifetime Robert came a long way from this claustrophobic, unhappy childhood. His niece Anita Corbally, in an email she wrote in January of this year asking for news of Robert, said that he was the one who “got away from this place” and that she was very proud of the work that he chose to do. For all his personal foibles, Robert was undoubtedly an artist. His many years of professional dancing, with all the technique and discipline that that entails, his incredible energy, his natural singing voice, his love of all the arts, and his impish sense of humour which tended towards the absurd especially in later years, were all qualities that combined to give him exceptional stage presence. What made Robert such a good performer was his ability to fully embody the roles that he played. From Agave in the “Bacchae” (1967) and Prospero in the Tempest (1977), both dramatic roles, to Le Conducteur in “Prévert et Moi” (1984) or the straight faced interpreter of Kurt Schwitters Dada piece “Ursonate” (1991), both more comic roles, Robert always gave himself 150% to the role. There was a big, naughty child in him that came to life on stage and made his performances so real, so touching. In “Ursonate”, the duo of clown/child and accomplished rhythm master created an amazingly coherent musical and comic piece out of a complex series of meaningless onomatopoeic sounds. Truly, an unforgettable virtuoso performance. The child in Robert was also visible off stage with his love of toys or the latest gadgets. He was the first person to have his own computer at Malérargues. He bought a digital camera when nobody knew what they were! He would read the instruction manuals from cover to cover and by trial and error would figure out how to use all the different programmes. He became an expert in using photoshop and we would all look forward every year to receiving his quirky Christmas card where he would choose a beautiful renaissance painting and replace the face of an angel or a monk or even once a naked young man with his own! Although destined to become a dancer from an early age ( his mother had been advised by the local doctor to send him to dance classes to correct his bandy legs!) he preferred technical studies to academic ones at school. He loved tinkering with home made radios and his beloved motorbikes in the early years or later on, at Malérargues, with his bicycle and his computer, buying the latest accessories and parts as soon as they appeared in his various magazines, or when he went up to Paris to go to the latest Apple fair. His meeting with Roy in London in 1955 changed his life. This is how he describes the immediate impact of Roy’s teaching on him in an essay entitled “Reflections 1965”: “Immediately I began to sing, I touched something in myself, of which I had been unaware. I know now that this tiny spark, touched by the sounds of my own voice, was the real me, buried under a pile of religious dogma, sentimentalism and fake gentility. When touched by a sound, it struggled for its very life, and the dogmas and sentiments struggled against it. This struggle I could not cope with and my early lessons were almost inevitably conducted through a flood of uncontrollable tears. This went on for years with the frequent reoccurrence of the tears whenever an important change was about to take place, and only now, ten years later, am I able to exercise some control over them, or even make use of them. My vocal range at first was limited to a small area at the top half of the piano, and it must have been very reedy. Low sounds were out and it was usually when I touched them that the tears were provoked.” Up until then Robert had been a relatively successful professional dancer, with enormous energy but no means to channel it. He was unsuccessful in maintaining relationships and would swing regularly between bouts of depression and periods of elation. As he grew closer to himself and began to realize his truepotential through the work with Roy, he began to feel the call of teaching. First, teaching movement anddance in schools and in professional dance productions, and then becoming the main movement teacherat the Abraxas Club when Roy moved there with his group in 1965. He was a very good and inspiring movement teacher, using an eclectic mix of classical and pop music in his classes. In the early ‘70’s he started to train some of the RHT members, including myself, in movement teaching with music analysis and simple choreography classes. He was also teaching voice like many of the other members, and in 1976 at the first public workshop in France at Malérargues he met Denise and Daniel Schröpfer, two young actors from Paris. A year later, when Robert decided he needed to take a break from the tough communal life we were living in Malérargues, the Schröpfers invited him to stay with them in Paris, and from that moment Robert’s solo career as a teacher and as a performer took off. Not only did he organize and run a very successful RHT Paris teaching programme, he also immersed himself for four or five years in French life and culture, attending regular classes in French at the Alliance Française, and creating two new performances, one a solo ‘Prévert et Moi’ based on Jacques Prévert’s poems, and the other a twohander ‘Tant que Vivray’ based on Rabelais’ writings, with Michèle Laforest. No surprise that in the mid ‘80’s he decided to become a French citizen. Robert was passionate about his teaching and totally committed to passing on what he had learned from Roy. He was strict but warm with his pupils and they respected his passion and his seriousness. Many like the Schröpfers and the Cailles became friends and remain so to this day. In the mid ‘80’s he moved back to Malérargues and began teaching more in Germany than in France, joining Marita Gunther at Amkanal in Hanover, where they formed their first pedagogic groups with their regular singing pupils. Some of these pupils continued to work regularly with Robert after Marita’s death in 2002 and several of them are now RHT voice teachers. It was in 1990, aged 65, that he created his chef d’oeuvre “Ursonate”. His serious efforts to learn German had been less successful than his learning of French, so it’s not surprising that he chose a non verbal piece to work on in Germany . At least he couldn’t be faulted for his bad accent! Robert was also an excellent director and starting at the end of the ‘80’s he was invited to direct in Germany, Norway and Malérargues where he directed several shows : first “l’A.B.C. de Notre Vie” by Jean Tardieu (1989), then “Le Bon Vingt” (1994 ) and “Fou, Fou, Fou” (1995) – both original collage shows created by Robert which were performed outside using the chateau and the grounds, and which were full of humour and poetry. In 1996, together with Ulrik Barfod, he created “Double Click”, a piece that made fun of computer language with an exuberant mix of slapstick and musical games. His last group creation “Variations”(2003 ) , was another irreverent collage piece, with Hamlet’s soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’ performed in many different ways and in different languages alongside various French absurd texts. As usual the show ended with a song and dance number composed and choreographed by Robert. The man was immensely creative but by then his energy was already depleted, and directing and performing were becoming much harder. Apart from one or two small appearances on stage in the following years, “Variations” was to be his last major performance. As a man he wasn’t always easy on himself or on others and he could be downright rude and mean in certain circumstances. For someone who had always been so independent, so active, and so creative, the crippling effects of arthritis, Parkinson’s and depression must have made the last few years of his life a very painful and humiliating experience. Yes, Robert was indeed a complex personality who could also however be very sweet and touching. So let’s forgive him his crankiness and remember rather his gifts as a performer and a director, and his generosity and humanity as a teacher and friend to so many people over the years. We will miss you Robert.
To Kozana Extract from Homage to Kozana, By Enrique Pardo full text and references on http://www.pantheatre.com/1-kozana.html Susana Lucca † March 30th, 2010 Our lady of colours has departed; she had birds in her many voices and nesting in her hair, and in the flowers of her bearing. Her stride, both light and majestic, knew how to caress the earth, how to lean on it, how to give it her weight, and even how to stomp down on her with abundance and seriousness. Kozana also knew how to stir up and enjoy the thrills and tickles of life, and how to sidestep the ponderous professors: she knew how to laugh. I will truly miss her laughter! She had many voices, many laughs. She left us in her way – with her, everything was: “her way” – leaving in her trail the archaic youth (or youthful archaism?) of her extremely strong personality, sometimes full of fearless courage, sometimes even violent: if necessary she knew when to shake things in life: a critical art I was lucky to benefit from sometimes. Surely now she will be idealized for the tenderness and baroque arabesques of her femininity – she deserves it! – as well as for the eco-artistic utopias of the architect she actually was! – she talked with the ex catedra assurance of a revolutionary pasionaria. Once, she wanted to transform the basement of Malérargues into a cultural centre! Pretty crazy! All this bundled together with the needed dose of pagan disorder which I loved sharing with her. We were both South Americans – I put us both in the imperfect past – I certainly am a very imperfect one, but so was Kozana, in her way, a bouquet of Argentina, Hispano-Italian, without forgetting the forester Alsatian and Amazonian dreams she shared with her partner and beloved friend, Jerome – they must be drinking mate together! If I regret anything it is not having shared more laughs and fights with Kozana. We had made plans to work together this summer in the Singing after Roy Hart Workshop-Symposium. Kozana was a unique teacher – incredibly refreshing and careful. I think she greatly admired Roy Hart and what she had inherited from him – as usual, “her way.” We will miss her very much. We were also in talks for next year’s 2011 Myth and Theatre Festival whose theme will be (if it happens): ECOLOGY. Kozana recently published (November 2009), with her sister Elena, a small book titled: From the magic of uncertainty – Ecology and Art *. It is precisely in these ecomythological territories that lies one of my main current research themes: the pastoral tradition, whose tutelary deity in the Mediterranean is Great Pan – god of Arcadia. It is this link that leads me to the heart of this tribute to Kozana. In the late seventies I began to study and work on the figure and mythology of Pan, which led me to create the solo Calling for Pan and to create Pantheatre. And it was with Kozana with whom I established the richest artistic dialogue. She was very interested in the work I was doing, and we had strong things in common. Kozana always took interest in my work, often collaborated with Pantheatre, and remained open, curious and appreciative, and participating in real critical dialogues. Kozana was the one who totally redesigned the staging for the performance on Pan, setting the show with the audience around it, and with the projectors on the floor, opening presences and imaginary spaces: three old one thousand-watt projectors right in the middle, casting huge shadows on the walls above the spectators, or burning my features as I approached the intense lights. “Poor Theatre”, no doubt, but even more so: theatre of invocation. Today I would say: “spiritist theatre”! – when it works. And this is how our ‘shamans’ came to meet, Kozana’s and mine, emerging especially when we quarrelled, putting on faces of intensity, faces of hatred, grotesque and fanatic faces, possessed art faces. They knew all along, of course, that it was all fiction and that that’s why they played so seriously. Great laughs! What good times! Many thanks to you, Kozana! I will miss you! Enrique Pardo, Paris, 7 April 2010. *Elena Lucca y Kozana Lucca – Published by Árboles Vida Argentina and Elapagon Ediciones. Re. her “unipersonal” (one-person show) directed by Lucho: It was called Pianto based on a tango by Astor Piazzola – Balad for a madman – a display between reality and madness, a path of imagination and expression. She presented it in several provinces in Argentina where it produced a major change in theatre, in theatre research and especially in voice work. Recently I met several persons who commented on this, as well as her regular groups in Cordoba, Tucuman and Misiones, where she worked with a community of some 120 persons. Elena Lucca – April 9, 2010
Richard Armstrong’s work as teacher, director, and performer has taken him to over 30 countries. He has been part of the music theatre faculty at the Banff Centre, Canada since 1985. He is currently Associate Arts Professor for New York University’s Experimental Theatre Wing at the Tisch School of the Arts and teaches for theatre companies, universities and opera schools around the world: www.richardarmstrong.info
LIZA (Elizabeth Mayer – 18/11/1936 – 08/12/2009) was a founding member of the Roy Hart Theatre and president of Pantheatre. A wonderful artist, teacher and a most welcoming figure in Malérargues, as the many tributes describe her in the beautiful Memorial on the website of Pantheatre.
21. –23. November 2014
Your own voice on the threshold to music
Workshop mit Walli Höfinger and Christiane Hommelsheim
24.-28. November 2014
Somatische Woche STIMME
mit Walli Höfinger Rob Liethoff
Info & Anmeldung/info & registration: Somatische Akademie Berlin, Paul-Lincke-Ufer 30, 10999 Berlin
A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO ROSSIGNOL.
Derek Isaac Rossignol ( born Rosenberg) 14/03/1923 Kimberley, South Africa. Died 26/12/2010 Malérargues, France.
This was a man who lived an incredibly full and rich life that began beside the diamond mines of Kimberley , S. Africa, and ended in a château in the beautiful Cevennes, S. of France. In the course of his life he touched many people’s hearts in so many different ways. He was a special man and artist, who, though he took the name of that most poetic of birds, the nightingale, in 1973, was definitely not flighty. He was one of the most constant, dignified, open people you could ever hope to meet. He could be infuriating at times and his peculiar sense of humour with its acid, grating edge that upset more than a few sensitive souls was not always welcome. But teasing aside, he was a man of great integrity with no axes to grind. He was warm , outgoing , and open to everyone and everything. How many times were we greeted by a smiling Rossignol leaning out of his bedroom window to see who had just arrived at the château, or hear him calling out ‘hello’ or ‘who’s that?’ from his open sitting room door as we walked up the main staircase in the château. The students who met him socially over a coffee or at a lunch out the back were always impressed by his theatrical charm and his easy way of connecting. And as a teacher right to the end he gave out an incredible energy and vitality that belied his advancing years. With age he did become less confrontational and more systematic. What student over the past 20 years has not played with Boris, Antonio, Delila and Violetta, his version of violin, viola, cello and double bass? But he still demanded a lot of the pupil with a mixture of warmth, cajoling and technical precision. He was known all over the world, and I love the story told me by a French pupil of his, who whilst travelling in Italy, got talking with a Dutch nun he had met in the gardens of a monastery. When he told her that he was going back to the South of France to continue working on his voice, she replied with a smug look on her face ‘to work with Rossignol, I bet’. He was understandably taken aback by this miraculous intuition!
Rossignol was a man of many parts and many passions. At school he was an excellent athlete who when only 16 set a South African junior record for long jump of over 20 feet ( 6 metres +) and used to ‘soar over the hurdles with astounding grace ‘ according to one of his classmates with whom he used to roller skate to school quite frequently. In his late teens he took up the piano again after a break of many years and taught himself to play the most complicated of piano pieces by Lizt, Schumann , Beethoven and co. His younger cousin Lin Freeman remembers many happy hours spent with Rossi when she was a teenager, with him playing the piano and she dancing. By then Rossi himself had discovered dancing and would secretly climb out of his bedroom window every evening, whilst supposedly revising for his engineering exams at university, to go and rehearse with the ballet company he had joined. He rapidly became one of the company’s leading male dancers with the stage name of Serge Dimitrov and a fantastic leap. Only after he had passed his exams at the third or fourth attempt was his cousin allowed to take one of the uncles, who had been paying for his education following the early death of both his parents, to see a dance performance. When the uncle proclaimed early on in the evening ‘ but that dancer looks extraordinarily like Derek !’ his cousin replied ’ It is Derek!’ You can imagine the shock!
Thus dancing became his passion and brought him to London where he dreamed of becoming a top Ballet dancer. However the competition was much tougher than he had expected and he never made it to the top but he did dance with many different companies, notably the Ballet Rambert, run by a tyrannical Mme. Rambert who often used to exclaim disparagingly ‘ look at those kipper feet’ ( a reference to his very flat feet, which in later years became so sensitive he could only wear a certain type of sandal. In that respect he was a true Pisces.) He also danced with the Sadlers Wells company and eventually went into musicals where he met Barry Irwin and Robert Harvey. It was because he was required to sing (he himself later said he had no voice at all) that he and Robert decided to take lessons with a certain Roy Hart. They both had their first lesson on the same day in 1955, one after the other. And for both of them it was an encounter that was to change the direction and the meaning of their lives.
Rossignol was a ‘bon vivant’ who loved good food and good wine, which he ordered directly by the case from his favourite wine dealers. He was an excellent cook and generous host. Right up until the last months when he could no longer get around his kitchen he would make delicious soups from vegetables bought in the Lasalle Monday market. Garlic, ginger and cardamom were the staple spices with nutmeg the extra ingredient for his pumpkin soup.
He loved living at Malérargues with its trees, its flowers, its hills, and for many years he was a keen gardener planting irises, daffodils, forsythia, lilacs and many other bushes and trees. This autumn for the first time the persimmons tree that he had planted on the front terrace some years ago bore many golden fruit much to his immense satisfaction. His favourite tree was of course the purple flowering jacaranda and the last time he went back to South Africa to visit his brother in Johannesburg he burst into tears when he saw whole avenues of them in bloom. His big regret was that it is almost impossible to get them to grow here.
Another enormous passion of Rossignol’s in the second half of his life were stones and sculptures. Many years ago in London he had had a dream in which he had found some magic stones that if spoken to could turn into human beings. Then one day in the ‘80’s the dream became reality. And from then on when he wasn’t teaching, performing or just socializing, he would be busy putting bodies and faces onto stones, shells and sometimes pieces of wood. Hours would be spent on visits to beaches around Montpellier collecting stones that spoke to him with faces already apparent or waiting to be revealed. He would then carry them back to the car in several very full and heavy plastic bags , usually with help from friends. Once home they would be added to the pile of stones on his bedroom floor and at the earliest possible opportunity he would start working on his next creation, filing , scraping, drilling, plastering and painting. Gradually his apartment became filled with a rich world of characters, both human and animal ( and also a lot of dust!) and every birthday that came up was an occasion for him to choose one to give as a present. I think we must have all received at least one sculpture over the years!
But most of all Rossi was a wonderful performer with a very expressive vocabulary of dance and mime movements and gestures, allied to a beautiful deep, soulful bass baritone voice. Who amongst us can forget his last public performance at Malérargues in June 2007 when he sang “Old Man River” with such feeling and depth. The words ‘tired of living and scared of dying’ struck home in such a poignant and palpable way . Here was this 84 year old man , already suffering unbeknownst to him self from fibrositis of the lungs, singing his heart out in a very generous and dignified way about the approaching end to his life. Totally giving, totally unsentimental. A huge lesson in life. Rossignol probably performed in more RHT performances than any other RHT member to date. He was good to work with. But with all his talents and gifts he always remained utterly humble. There was never a sense of arrogance or ego about him. If anything rather the opposite. He tended to downplay himself and his gifts both as a teacher and as a performer. Without doubt his favourite role as a performer was the role of the hunchback in “Pagliacci”, where he was able to fully use his gifts for mime and comedy and where his voice could be heard in all its richness and its rawness. Whenever we showed our 5 week students extracts of the “Pagliacci” video he would always become tearful watching himself and the others perform.
Rossignol was a dear friend to me for over thirty years and I miss him a lot. When I think of him now I see the easy smile, and the sparkle in his eyes that so many others mentioned in their letters of condolence. I see his elegant and expressive arm and hand gestures and above all I hear his lovely deep bass voice and his laugh. Right up to the end his voice stayed clear and resonant ,both on the phone and when ever you knocked on his door. The ‘come in’ would sound firm and even angry sometimes, especially if you happened to be the fourth person in a row to knock on the door that morning. Yes, he was a tough old bird, ‘un rossignol solide’ who fought to the bitter end to maintain his dignity in the face of overwhelming odds. Only once did he say to me that he felt like giving up.
He has left us quite a legacy for which I for one am grateful. Today we moved the piano he was given by the RHT for his 60th birthday out of his apartment and into Studio 3. May his commitment and his humanity live on in our work.
I wandered the streets of Paris this cold, clear winter day remembering and remembering those wonderful bright eyes of Rossignol – and how often he would call down to me from his window when I walked past the front of the château. That same window that he threw open before singing:
“Si puo, si puo signore et signori…….” some thirty years ago. I once asked him which was his favourite performance and unequivocally he answered:
“Pagliacci”. I would agree with him because undoubtedly in this performance he found all the complexity, humanity, humour and tragedy of a dark soul. One of Sweden’s most famous actors once told me that he had never encountered such humility in an actor as with Rossignol, in this performance. A deep respectful complement from one artist to another. There was a humility in Rossignol sometimes almost a diffidence, a touching, vulnerable nervousness that constantly seemed to question his abilities, but, he was never diffident in his teaching and never sentimental. I can remember one lesson when I was thinking: “If he asks me to give any more I think I am going to die!”
It is hard now to re-imagine the limit of exhaustion he asked for – and yet, now I understand that he would never ask you for more than he would demand of himself. This was my teacher – a man who had climbed out of the window in secret in order that he could follow his passion – “to dance”!
We toured together with “Pagliacci” for five years – years of joyful artistic pleasure.
His next role – Queequeg in “Moby Dick” – was for me one of his most poignant. The dignified humanity with which he gathered the fragile Pip into his arms was a moment pure love – a moment that only an actor with a great soul could understand.
Both Rossignol and I were born white Africans and though he came from South Africa and I came from Kenya we had a lot in common – not the least the same extraordinary teacher, Cecil Williams, a white South African who was forced into exile for his engagement with the Anti-Apartheid movement and a collaborator of Nelson Mandela. I never spoke about my engagement in the anti-apartheid movement with Rossignol but I would often think of it in relation to Queequeg, who in a quiet way is a militant of human rights….. it is one of those questions that I wish that I had asked him.
In the last years, the last days what strikes me most is the quality and presence of Rossignol’s voice. I will sadly miss hearing him say, in his slightly ironical, old fashioned way:
“Well, my dear…….”
My heart is heavy dear Rossignol but your voice will always fly to me from those windows – and I pray too your soul flies joyfully…….
Elena Lucca is a Biodance System teacher and supervisor at both participants and professors level. Her activities are developed in Argentina and several European countries such as Italy, Spain, France and Switzerland.
Elena has a PhD in Environment Management and Ecology gained at Avignon University, France, with studies in Peace and Development Gained in Spain. She is teaching this subject in Master’s module in several universities en Argentine and European countries.
She also is in charge of the Local Agenda 21 actions in Argentine.
In Art she proposes environmental poetic perception through audiovisual media work.
Since 1990, she taught with Kozana Lucca the annual stage of Voice, Colour and Environment, at Malérargues for the CAIRH.
Jesús Muñoz Saiz studied at The Drama School of Valencia (Spain) and worked with teachers from different companies as Odin Teatret and European schools as Decroux or Lecoq.
In 2000 he funds a group of physical and vocal training for performers, which becomes a theatre company after two years, named El pont Flotant, where he works as an actor, writer and coodirector. Since then, he combines the creation and the touring of their pieces with the work in other companies as an actor. He also teaches physical and vocal work for actors on a regular basis in different drama schools. In 2005 he has his first contact with Roy Hart work and in 2008, he starts a Pedagogic Voice Training Program, directed by Carol Mendelsohn and Saule Ryan.
‘My voice work is a mixture of what I discovered in these years of research with my partners in theatre and what I found at Malérargues: the place where I learned to express myself through my voice – as human being and as an actor’.
LA VOIX ENRACINÉE
avec Saule RYAN et Laurent STÉPHAN
Samedi 29 novembre 2014 : de 09h30 à 16h30
Accueil dès 09h00 pour le règlement
Dimanche 30 novembre 2014 : de 09h30 à 13h30
CONSERVATOIRE DE MUSIQUE
Allée Corbineau – 27 rue de Bretagne
14 participants maximum
NB : Pensez à amener votre tapis
Évènement organisé par :
VINIYOGA GRAND OUEST
Association déclarée Loi 1901 – N° W532002218
20 rue Alain Gerbault – 53000 LAVAL
Tel: 06 71 83 32 80
Saule RYAN est membre du Centre Artistique International Roy Hart et il enseigne la voix depuis plus de trente ans en France, en Europe et aux USA. Pendant ce stage, il sera accompagné de Laurent STÉPHAN, également membre et enseignant du Roy Hart. Au piano, avec beaucoup de délicatesse et un grand savoir-faire, ils savent faire émerger la partie la plus profonde et mystérieuse de votre voix et vous conduisent sur votre « chemin vocal ».
Sans jugement ni compétition, chacun avance à son rythme, soutenu par le groupe. Ce nouveau week-end sera l’occasion pour certains d’approfondir des exercices déjà abordés et pour d’autres, l’occasion d’une rencontre, d’une découverte. Envisagé sur le long terme, ce travail concerne les chanteurs, les comédiens, les enseignants, ceux qui désirent sortir des sentiers battus et découvrir de nouvelles techniques vocales et tous ceux qui veulent découvrir leur voix, jouer avec elle ou développer confiance et estime de soi. Aucune pratique préalable n’est nécessaire pour participer à ce week-end.
Consultez le site : www.roy-hart-theatre.com
Veronique is musical pedagogue and a singer. She works in a music school since 18 years, where she teaches musical awareness and music to classes of schoolchildren. She is she involved with very varied musical projects in the school context. She is a singer and plays guitar and she recorded her own compositions and arrangements of children’s songs in a CD called “les jeunes pousses ” (“the young seedlings”).
She also participated as an actress and singer in two shows. The one for toddlers and young children « Douce écaille, poisson bleu » (“Sweet tortoiseshell, blue fish”) and the other “La Bonne Odile” (“Good Odile”) where she performed songs, surrealistically staged in a vocal trio with piano accompaniment.
Since September 2008, she sang in a vocal trio “Izvan” polyphonic songs of the world with a predilection for singing songs of the Balkans and the Caucasus: Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Armenia, Albania, Hungary, Russia …
Since 2006, she teaches voice to adults drawing on the work of Roy Hart Theatre in workshops and since 2010 she is also teaching individual lessons.
Contact Veronique Caudal: e-mail
French singer, actress, performer and voice teacher living in Paris.
Born in 1973, she teaches voice in professional drama schools (Atelier Blanche Salant, Point Fixe) and gives private lessons in Paris. She is a voice coach for dance and theatre shows. In june 2013, she released a 2 tracks single with her french song project “Chrysopée”. She performs as an actress for physical theatre contemporary creations and as a performer with VJs, musicians… She is part of “Sororité”, music and performance based trio. She trained with the CAIRH and Pantheatre, and in some other vocal techniques: bel canto, jazz, musicals, slam… She trained physically with yoga, tango, corporal mime and is currently interested in sensorial mouvement.
Teaching blog (in french): http://marylineguitton.typepad.fr
Sororité trio: www.sororite.net
Extracts of her solo piece « Une Étrange Demoiselle », directed by Enrique Pardo.
Born in México City his professional activity range from acting, producing, directing, coordinating cultural events and teaching.
He started his career as an actor, focusing primarily on the work of masks with Canadian director Glennys McQueen and subsequently with French director Jean Marie Binoche. In Body Awareness Center, he teaches a degree in movement Analysis with Rudolf Laban´s technique. As stage director and producer he has performed multiple projects for theater, opera, music and television. He teaches the voice class of the theater degree at Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa (Autonomous University of Sinaloa) and directs the deaf theater company in Culiacan Entre Manos.
Founding member of the 1st deaf theater company in Latin America Seña y verbo, founded in 1993. Founding member of Grupo Piensa, dedicated to the implementation of creative processes for institutions, and universities .
Experience With Roy Hart Theatre
In 1982 I met the Roy Hart Group in a theatre festival organized by UNESCO in the city of Zacatecas, México. I had the great opportunity to attend a workshop with Kozana Lucca. In 1986 Richard Amstrong came to México City and I took a course with him and also had my first individual lessons.
Two years later, Richard came back to México City, and once again I attended his workshop. Those first experiences allowed me to continue exploring the Voice with profound meaning, as learned from Kozana and Richard.
In 1995, as a stage director of opera I start to work in a different way with singers, trying to help them find a communion of voice, body and emotion. In 1999, in the II Encuentro Internacional de Teatro del Cuerpo, I came in contact once again with Kozana. It was during this workshop that I and several other persons decided to create a group following the philosophy of Roy Hart and asked Kozana to be our Mentor. In that process, our group “Son Voces” presented a performance called “Voces Secretas y Profanas”. In 2000 I became the Voice teacher in a special training course for actors. I began to give voice lessons in different universities, schools and institutions, teaching according to the principles of the Roy Hart Company.
As a consequence of our experience with Kozana the group “Son Voces” organized encounters with many people interested in exploring the Voice.
During those years Kozana was very closely in touch with us and several times came to México City in order to follow up on our process as a voice teachers. In 2001 Kozana came to Mexico and worked with the group for one full month. We also assisted her in several workshops in Mexico City and Oaxaca.
• In 2002 “Son Voces” created a new show called “Suseso Creativo.”
• In 2003 Enrique Pardo and Linda Wise travelled with “Pantheatre” to Mexico. With them I discovered new ways to work the Voice.
• In 2004 the experience with “Pantheatre” motivated me to start teaching Voice to dancers, as well as continuing to work very hard with my group, performing as well as giving conferences.
• In 2006 Kozana was invited by the University of Hermosillo to come to México and the group Son Voces Shared the process with Kozana.
• In 2007 I travelled to France to attend a workshop with Jonathan Hart and obtained the RHT voice teacher certification.
• In the summer of 2008 I shared a workshop with Kozana in Malerargues about voice and sign languages
Anne Heeg is an actress, singer and voice teacher.
She is has both trained as an architect and actress and played in the ´90s in different theatre companies in Germany.
She started at the Roy Hart Theatre in 1988 and worked with Marita Günther, Robert Harvey, Rossignol, Kaya Anderson, Jonathan Hart-Makwaia and Rosemary Quinn. Later she received her formation as a Roy Hart teacher from Marita Günther and Robert Harvey. She teaches voice and movement herself since 1994.
Foto: Alex Lipp
In 2002 she opened a studio at the Kampnagel Theatre in Hamburg, Germany, where she teaches voice and movement for individuals and groups. She gives regularly workshops all over Germany.
The main objective of her work is to explore and develop the individual potential and expression of the human voice. Her teaching aims at the awareness and interplay of the voice, breathing and the body, in search for an individual expression of life, to make the inner voice sing.
Foto: Alex Lipp
Mechthild Hettich is living and teaching in Bremen, Germany. In 1989 she started to explore her voice with teachers of the Roy Hart Theatre. Her main teachers have been: Marita Günther, Robert Harvey, Jonathan Hart-Makwaia and Rosemary Quinn.
Since 1996 she gives lessons on voice at several levels: a) Absolute beginners (also people who think they cannot sing) are welcome, b) people who want to explore their voices in all colours and c) musicians, who are interested in the connection of voice and instrument.
Mechthild Hettich’s deep correlation to nature roots in her first profession as a gardener and garden-architect. Nature and voice is another focus in her teaching and performing: She created several “gardensongs“ and accompanied herself with the accordion.
singer, dancer, voice coach:
At the tender age of five, I began singing in my mothers choirs. But after school I trained as a professional dancer in Berlin and Cannes. For several years I danced in Ballet Companies and independent dance and theatre productions.
Many years later I took on the challenge of singing again. After nearly two years in classical singing, I discovered in 1994 the voice work ot the Roy Hart Theatre, which has inspired and influenced me ever since:
Now I dance with the voice.
My training was enriched by workshops like “voice and movement” by Monika Pagneux (Ecole Lecoq, Paris) and Yoshi Oida (Ensemble of Peter Brook) and many others. With Esther Schwab, Besides other artistic activities, I created the Duo “Esther”Esther”, and the two Esthers sang together for a couple of years.
In 2006 I became member of the CAIRH, and gently began to integrate this rich work in my classes of dance and movement before starting as a voice coach. Now I regularly give workshops and individual lessons in Switzerland and Germany, especially in Hamburg, Zürich, Lausanne and Geneva. I am on my way to become a Roy Hart voice teacher.
As a former dancer, I propose to find the roots of the voice in the body, trying to create a playful and confident atmosphere so that everyone feels at ease to go further, towards the beauty of the natural voice, clarity in expression and the joy of being creative.
I’ve sung since I was a little girl. London 1964: I hear the
extraordinary voice of Manny Klien in a concert, and meet his teacher
Roy Hart. 1970: Roy asks me to open the Abraxas Workshop, with the help
of Dorothy and Rossignol, to give voice classes to the public. Ivan
reminded me recently that this was his introduction to the RHT. I am
proud of that.
Our performances took us into Europe and finally to Malérargues, where
I arrived as cook for the first pioneers in 1974. On the musical side
there were concerts in the Gard and the founding of the Music School of
St. Hilaire de Brethmas, by Stephen, and Jeremy and Jonathan and myself.
In 1979 I played Madame Noé in “Noe”, directed byJoseph.
I was caught up by the teaching in Lyon from 1980 onwards. Gabriel and
Nadine and Vicente and I opened a Centre of Roy Hart classes and other
theatrical activities, called ESPACE VOIX.
In 1902 the THEATRE DU LAC asked me to act and sing in “LES VIEUX” by
Raphaël Simonet, and in 2004 in “LE JOUR DES CORNEILLES” by J.-F.
Beauchemin / R. Simonet. In 2009 I was invited to give a RHT voice-body
workshop for graduate and professional classes, at the Ecole de théâtre
ATRE, where I now teach regularly.
I continue investigating the intimate links of body and voice.
18 rue Flachet, 69100 Villeurbanne
Téléphone: 04 78 03 80 64 + 06 32 01 44 72
Phil is a Chicago-based actor, voice trainer, and vocal coach. He has been working with Roy Hart Theatre teachers since he encountered Carol Mendelsohn, Saule Ryan, and David Goldsworthy in 1992. In 1996-1997, Phil was an Annette Kade Fulbright Fellow to France, living and working at the CAIRH in Malérargues. He received his Roy Hart Theatre Voice Teacher Diploma in 2013.
His acting and coaching projects range from the traditional (Shakespeare, Shaw, new works) to literary adaptations (Edgar Allan Poe, Neil Gaiman, JRR Tolkien) and experimental projects (Frederico Garcia Lorca’s poetry with Blair Thomas puppetry, a TS Eliot re-mix – Four Quartets:Variations with Ariel Artists).
He is an Associate Professor of Voice and Speech at DePaul University’s Theatre School in Chicago. He is also an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework. Much of Phil’s research and teaching involves the synthesis of Roy Hart Theatre Voice work and Fitzmaurice Voicework.
Phil is an ensemble member of Lifeline Theatre in Chicago where he has received three Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Pride & Prejudice, Busman’s Honeymoon, and Queen Lucia).
Contact Phil: e-mail
Zwaantje de Vries lives in Nijmegen, Netherlands, as a voice teacher, performer, actress. She has been connected with the Roy Hart Theatre since 1981. In January 2014 she was officially certified as a RHT Teacher.
She is the first RHT Teacher, with a certification in the Netherlands at the moment. She lived for more then 20 years near Hannover in Germany and had her own Art Institute ‘Am Kanal’. There she initiated a 4-year teacher training for Dansexpressie, a Dutch method for creative dance, including the voice, in cooperation with the ‘Hoge School voor de Kunsten’ in Amsterdam.
Meeting with the Roy Hart Theatre she found the missing link, she was looking for. Close friendships developed, especially with late Marita Günther and Robert Harvey, including exchanges on RHT teaching and RHT performing work.
Enrique Pardo and Jonathan Hart-Makwaia were a great influence on her as well.
“I’m very grateful to have had lessons over many years from most of the founding members of the RHT. Malérargues feels like THE inspiring friend, I would never want to miss.”, is what she says.
“Ones identity is ones biography and the voice expresses that. Coming from a multi-cultural and multi-ethnical family ( Indonesian-Dutch ) I was forced to discover my own identity. The RHT work showed me the most powerful tool to do so .”
And about her teaching she says;
“ I’m deeply touched, each and every time a person discovers the beauty of their own unique voice,. After which the process of integration starts. To be companion on that road is a great gift and the passion of my teaching.”
She studied Visual Arts, Drama and Dansexpressie, and had her own Avant-Garde dance company ‘Zwaantje & Jaap Kleyn’. She performed and exhibited in the Netherlands, Germany and France. She has been guest teacher for drama and dansexpressie at several Universities and numerous other Institutes in the Netherlands and Germany.
She performs with other artists in acoustic ‘Soundscapes’ ( free improvisations with voice and musical instruments ) and develops Theatrical-Compositions in cooperation with artists from different back-grounds and disciplines.
She teaches private groups and individuals and is guest teacher for voice at the Artez, Institute of Arts and in Arnhem, at De Lindenberg, Art Institute in Nijmegen and at a Rhetoric Training in Arnhem.
She speaks Dutch, German, English and a bit of French.
Contact and information: e-mail