NEWSLETTER WINTER 2022
News of the CAIRH
What are we working on?
A word from Mariane Siem, newly elected Member of the Board of Directors of the CAIRH
Since childhood I’ve experienced much pleasure from singing and expressing myself through theatre and music. As I’ve grown older this has continued and for almost 35 years it has been the core of my working life.
When I first encountered the Roy Hart work in 1989 during my theatre training I loved that this work combined elements from both theatre and music and so I continued to do the Roy Hart work, primarily with Carol Mendelsohn and Saule Ryan. They have been coming to Aarhus, Denmark, where I live, for 25 years now and for this reason there are many people in Aarhus who are interested in this approach to the voice.
The Roy Hart voice work began for me as personal work and now it is also my profession. I have been a Roy Hart teacher since 2014 and I teach in Denmark and also in Malérargues. Teaching in Malérargues is very special and I love to share this voice work with people from all over the world. I enjoy seeing colleagues and friends here and to be in the beautiful surroundings of the centre.
There is still a lot of pleasure for me in the voice work. When I do improvised theatre and storytelling for children I love to use my voice to create atmospheres and characters, which is quite important for the children in their engagement in the story. When I sing at concerts I enjoy being able to interpret the lyrics with all the different colours of my voice.
But it is not just voice work. It is also about the human soul, it is about being seen and witnessed in both the fragility and the strength, and in the honesty when you let the voice express with authenticity. I am so happy when I succeed in letting go of the presumption about what I want to say because then the body and subconscious can take more space. The body and the emotions are always far ahead of the will and the mind. Through the voice work there is sometimes a short cut into something so new and so unknown that I cannot even conceptualize it with words. That is for me quite important.
I know the work on the board of the CAIRH calls for other ways of working and expressing. I am very happy to be part of the more organizational side of the work of the CAIRH with people who know and love the spirit of the Roy Hart voice work. I am hoping to be able to contribute to the work in a way that will nourish it the best.
ArcheCom, the committee responsible for the preservation, digitisation and dissemination of the material archives present at the Association’s headquarters.
On December 2nd last, Paula Molinari and David Goldsworthy, representing ArcheCom were welcomed by the Archives Departementales du Gard for a first conversation aiming to establish possible relations between the two institutions. The director, Madame Pascale BUGAT, and Mr. Vincent MOLLET explained to us how the preservation process works for the documents donated to them for safeguarding and for consultation by the general public.
On December 5th, we invited Mr. Vincent MOLLET to Malerargues so that he could get to know our facilities and advise us regarding possible future steps. Ivan Midderigh set up a computer in the chateau library to present his photographic book in progress along with the printed photographs of the various artistic performances at the Roy Hart Theatre.
The temperature and humidity index of the rooms were measured in both the archives room (“La Mémoire“) and the chateau library. It would appear that the conditions in both places are favourable, at least in winter, for preservation.
This is a brief account of a small but important step taken by our committee towards the great work that we still have ahead of us and which was only possible thanks to Paul and Clara’s work over the years.
To what are we listening?
Roy Hart Centre YouTube Channel: Sheila Braggins sings
To launch the official Roy Hart Centre YouTube channel we present Sheila Braggins singing with Saule Ryan and filmed by Carol Mendelsohn in London in September 2013. Sheila was a student of Alfred Wolfsohn in the 1950s and early 1960s and remained a close friend of several Roy Hart Theatre and Roy Hart Centre members up until her death in 2014. The YouTube channel was originally created by Arno Peck and Saule Ryan and is now being managed with João Charepe’s support. – video editing by João Charepe
TSHAIKHA TRIO EP
A new international collaboration, released on several digital platforms by three Roy Hart Centre teachers: João Charepe (Portugal), Mariane Siem (Denmark), and Zwaantje de Vries (The Netherlands).
The album includes 6 tracks and is available for your listening pleasure on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.
What are we reading?
Alfred Wolfsohn: Banishing the Stench of the World
par Ralf Peters, Stimmfeld, 2022.
CAIRH association member and teacher Ralf Peters has edited and published a first book drawing from the writings of Alfred Wolfsohn. Based on Ralf’s readings over the last couple of years Banishing the Stench of the World is a bilingual (German/English) collection of notes from German singing teacher’s collected manuscripts. In these he formulates his memories of Germany and his experiences as a German Jew during the Holocaust and as a soldier in the first world war.
“Already at that time I saw with my own eyes the concentration camp spirit executed by representatives of Prussian noble men in prisoner-of-war camps. However hardly anyone understood that this could make a man sick. But I knew very well that I was not the sick one, I was the healthy one who did not comply with what most people did, who could forget, who went along with the demands of the day under the naïve assumption that there was peace and everything was fine and as it should be. “
The book is available worldwide and can be purchased here.
It will also be available for purchase at the CAIRH office in Malérargues soon.
Proceeds from sales will go to the Cologne based association stimmfeld that financed the publication. A portion of proceeds from the sale of the book in Malérargues will be donated to the CAIRH archive La Mémoire.
We welcome the exciting news of Richard Armstrong’s publication project, Mangkhut: Stories in the Air
by Richard Armstrong
A five-week writing journey in early 2019, took Richard Armstrong to the island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong, to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and to Southwest England. Mangkhut, the title of his recently completed manuscript, arose on that journey. It is the name given to a deadly, category 10 typhoon that hit the Philippines and Cheung Chau in September 2018, and also the name of a delicious Thai fruit.
The book takes the reader on a journey – through reflections gathered from Richard’s work with the human voice over five decades, interspersed with notes from the 2019 trip. These narratives have an underlying theme which will be familiar to all those connected to the legacy of Roy Hart: that the voice and the psyche are interlinked, and therefore reveal each other. The book also contains stories from Richard’s early life, fictional events – anything from the extra-terrestrial to the mundane, from pop culture to dream analysis – and reflections on mortality, gender, mythology and biology, repression and liberation, birth and death, interspersed with over 40 illustrations, including photographs and original artwork.
The intention is to prompt the reader to ask fundamental questions about self and identity.
Richard is currently exploring publication opportunities and welcomes any suggestions.
World-renowned singer, director, and beloved voice teacher Richard Armstrong uses his intuitive genius to gently guide each student over the threshold from expectation to the vast, divine unknown by honoring the human being in front of him with love and care. He has written a memoir as unique, engaging and altogether brilliant as the man himself. This is a singular take on life, art, voice, and pedagogy — as well as a playful reinvention of the memoir form. With exquisite storytelling, Richard weaves an intimate and personal artistic journey into an inspiring tapestry that celebrates a life well lived and a man deeply loved by all lucky enough to work with him. – Grace Zandarski, Associate Professor, Head of Voice and Text, Yale School of Drama.
To contact Richard please click here
Article: postcard from Egypt
Egyptian Mysteries, by Ian Magilton
As I sat down on the balcony to begin this letter, I saw the boy next door pushing, almost riding the biggest of the family goats across the yard. Now I can’t see them behind the trees, but I hear a knife being sharpened.
You see we are in the Bedouin village hidden behind the Red Sea resort of Dahab, with its restaurants, diving schools, therapists, souvenir shops and surprisingly many Russian tourists, whilst in the dusty streets of the village behind sit elderly army guys with equally ancient Kalashnikovs on their lap guarding the post office van. Our street has a desiccated dead cat flattened into its sand. Just another of the stark contrasts of Egypt that I can’t equate, but I feel certain that I know which one is closer to real life.
But then yesterday while snorkelling the coral reef I saw such beauty that made me question everything…
“Madness working”, Anita called the streets of Cairo. It is amazing how the traffic avoids crashing – by millimetres, or not killing the pedestrians, or the cyclists coming in the wrong direction, especially those with enormous trays of fresh bread balanced on their heads – no hands! Crossing the street is like bullfighting; laying down your imaginary cape in front of the onrushing cars with horns blazing, giving them the eye and daring them to crush you down. The wrapped-up old ladies are best at it, so it’s best follow behind them. In those canyons of elegant colonial-period ruins the noise is deafening and it always feels cloudy, although the sun shines every day. I am not sure that I could survive more than two weeks in Cairo.
The Nile is huge, the pyramids at Giza are enormous, Tut Ankh Amun is beautiful in his hundred and ten kilos of solid gold sarcophagus, but somehow uninteresting. The camels were sweet.
We are in Egypt thanks to the efforts of Ben Rivers, founder and ex-director of the DAWAR arts centre, he took his first singing lesson with David twenty years ago and is currently in the Advanced Pedagogical Group. The workshops coincided with COP27 and the anniversary of the ‘Arab Spring’ rebellion of 2011. The writer/democracy activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah was in prison and in the last dramatic stage of his hunger strike. Egypt was tense, with the army everywhere. DAWAR was forced to close for three of our twelve days, so we worked in another studio and had to keep the windows closed!
We met with Hassan al-Geretly, director of the El Warsha Theatre, who thinks that maybe he saw ‘And’ at the Théâtre des nations in 1972 ! He asked if he could send two of his actors to the workshop and spoke warmly of Orlanda Cook and the work she did with his company in the eighties, in a period shortly after her cancer diagnosis. He was aware of its development. He invited us to a rehearsal of the company. Well, Anita’s GPS knew exactly where it was, but we didn’t and it was getting darker as we searched. Finally a man at a café explained where El Warsha was and even came and helped us when we hesitated before a grandiose, decrepit and frankly scary entrance, “Third floor” he said. We dared the dilapitated palatial staircase.
Their rehearsal in their broken-down space was a very touching, another ’madness working’, especially when Hassan announced with feeling that, “Orlanda Cook worked with us in this space”. It is not a 110 kilo solid gold sarcophagus, but it is a kind of immortality.
Though they are no longer immortal and in the face of all obstacles, the coral reefs of the Red Sea still brim with intensely crowded life. I studied fine arts, but never have I seen such convinced imagination of forms, or intensity of colour, Life! Madness working.
P.S. The goat is fine.
With great sadness…
In July 2022, we learned with great sadness of the death of Paul Silber at the age of 84, of complications from COVID 19.
We will never forget the moments spent in his company.
As the sole survivor of the accident that took the lives of Roy, Dorothy, and Vivienne in 1975, the natural grace that Paul embodied and cultivated throughout his life, despite the trauma, is an example to us all of resilience and courage.
Those who came from London will doubtless remember him as one of the leading actors in the troupe at the time, and those of us who met him later will remember the many concerts he gave in Malérargues over the last few decades, accompanied on the piano by Jonathan Hart Makwaia or Sašo Vollmaier. It was truly remarkable to hear him perform a repertoire that, whilst complicated to sing, he knew by heart and interpreted with an unalterable passion and zest for life.
His energetic building skills saw him undertake the construction from scratch or the restoration of many of the crumbling buildings in Malérargues, with the support and unconditional help of Clara. So our thoughts now turn to the one who was Paul’s companion and partner for so many years. They shared the same passions, the same enthusiasms, and the same frustrations. Together they achieved great things, not least of which include their teaching and films. Above all, they accomplished the enormous task of compiling an archive of material covering the early era, from the pioneering work of Alfred Wolfsohn to the death of Roy Hart, which includes CDs, videos, a website, and lectures. Paul and Clara have devoted tremendous energy and tens of thousands of hours to preserving the traces of this artistic and human adventure that spanned the twentieth century and continues to evolve.
Words are inadequate to express our gratitude to Paul and Clara for what they have bequeathed to us: La Mémoire – the room in Malérargues housing the archives – abides as their place, so strong is their imprint there.
Paul Silber (1938-2022)
Paul, recollections by Clara Silber-Harris
Already it’s five months since Paul died. Sometimes it seems like it was only yesterday that he was here, looking well and full of life. At other moments, it feels like an age that I’ve been on my own.
He has left me with so many good memories. In our last weeks together, we had begun what I called a “Book of (H)ours”. I had dreamt this title and following the mediaeval books, it seemed a good way to collect together writings, memories and drawings. We’d made a beginning and I will follow up on this project next year.
I am very touched that so many people here remember Paul’s singing voice. He had broken with his normal habit of only singing in studios and in his last couple of years, he would sing whenever the moment seemed right – in a restaurant or cafe or at a dinner party. His doctor encouraged him to sing for him in his surgery! He admired his voice. On the morning that Paul began Covid, he had visited a chiropodist. On his prescription, the doctor had mentioned “good singer”! So, at the chiropodist’s request, Paul sang her a song from the patient’s high chair and she was thrilled! For his regular studio, he used a wine cellar with a great acoustic. The wine growers encouraged him to sing whenever he wanted to. A great favourite for unaccompanied singing was If I had wings like Noah’s Dove, a song which subtly showed his wide range and expressive voice.
But Paul so missed not singing with his dear friends, Jonathan and Sašo. For a happy memory, here from his 2017 concert in Malérargues, is exuberant Paul, enjoying his last song, while Sašo accompanies him. A great example of the complicity between the two of them.
(Thanks to Carole Paulin for filming this on her phone!
A few weeks ago, I was invited to read two of Paul’s short stories, written in 1982, for a mini-festival here. I read The Last Stand based on the true story of Robert Francisque, leader of the Maquis, at the Château de Malérargues. This story was reworked by Paul to create the scenario for a film, which we later made: Robert Le Noir. The second story The Devil’s Bridge, tells of a gifted young school boy, who enjoys wood carving (as did Paul himself). This story was read on the BBC World Service in 1982 as part of their short story series. I was glad to offer a creative activity of Paul’s that few of his friends here were aware of. And for me, it was a delightful experience to refind, through his writing, a young Paul. The only downside was that I couldn’t tell him how enthusiastically the audience had received his stories!
Thanks for this opportunity to evoke Paul, especially for those who just know his name and no more.
What are we celebrating?
Decades of viva voce aliveness!
In September our beloved teacher, colleague, and friend and resident of Malérargues Ivan Midderigh celebrated 80 years of aliveness over the course of a week-long extravaganza.
Sharing meals, soirées, and evenings of story and song with his nearest and dearest who gathered in Malérargues from all corners of the world, Ivan took us on a musical and photographic journey of his life and times, including a sneak preview of his upcoming photographic books to be published in the Summer of 2024, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his arrival in Malérargues.
The week of celebration culminated with a concert, a show presented by Ivan and Orly Asody (voice and piano) with accompaniment by Clément Caudal and Doug McArthur on guitar, Olivier Philippson on accordian, and Juliette Flipo on the harp, following which moving performance there was much dancing and merrymaking into the wee hours!
Our doyenne Kaya Anderson celebrated her 90th birthday at the Château de Malérargues on November 25th.
It was a beautiful evening where friends, neighbours, colleagues and students had the chance to have their voices heard and to gather in a joyful, relaxed atmosphere, conducive to listening. Kaya herself sang a Schubert lied (“An die Musik”) accompanied on the piano by Davide Maffeo.
Kaya was showered with messages and gifts, including a collective gift from 35 people to spend some time by the sea when the warm weather returns.
Please click on this link to view a minute of Kaya’s speech at the opening of the evening and see for yourself just how lively she still is!
Should you wish to make a monetary donation to the Roy Hart Centre, you can do so via PayPal or “HelloAsso”, a French payment site which guarantees that your data will not be commercialized. Click on this link. Many thanks in advance for your support!