Latest update : 05 August 2018 Performances & Singing FORUM
Exchanges and reflections on the choices of themes and performances in the 2010 “Singing after Roy Hart” Workshop Symposium at Malérargues, Roy Hart Centre.
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Bad & Courtney Love / Pomposity / The Myth of Consciousness / Pan
Fairytales and Fair Ladies (fairy-fair-feral?)
“A voice is also an intelligent agenda”
Kurt Schwitter’s Ursonate
How to perform singing after Roy Hart
Contemporary hell canto
Overtones & singing on the in-breath
More on Inbreath Sounds : Death Rattle
Naples / Tibet / Jerusalem
Tran Quang Hai / Singing in the Throat
Unusual Singers and Extreme Vocalists (Vancouver)
The Embodied Voice / Head vs. Body / Derrida
Nick Hobbs lectures : Roy Hart / Roy Hart Theatre
Shadow / Liza’s Voice
Roy Hart’s genius
Lucie Bailly / The Protestant Voice
The Piano : master and monument
Provocative or Prophetic ?
Singing and Performing
An Introduction April 12, 2010
Let me open this forum with reflections on the difference between “singing” and “performing”, as it applies to this project, titled: “Singing after Roy Hart”. First, two extracts from the project presentation (see brochure for full statements: http://www.pantheatre.com/pdf/2-TT10-gb.pdf ) :
Singing was Roy Hart’s root metaphore, something that is crucial to an understanding of his and his time’s pedagogical philosophy. Singing applied to any act in life: its effect was one of qualitative transformation, even revolution, in human behaviour. Roy Hart’s highest values linked expression with consciousness – another way of defining “singing”. It included awareness and expression of ‘shadow’, that is, the darker, uglier and violent aspects of humanity.”
Performance was crucial and critical to Roy Hart’s weltanschauung, his vision of the world – to the point where he implied that “you are what you can sing” – with singing, again, understood as both an ethical and an esthetical performative metaphore.
My original offer to organize this event was made early in 2009 as a response to a call for “Teachers Training Workshops” made by my collegue Carol Mendelsohn on behalf of the “Roy Hart Voice Teachers Training Comitee.” The core of my offer was to address what I would call meta-pedagogy, that is, the principles on which one’s teaching is based. I want to say here that I am a ‘fan’ of Roy Hart’s meta-principles on voice pedagogy – what he called “singing”.
I also assume that each teacher develops her or his own praxis by assemblying and researching both ideas and models with which to construct their own pedagogical alchemy. Here is my position on this point :
I consider myself first and foremost an artist. My means of expression today include physical performing (theatre, dance, singing) as well as painting and writing (and, for sure, I wish I had five lives!) I teach mainly “performance” within what I call “choreographic theatre” (http://www.pantheatre.com/gb/2-program-choreographic-theatre-gb.html), and cultural studies. That is, I teach my approach to how to perform and what to perform – and the links between how and what. The voice is part of this enterprise – especially in “voice performance” – where I owe a lot to Roy Hart. But my emphasis (like his, in my view) is on the artistic voice – i.e.: “what is it that you want to voice?” I have moved very far from Roy Hart’s ideologies and esthetics, but I fully endorse his artistic ambitions.
So we get the following conundrum : how to you “perform” singing – especially after Roy Hart ? A practical example: singers, particularly in the operatic model, hardly move (an opera singer just told us she must not bend her knees when singing!) For me what you “look like” is crucial - in French: de quoi on a l’air, and, les airs qu’on se donne – the ‘airs’ the arias you are caught in – the ideas “in the air”, what I have described as the “esthetical performative metaphores”.
These are backdrop reflections to my choices and to the dialogues with the artists who answered very generousely the Call for Performances. I reply in this forum to their proposals, for which I am very gratefull: what pleasure to receive and ‘audition’ commited performance proposals !
NOTA the original plan for a choice of performances (5 performances) and has been changed and we are likely to see more like twelve 20 minutes performances. See http://www.pantheatre.com/pdf/2-TT10-performances-call.pdf
Charles Dickens / Traditional Theatre / Story
Phil Timberlake - March 5, 2010
Hello Enrique Pardo-
I've enclosed a DVD of a performance that I am submitting for consideration for the workshop/symposium, "Singing After Roy Hart." The DVD is a performance of a solo show entitled Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol.
Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol is a play written by Tom Mula. Mula played the leading role of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Goodman Theatre’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for many years. A Christmas Carol, as you may know, is an iconic story in the English language, written in 1843. It details one Christmas Eve in the life of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly money-lender, as 4 ghosts visit him and he is transformed into a giving, generous human being. In the Dickens story, Jacob Marley is Scrooge's deceased business partner, who comes back from purgatory(? Hell?) to warn Scrooge that he must change his ways or suffer the eternal consequences.
The genesis of Mula's play was a remark from a child who had seen the Dickens’ play: “Jacob Marley got a raw deal!” The child has a point. Jacob Marley helps save Scrooge’s soul, but then what happens to Marley? Dickens does not tell us. Mula answered the question by writing a novella that tells the story from Marley’s point of view. Mula later adapted it as a one-man show. I have performed this play twice.
So – how does this represent "singing after Roy Hart?" One answer to that question is that I could not have created my performance without my experience with Roy Hart Theatre Voice work. As you will see from the performance, I use no costumes, no props – just my body, my voice … my Self. The vocal work I experienced, explored, and embraced with the Roy Hart voice work enabled me to rehearse and perform this piece.
In addition the lack of sets, lights, etc., strips this theatrical experience to its bones. An actor (his body, his voice, his imagination, his inner life) engages directly with an audience (their bodies, their imagination). The audience must engage their imaginations to experience the storytelling. This is an aesthetic that I recognize from the Roy Hart Theatre work I have seen at Malérargues and elsewhere.
An anecdote … when I first performed the piece, it was in the lobby of a theatre on an improvised stage. There was an open bar before the show and during intermission, so the bartender watched all the shows. After the second show he told me:
"During the scene in the graveyard, I actually SAW two characters on stage. Like there were actually two actors in this play. And I'm not saying this to flatter you, because I realized that the two characters were alive in my mind … I had created them."
This theatre piece allows/invites/demands that the audience engage fully in the work. That experience (to me) is "singing after Roy Hart" – no passive observers, only engaged participants.
I still have questions as to whether it is "singing after Roy Hart." Does narrative count? This is, after all, a full-length play where the driving force is the "telling of the story." It is not primarily about an exploration through the voice. Can something this mainstream be "singing after Roy Hart?" What happens when the experimental exploration of the "personality through the voice" is channeled to traditional theatrical purposes? Can it look like this? Is this acceptable? Would Roy Hart recognize it as belonging to his theatrical landscape?
I watched video extracts of your performing Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol.
First of all, many thanks for sending it to me; it is an impeccable performance in its style - quite an achievement ! I was very impressed.
My answer regarding the "Singing after Roy Hart" workshop symposium is the following:
I cannot include it in the five 20 minutes performances concert. Briefly, I would say that I am seeking out "experimental" work, and, in terms of performance, I feel like saying: "beyond Roy Hart". Professionally though, within what you call "mainstream theatre", your work is exemplary, and has my total respect.
What is more, the questions you bring up in your accompanying letter are very valuable and I would like to engage with them further in the coming days, and present them in the symposium - although maybe more in terms of "performingafter Roy Hart" than "singing after Roy Hart" - especially in a voice pedagogy context.
I would like to respond in depth to your questions and arguments in the coming days - clarifying also my position as "artistic director" - which has to be partial and which I take with, lets call it: "humble lucidity".
I think your performance would be very appreciated at the Roy Hart Centre, especially by the English-speaking persons there, if you would consider presenting it. I am not sure this can be done within the planning of the workshop-symposium. I always sin of enthusiasm and overload the planning of events I organize. But let me know if you would like me to bring this up with my colleagues there.
As mentioned in the Call for Performances, I would like to include these exchanges in the "Performances Forum". … It really is essential homework for all participants. Have you put up an extract on internet so that a link can be included?
Phil Timberlake - Monday 12/April /2010
Thanks for considering the project --- and for taking the time to watch the video!
I totally understand your reasoning for not including it ... in fact, for those exact reasons I hesitated about sending it! But, knowing you, I believed that this could be a great conversation about what "Singing After Roy Hart" means, even if you did not wish to include it as a performance. So I look forward to continuing that conversation.
I guess I am really interested in the idea of " singing/performing/teaching/listening/fill-in-the-blank After Roy Hart." Because for me, "after Roy Hart" first means something very personal --- my work/singing/performing/teaching after engaging with Roy Hart Theatre Voice work... which is quite different than the historical question "after Roy Hart...." But that means that my personal experience/work is a part of the whole idea of "after Roy Hart." It's a part of a generation further from Roy Hart, but hopefully still engaged in the heart of the work --- the Personality Through the Voice ... the Voice as the Muscle of the Soul.... So I look forward to continuing the conversation at the symposium!
I'd be thrilled to present the performance (or a selection of it) at the symposium. But I'm guessing that you are right --- that time may not allow it. If time permits, I'd be glad to do that, but I understand if there is not any time.
To Marya Lowry 14 April 2010
I've just visioned your video tape - great idea (fundamental subject) and great performance ! Many thanks. I look forwards to confronting it live this summer !
… Now that I have seen the proposals, my pre-concieved plans have to change. I am also waiting for confirmation on places and dates for performances.
What I am leaning towards has now three levels :
experimental proposals (the original 20 minutes pieces) - mainly by 'young' performers (not necessarily in age but in their approach to voice performance) - to be presented in Malérargues with some form of critical discussion that links them to "voice teachers training". Including : how do trainees respond and how would they work with such voices (in the full philosophical sense of "voice".)
a concert by established professionals which I hope we can present in Lasalle (the town-village nearby.) Mainly of songs or pieces that can be taken by a French audience. At present the main performer would be Amy Rome, hopefully also Audrey Pernell.
two or three special presentations in Malérargues of 'exemplary' work that do not fit either but should be seen and heard. Phil Timberlake's for instance.
I think your piece would fit the first two. I lean towards the concert: it could be presented also in Lasalle with the audience having the French text (or we could try some form of video projection of a translation given the text is fairly short.)
Let me know if you have any thoughts on this - and on the material in the Performances Forum in which I include this exchange: http://www.pantheatre.com/pdf/2-TT10-performances-forum.pdf
I will also be sending updates to all the potential performers and including you.
Thank you again.
FERAL & BAD
Bel Canto and Hell Canto
Nick Hobbs is an artist, performer, writer, empresario and a popular and contemporary music specialist. He has collaborated with PANTHEATRE for many years, delivering over the last ten years an outstanding series of lectures titled “Bel Canto and Hell Canto”. He will present some of this material in his lectures during the “Singing after Roy Hart” Workshop-Symposium, and is also proposing a performance piece. The exchanges below address both undertakings. His first email is in reply to my question: “Why Colline?”. Colline is a young dancer and performer who attended Pantheatre’s 2009 Myth and Theatre Festival and is part of Nick Hobb’s experimental cast for his current performing projects.
Since Nick’s statements and reflections can be quite provocative, I asked again for his permission to quote him in this forum. I am very glad and thankfull he agreed. Discussions will be all the richer for it.
From: Nick Hobbs [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2010 3:30 PM
To: Enrique Pardo
Subject: Re: TT10 performances / Re Colinne
why Colinne? the easy answer is I dont know why, I just know that that's who I wish to work with right now; but delving into myself a bit then 'feral' comes to mind; Colinne is a feral performer - untrained (or rather she appears to be untrained), spontaneous, iconoclastic (sans ideological agenda), emotional, passionate, animaline, earthy, gutsy, unpredictable, uncontainable etc.
she has 2 connections to the RHT, she's worked with Anne Serot and she's worked with you (and me for that matter) but obviously her connection is light, nor is she a singer - though she certainly has a voice, a voice which seems to be part of her body, which is affected by every emotion which passes through her
one of the less attractive sides of Roy Hart which I hear when I listen to the archive recordings is something which I would call pomposity - he seemed to be self-important, as well as rather actively encouraging his own guru status
and ferality seems opposite to pomposity - just as the buffoon is opposite to the bourgeois one could say (of course the relations of these archetypes are more complex than that)
however I have no political axe to grind, and am happy to celebrate Hart's achievements and have no wish to denigrate the man in any way (that's for biographers)
but there is something in Colinne's ferality which is exciting to work with (perhaps not a million miles from Sean's untamability) and which perhaps points from the Roy Hart tradition in another direction from the reverential, gently forward-stepping one
one, again, which I perceive in Calling For Pan (you don't have to agree of course)
and so by a process of rather lateral logic, I feel I want to put myself (hardly feral I'd say, though hopefully with dashes and slashes of something psychologically primal) in the laboratory of this performance with the feral performer which is Colinne
it's an experiment, I don't know the answer, perhaps I'll know it at the end of the work on this piece, perhaps not, but I do know that these seem to me to be interesting - and sufficient - ingredients (the voice work of Roy Hart, my much-mediated memory of Calling For Pan, Colinne and I)
the other things on my mind at the moment are 'improvisation' and 'artistic risk and daring'; I don't want to play safe and do something nice and polished, and of course, inevitably, I'm being inspired by Jacques Brel, and how to connect that to the work of the Roy Hart Theatre? how? it seems that there must be a connection, maybe a strong one, but it's very indirect, it needs mining (warning - there will be some - probably mangled - Brel in this performance)
anyway these are all artistic questions, best answered artistically before getting to any intellectual explication
- 20 mins
- maybe use live electronically treated voice (I bought a nice box for this), in which case will need Izzi's sound system
- addressing singing after Roy Hart
BTW i am thinking of not including any of the high tech aspects of Brain but instead working with quite a lot of logs and branches if there happen to be any around at malerargues
why? not sure but something to do with calling for pan, and a desire to push towards primality - even into bad art... probably there will be a brel song (or part thereof) but sung in a post hartian way - brel will roll in his grave a bit
Bad & Courtney Love / Pomposity / The Myth of Consciousness / Pan
Thanks again for your reply – incredibly valuable in this enterprise.
You also asked me for guidelines for your lectures and what focus I would recommend in relation to “Singing after Roy Hart” – which now includes your pun : “Sinningafter Roy Hart”. I comment on all these questions together.
Roy Hart was an amazingly intelligent and charismatic man, no question; and he was no saint. “Guru”? Maybe – he certainly took on the mores and (ir)responsabilities. But the aspect of his teaching that attracted me the most was his shadow vision. I use shadow here in vernacular Jungian: the hidden, darker, usually unseen and unaware double of a person or move – very often couched in denial or projected onto an enemy. Hence his own performing violence – his attacks on “the unconscious”. He had incredible ‘vicious’ potential in his psychological insights – something akin to Hillman’s “seeing through”. I think one can hear this battle with aggression in his voice performances. I did. For me these ideals were articulated (and performed) in the poem written by Serge Béhar, Biodrame , which I consider to be Roy Hart’s manifesto. It containts crucial “myths of the voice” and I will certainly refer to it again. This “aggresion” was, I think, the most important aspect of singing for him. It is also part of what you address in terms of Hell Canto within a world-wide perspective.
Big leap to Courtney Love. I mentioned to you that I went to see a writer (Christophe Fiat) perform as a rock story-teller the life of Courtney Love. I was impressed by her as presented by him – and also, was she (is she) BAD ! I loved one of her quotes: “nobody plays the guitar as bad as I do” ! This was after she came across a graffiti in Seattle that said “Sex is revenge” followed by “Love is revenge”. She made it her motto and went around in a frenzy tagging the walls of Seattle with “Courtney Love is Revenge”. Etcetera. This is shadow as cultural Nemesis: imagine, her father, probably the ultimate Californian hippie, decided to educate his daughter with LSD, from age four!
BAD is crucial in art. When icons and ideas gather religious piety, there has to be clasm – iconoclasm – and in voice performance it is fundamentally BROKEN SOUNDS . (I hope you make us hear again the “broken” song by Bob Dylan!) Roy Hart brought some amazing broken sounds to the 60s musical avant-garde, to composers who were “feral” (?) especially in terms of political and psychiatric revolutionary positions. Which leads us to “ferality and pomposity”.
A mention first of your English friend, Phil Minton, who sort of coined the term “feral” for his approach to singing – and has been quite successful, performing at the Avignon Festival recently. Feral, (from OED): c.1600, from M.Fr. feral "wild," from L. fera, in phrase fera bestia "wild beast," from ferus "wild" (see fierce). wild, untamed, uncultivated, undomesticated, unbroken (!!!) savage, fierce, brutal, ferocious, fell, wild, vicious, bestial.
Although these words must be confronted, they need not be taken litterally. There can be incredible artistic aggression in something that is performed in great tenderness. It all depends on the context and on the references. We are talking performing art, singing, as something including but beyond litteral or “primal” acting out. It is here that one of the most difficult-to-deal-with myths comes up regarding the voice: the myth of consciousness. Roy Hart said in as many words that he was more conscious - of his self and of the sounds he was uttering than, say, Maxwell Davies, and that this gave him superiority, a ‘higher’ authority and authorship. This is such a tricky area! I think it is nevertheless crucial to at least hear about it if one is going to teach “singing after Roy Hart”.
Another leap. This time, to Sigmund Freud – who could be said to be the “father” (inventor!?) of consciousness. A new war is raging in Paris, yet another onslaught on Freud; this time with Le Crépuscule d’une Idole, a book by French philosopher Michel Onfray – very much the darling of ‘new philosophers’. Our friend Sonu Shamdasani was one of the instigators of the previous war, with Le Dossier Freud, and then with a contribution to Le Livre Noir de la Psychanalyse. There was such a fight last night on television! And they use such heavy artillery : fascism, mysoginy, fraud, perversion, power abuse, usurpation – everything goes, and in both directions!
Returning to “pomposity”. I think what comes through as pomposity (a minor sin compared with the ones above), although for some it came over as preposterous pretentiousness, was actually Roy Hart’s style of performing consciousness – especially his wish to control and perform language, tied to philosophies of his times and to a proselytising idea of the actor’s mission. And so British ! It was also the voice of RADA at the period, and of the BBC. Sometimes I ironize on the idea that “consciousness was British” – tinted with echoes of colonialism. The shadow of these attitudes are probably to be found in Roy Hart’s Jewishness (his change of name from Ruben Hartstein to Roy Hart) and in his South African roots – he had a very ambiguous relationship to Apartheid for instance, as to the fall of Franco, and to politics in general. This summer I will say more about the myths of the voice of the actor – especially in relation to the cult of Self: “finding your self”, “being true to your self” and of course “showing and even performing self”. Note: I fear pomposity when it is linked with piety – then I want to create feral panic! Roy Hart was not pious – he was radical, which is still my favorite word in this territory – going ‘at’ the cultural roots. But radicality is no guarantee for the artistic (or political) agenda.
Now, from “feral panic” to your mention of my Calling for Pan performance (1981). It certainly belonged to “Singing after Roy Hart” in terms of actual voice performance. It used fully the ‘Roy Hart’ extended voice model: broken sounds, chorded sounds, etc. But in fact this performance was for me above all a road elsewhere, to what I came to call choreographic theatre . It develops a very different philosophy of theatre, based on other myths of the voice and especially of the actor. I mention this in my hommage to Kozana . She helped me realize this move.
The lectures I will present this summer will be a summary of the themes we explored during the four Myth and Theatre Festivals at Malérargues (2005 to 2008) dedicated to Myths of the Voice – including the ones above. I will select the themes relevant to Roy Hart’s definition of singing. I would encourage you to do something similar with your lectures, though it will probably be tougher for you to summarize the vast soundscapes you took us through, including the fundamental impact of afro-american soul music, and all the ethno-shamanic discoveries since the 60s. One thing: I do not want to be invasive with my suggestions and I am certianly enjoying the dialogues.