CAIRH - Roy Hart International Arts Center
Chateau de Malérargues
F-30140 Thoiras +33 466 85 45 98

The Roy Hart Theatre


Roy Hart was an actor, so it was natural that he began to use theatre texts with the group that formed around him after Wolfsohn’s death – eventually working with the whole text of Euripides’ “The Bacchae“. He insisted that everyone learn the complete text before rehearsals could begin. As well as rehearsals there were hours and hours of dream analysis and research into the universal and individual unconscious. “Don’t pretend to be a crazed, blood-thirsty woman, find her in yourself and be her”. Two years later the result was three hours of psychic improvisation that could be played forwards, backwards, jumbled-up or in gibberish, and never the same twice. This production influenced Peter Brook to create his “Marat/Sade”. Jack Lang took it to the Nancy Festival in 1969. The first performance there only had a small audience and half of them left before the end. The second was half full and again half of them left. The third was full, the fourth and fifth were packed-out to the rafters – still half of them left. It was “The event of the festival” and a legend was born. The name came after. At the Round House in London The Bacchae, largely improvised and renamed ” The Front Eye” caused a sensation. Subtly directed by Roy from behind a mobile grand piano on cartwheels, it was a gigantic ‘singing lesson’, but after Roy declared that from then on the work would no-longer be ‘51% therapy, 49% art’ but the inverse, and the theatre was born. A series of experimental performances were developed which crystalized into “and“, between therapy and art. ‘and’ was an investigation into ‘pre-verbal’ theatre, it was organised improvisation – physical, musical, wordless, and… successful. It ended with “The Magic Chord”, a gradual crescendo by the whole cast from a harmonic chord to screaming – screaming until they collapsed in a heap from exhaustion eight minutes later. But Roy wanted words, even if they were incomprehensible. His last performance with the theatre, “L’Économiste” was in French – too obscure for London. Interest in the work was much greater in Europe, so the company moved themselves and the production to Malérargues. During its first tour (to Austria and Spain) Roy was killed in a car crash along with his wife, Dorothy and Vivienne. In great pain and economic distress, the company recreated L’Economiste in requiem. “La Tempête“, the first creation without Roy continued the tradition of big touring productions. Meanwhile smaller creations emerged from the personal inspiration of individuals: L’Enthousiasme, Enchanté, Dites-moi, Te Pardi!, Le Roi se Meurt, Pan, Pagliacci, Musiques pour Marsyas, Moby Dick and many more. Great performances and no two alike. At this apogee of Roy Hart Theatre the company decided to no longer use the name and the Centre Artistique International Roy Hart came into being in 1991 as an umbrella for the whole family of individuals and tendencies. If you are interested in researching the legacy of the Roy Hart Theatre more in depth, please have a look at the Roy Hart Theatre Archives Website, hosted and maintained by Paul Silber. There you can also purchase books, CDs and DVDs.

Photo © Richard Bruston

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