The Cevennes mountain region of southern France is renowned for its independence as evidenced by its resistance to the genocide of Louis XIV and the occupation of 3rd Reich. The Château de Malérargues has an exotic history bound up in these struggles and we like to think that in moving there in 1974 that the Roy Hart Theatre continued the tradition.
Le Château de Malérargues We have turned a ruin into a beautiful place for learning, teaching and creation that welcomes students, educators, and the curious from all over the world, who come to find unique approaches to the voice, body, movement and psychology, which can be used not only in the field of performing arts but also in everyday life. The teaching is diverse, but always in the tradition of Roy Hart Theatre, based on the idea – first developed by the modernist visionary, Alfred Wolfsohn and taken up by the actor Roy Hart in London that there is a profound connection between a person’s voice and their psyche.
Malérargues and the Cevennes were home to the Huguenot rebellion and to the protestant Camisards’ last stand against Louis XIV in the early 18th century. 2004 marked the 300th anniversary of the “Camisards War” and also the 30th anniversary of the buying and settling into Malérargues of the Roy Hart Theatre (1974.) This is not the only uncanny coincidence. Many Camisards fled to London where they created a sensation with their “Sacred Theatre” cults, especially with their inspired voices. They were dubbed “The French Prophets”. When the Roy Hart Theatre first performed in the Cevennes it was in local protestant temples with full-out “extended voices” gospel singing and a rumbustious rendering of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. There was talk of “the return of the voice to the Cevennes” and even rumours of “The English Prophets”…
During the Second World War Malérargues became a training school for the Resistance movement. Robert Francisque served under Henri Meyrueis, the owner of Malérargues, in a campaign in Indo-China. Robert left the army to enter into the service of Meyrueis at the Château. Given his military background, Robert “le Noir”, as he was known, was able to train the young cadets. He became one of the leaders of the Maquis of Lasalle and took part in many sabotage activities. He also played a dangerous double game of joining the Milice. In 1944, he was betrayed and paid with his life: he was shot in front of the Château.
Malérargues 1974 During a period from July to March the following year 47 members of Roy Hart Theatre moved from London to Malérargues – in that same period 5 roofs collapsed there. With little money and sleeping 6 to a room, with 2 baths a week (in 2nd or 3rd-hand water) and chemical toilets, we worked on the buildings and created “L’Economiste”. In May, on its first tour, Roy and Dorothy and Vivienne, the three most important persons in our Theatre were killed in a car accident. As well as the huge personal, artistic and inspirational loss, their deaths had merciless financial implications. We wondered if we should not give up and return to London.
We decided to resist.