Paul Silber, 13 May 1938 – 28 June 2022
CLARA SILBER’S EULOGY FOR THE CREMATION CEREMONY, CANET-EN ROUSSILLON, 5 JULY 2022
Paul was a lover of life with an inexhaustible source of energy. One close friend recently called him, a visionary and a pioneer.
Born just before the 2nd World War, as a child he showed talent in drawing and woodwork. His mother, a woman of great insights, encouraged him into theatre. He played some juvenile acting roles and after obligatory military service in Germany, he joined provincial repertory theatre. He moved on to London’s West End, appearing in the chorus of musical shows. But this was not his dream of creation, it was too much of a factory.
When he heard about a man called Roy Hart, who resuscitated lost dreams of art, Paul instantly wanted to meet him. He joined the group, which ultimately became the Roy Hart Theatre, and played a central role in its development taking part in every performance.
Paul was a miracle guy. He survived the car accident that killed three people, including Roy Hart, without even breaking a bone himself.
He became a respected and much loved teacher of the voice work. As one of his students said “Paul could tell me things I needed to know in such a way that I could hear and understand them.” Together we guided hundreds, if not thousands of students, towards a greater understanding of themselves and an appreciation of their artistic abilities, through an exploration of their voices.
In our relationship, our marriage, we were never apart : teaching, performing, travelling, entertaining. With our own hands and brawn, we built a splendid house at Malérargues. Out of abandoned terraces, we created a magical garden adorned with Paul’s sculptures. Paul wrote short stories and a delightful book based on the Narnia theme. We created films, DVDs, set up the archives for the theatre. We led a full and varied life together, a constant adventure.
Paul always thought of himself as an actor but with my persuasion, he made his first solo singing concert at the remarkable age of 65. From then on there was no stopping him. As a great friend wrote recently “I do not speak only in metaphor : Paul was a true singer. His voice like liquid honey could flow straight from his heart to yours.”
Even three days before his death, he created a beautiful improvised version of Summertime, which I even videoed. What a gift.
Paul had an enormous capacity for feeling, which is why I’ve brought one of his sculptures here today called not “the thinker” but “the feeler.”
In 2018, we moved from Malérargues to Port Vendres where we have delighted in the beauty of this rugged coastline, participated in various cultural presentations and enjoyed the company of warm supportive friends.
Paul’s big generous heart gave out last Tuesday, Ste Irenée’s day, his mother’s name. She was no doubt there to guide her dear Pauli to fly like a bird and be free of all physical impediments.
I feel privileged to have spent 47 years in a loving relationship with such a wise, gifted person.
LETTER FROM JONATHAN HART MAKWAIA, 29 June 2022
My dear friend Paul continues to live with me and will for the rest of my life. I feel so much love for him, so much admiration.
Paul’s love for Clara, and their love for each other, is an extra-ordinary love story for the ages, and as real and earthy as can be. If you want to learn about love, look to them.
Paul’s love was at the core of his every action, and of his whole outlook on life. That was clear, also, in his devotion to my mother, Dorothy. The enduring love that Paul and Clara each had for Dorothy accompanied the beginnings of their relationship and was a nourishing spring for them throughout their marriage and ever-evolving journey together.
Paul’s other great love was Roy, to whom he was eternally loyal. In his quest to stay true to Roy’s philosophy of life, I believe Paul actually forged his own life path. And Paul was a path-forger. He was a visionary and a pioneer, fundamental aspects of who he was, often under-appreciated. His love was also a passion for life, expressed by a hunger for invention: as a writer, painter, sculptor, land-shaper, architect, and overall problem solving designer. He was a modern Leonardo Da Vinci, a true genius.
His unique inventiveness was also apparent in the way he expressed himself verbally. Paul’s unusual choices of vocabulary captured essential nuances and were actually very precise. I found his feedback on my music to be more practically useful than most musicians’ comments.
It’s hard to believe that he never gave a full concert before he was 65. For me, it was a gift to work with Paul on his early concerts; to share the discovery and the vulnerability, to experience refreshing perspective on music, and to feel our spirits dancing together on the most intimate level. Thank you, Paul, for that gift. And thank you, Clara, ever-present and the loving force that inspired Paul to keep exploring.
When I remember Paul I will always think of Clara. I will also remember Dorothy, and think of Roy. I will remember Paul’s wild spirit that he was not afraid to express, a spirit that included the purest tenderness. I’ll remember the coloured glass bottles of Paul and Clara’s first tiny house, Versailles. I will remember Paul carrying a tele- graph pole while walking backwards along the top of the wall during the house’s construction. And I will remember his mischief. At 84, Paul was somehow still a child, and yet a man of the utmost integrity.
Paul, I’ll miss being with you in person again, but you are forever present with me. In whatever form your spirit moves from here, I know you are surrounded by love. Fare thee well.
MEETING AND LIVING ON STAGE WITH PAUL SILBER, BY SAŠO VOLLMAIER
I came to live in France in 2013 for personal and professional development. I entered this path through Pantheatre (Linda Wise, Lisa Mayer and Enrique Pardo), and it is then that I started to collaborate with more and more actors and singers.
A very important and crucial meeting happened on this path, I met a man called Paul Silber. Through our collaboration, I started to understand the part, which as a musician, I had never understood so clearly before – that of storytelling in its fullest sense.
I remember our first rehearsals in the studio with our musical director, Clara Silber, when Paul said to me: “Sašo, just follow me and the musical phrase”. At the time, I questioned myself “Yes, but is there a space for me as well?”. There was a space, a lot of space that Paul offered, sometimes simply while sitting on the tall stool and listening. It was more about creating the map of a story line, than a musical question. Paul could listen to my interventions with open ears, sometimes he laughed, sometimes he looked at me seriously and I understood that he sees what I am saying through the piano.
I began to play differently. Playing with Paul opened a new direction, which I am following now without him. It was about the invitation to a special space where I could hear the words, the phrases, the story, the breathe and of course the presence of a man who could make sense of all the mistakes and the moments of insecurity. I am/was one of those musicians who doesn’t always hear the lyrics but with Paul, it was different. Paul surprised me constantly, right up to our last concert together, reminding me that with his interpretations of the songs, we would never repeat the same thing. Sometimes he took more, sometimes less time within and before each phrase he sang. I loved the moments of entering on stage with him, long inhale… go.
We became friends. It feels to me that we met there as two men with the same longing and the same perception of life. Our story on and off the stage created a strong bond where we could play with each moment, stretching and playing with time. I could see Paul move through all the periods of his life through his singing. He invited me to see him, to understand him and, most importantly, I believed in each word and voice line he created. We were as two children, trying to understand the growth and all the challenges that life brings to us. Sometimes looking at life with children’s ears, another moment looking backwards. We could feel very old too. What a journey!
I remember Paul’s voice, it is very close to me. I can hear it now while writing this letter, he is singing close to my ear: “You make me feel so young…”
TEXT FROM NADINE GEORGE, PAUL’S FIRST WIFE
Paul was a wonderful person, a creative artist and singer. I will always be deeply grateful to him for introducing me to Roy and to Roy’s and Alfred Wolfsohn’s work.
Paul and I were two of Roy’s first pupils. I was privileged to be taught by Roy himself for five years. Paul and I were also privileged to travel with Roy, Dorothy and others to stay in Louis’ chalet “Awe” in the mountains. This is where I got to know Roy as a remarkable human being and a great creative artist, a gift I will never forget.
Paul and I continued exploring with the group of students working with Roy. Following the creation of Euripedes’ “the Bacchae”, the group took on the name Roy Hart Theatre.
Some years later, Paul, myself, Roy, Dorothy, Davide, Vivienne and Lucienne went to France to find a place where the theatre could live and work. Château de Malérargues in Les Cevennes was found. We all knew this was the place for the Roy Hart Theatre. The rest is history.
I wish Paul deep and lasting peace with his ashes dispersed in the sea, setting his soul free.
“I count myself one of the most fortunate men on this planet. By good fortune, the tides have been with me during the course of my life. Somehow I have always managed to take the tide at the full and sail on and have not been left to wallow in the shallows.” – Paul Silber
This citation is from A Celebration of Life the booklet written by Paul and Clara in 2000 to mark 25 years since the tragic car accident. Paul’s text was written in relation to this quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, lead on to fortune ; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries.”
THANK YOU DOROTHY FOR YOUR DREAMS
– a poem written by Paul on 3 July 2019 –
Memories drift by like forgotten dreams
some are not forgotten,
some are not dreams.
All of them are real
one way or another,
they line up like good soldiers,
some at ease,
some at attention.
All are still standing
waiting for the command –
“By the left” …
and off we go, impatient children
stamping on the ground .
“Right Wheel” …
at last a gentle curve,
smiling all around.
“And … halt”
Left and stop,
right and stamp.
The feet stop …
inside the movement continues.
Forever move on and on and on …
through the dark tunnel we go.
Eternity is a long time,
but it does come to its end,
as all good things must do.
Life continues even so,
maybe not as you know it
in one form or another, it does, it does …
so do I,
so do you.