Roy Hart

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Roy Hart
Born 30 October 1926
South Africa Johannesburg, South Africa
Died 18 May 1975 (age 49)
France Nice, France
Occupation Actor and singer

Roy Hart (born Rubin Hartstein; 30 October 1926 – 18 May 1975) was an actor from South Africa at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. He was a pupil of Alfred Wolfsohn's for many years and then furthered the work on voice after Wolfsohn's death. Hart's vocal range and virtuosity led composers such as (Hans Werner Henze and Peter Maxwell Davies to write musical works specifically for his voice. Hart founded the Roy Hart Theatre in 1968 and developed the Roy Hart Theatre approach, which is still taught and practised in the south of France at Malérargues and around the world today.

Early life[edit]

Hart was born as Reuben Hartstein on 31 October 1926 to Polish-Lithuanian parents in Johannesburg, South Africa. He had an Orthodox Jewish education, but felt that he never made friends easily. He studied English, the history of music, philosophy and psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. In 1946, he performed Peer Gynt in a University production to much acclaim. Due to the conflict between his innate desire to go on stage and his families’ Rabbinical origin, he decided to leave South Africa.

Move to London and meeting with Alfred Wolfsohn[edit]

In May 1947, Hart Joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, as a scholarship student, using the name Royden Hart. At RADA. he was a successful student, yet felt "that the characters I performed so convincingly were merely figments of my imagination . . . something was lacking". On 5 June 1947, he met Alfred Wolfsohn, and wrote of him in his diary that he was "a man who I feel has the ability to bring out the very best in me. … He is indubitably the finest thing that has happened in my life". His work with Wolfsohn created problems at RADA. In 1949, he graduated from RADA and the director wrote of him: "A good voice but is inclined to over-voice… He deserved his free fee place."[this quote needs a citation]

In the 1950s, As Wolfsohn became ill, Hart took on some of the teaching of other students. Hart gave vocal demonstrations to experts in music or theatre, such as Yehudi Menuhin, Laurence Olivier, and Peter Ustinov, and was in contact with the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. These initial contacts generated interest in his work, but not much came of them.[citation needed]

In 1960 he began to work at Shenley Psychiatric Hospital, and maintained contacts with the psychotherapuetic world for the rest of his career. In 1962, Wolfsohn died, and Hart created a group of students to continue Wolfsohn's legacy.

In 1964, a Documentary film was made of the group (available on DVD Theatre of Being) .

Roy Hart Theatre[edit]

Hart found the Roy Hart Theatre in 1967. In 1969 he began a period of intense international artistic and psycho-therapeutic activity, including solo performances in Henze's Versuch über Schweine, Peter Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King, Stockhausen's Spiral, and Euripides's The Bacchae performed with his own company. He was a guest speaker at psycho-therapeutic and theatre congresses throughout the world; Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook held discussions with him in his studio in London. In 1972, he began to perform as an actor with his own company which at that time had grown to more than forty members. The Theatre company took up residence in the south of France in 1974. Roy Hart died in a car accident while on tour in May 1975.

Hart made a number of recordings during his lifetime, demonstrating the range of his voice, amongst them "...if", "Eight octave voice" and "and man had a voice"



This page was created from material taken from the Roy Hart Theatre archives, with authorization.