Teachers, Cheaters, Gurus and Mentors

Voir traduction française.

5  sections


see comments & echanges with Steven Levine and Sean Lewis, below.


Teachers, Cheaters, Gurus and Mentors: Roy Hart was all of these, and more, like most great guiding figures. Each of these designations has its own mindscape and values; how to differentiate them? How to gage the balance and interplay of their inherent blueprints and moods – their evolution in time and the influence of other models, current or historic – sometimes unacknowledged, sometimes unknown? And how to do this in Roy Hart’s case, more than forty years after his passing? The following are “post-Roy Hart” reflections written as part of a process of reviewing and revisioning the transmission of Roy Hart’s legacy, especially by the persons now actively linked to the Roy Hart International Artistic Centre. The place is important since the process is, precisely, taking place in Malerargues, a property and a château purchased in 1974, only months before Roy Hart’s passing[1], a place – real estate – which to a large extent kept the group that followed him together, at least for some time, for better and for worse – and which today includes mostly persons who never met Roy Hart.

Some seven or eight years ago a Roy Hart Theatre Voice Teacher diploma was instituted. It is now being updated and overhauled – maybe cancelled. It seems that consensus wants two words taken out: “theatre” and “voice”. Theatre, because it implies a cohesive artistic enterprise, a company, which is not the case, especially artistically. Voice is more complex. Not including the word voice says basically that Roy Hart’s legacy was much more than “voice teaching”. I never actually heard him speak of “teaching voice”; his term was “singing”, and what he implied philosophically was a vast and exceptional weltanschauung – world-view.

The diploma was set up on two main models. As a school franchise, similar to models already existing – I think of two friends and great voice teachers: Kristin Linklater and Catherine Fitzmaurice; and, also, ‘benchmarking’ psychotherapy and analytical schools on questions of assessment and supervision. In my own life, having seen Roy Hart at work for some years in my twenties, I turned mostly, for my own TCGM (the title of this article…) training , to dialogues with friends who were (at one point almost all!) Analytical Psychology (Jungian) supervisors. I am thinking especially of Paul Kugler, Nor Hall, Sonu Shamdasani (a historian of psychology), and others, and of course James Hillman, all of whom observed and commented (some participated) in many of our laboratories and performance projects.

This article was triggered by a Roy Hart ‘trainee’, Costanza Amici, Italian, in her forties, with experience in and knowledge of Roy Hart’s legacy, and with a strong theoretical and practical background in ethno-anthropology. Costanza has worked with me in two or three substantial working occasions and therefore knows my own work and bias on these matters. As a response to what I described as the “monumentality” of the sudden agenda of our meeting – she caught me by surprise – I chose to comment by an article addressing the current horizon of trasmissione e formazione[2]. This is a formalized version.


About the title: Teachers, Cheaters, Gurus and Mentors. In terms of transmission, and concerning especially ‘artistic’ transmission, and as a corollary, voice teachers – or even more so Roy Hart (voice) teachers, I consider myself mainly a director – someone who points directions and who reflects on directions given or taken[3].

  1. Director of ideas, including psycho-analytical and psycho-therapeutic thinking – and “acting out”, that is, performative moves and gestures – on condition that these (thinking and performance) are geared primarily towards a “therapy of ideas”, (the term is Hillman’s; Roy Hart spoke in terms of 51% art, 49% therapy.)
  2. Director of performance, which includes teaching as a performative act. Today, performance is my main interest and criteria, especially in the laboratory developments of choreographic theatre and voice performance[4].

I have my own directors of ideas, and of performance; some have parted now, though I still hear and read their voices. Those alive are peers – some younger than me:  I study and am influenced, for instance, by the directions taken by Romeo Castellucci (theatre director) and Xavier Papaïs (philosopher).


In terms of trasmissione e formazione, I endorse the notion of mentorship. I have clearly stated that I think a Roy Hart diploma should be awarded “on a mentorship-based procedure”. So let me now turn to some reflections on “Mentor”. Wikipedia’s French definition is perfect for our purposes (translation below):

Dans la mythologie grecque, Mentor (en grec ancien Μέντωρ / Méntôr) est le précepteur de Télémaque, fils d’Ulysse.
Né à Ithaque, fils de l’Ithacien Alcimos, Mentor est un ami de longue date du roi Ulysse, qu’il assiste régulièrement de ses conseils. Lorsque Ulysse quitte son royaume pour participer à la guerre de Troie, il confie à Mentor l’éducation de son fils et la gestion de son patrimoine. Mentor devient donc le conseiller de Télémaque, qu’il guide dans ses choix. Quand les prétendants cherchent à contraindre Pénélope à choisir parmi eux un nouvel époux qui deviendrait ipso facto le nouveau roi d’Ithaque, c’est Mentor qui pousse Télémaque à partir rechercher son père.
La déesse Athéna, sous les traits de Mentor, s’adresse à Ulysse et à son fils pour leur dispenser ses conseils et les protéger.

Dans Les Aventures de Télémaque, paru en 1699, Fénelon donne un rôle considérable à Mentor. Dès le début du XVIIIe siècle, son nom passe dans la langue comme substantif pour désigner une personne très expérimentée dans un domaine qui accompagne une autre personne souvent plus jeune et moins expérimentée (mais non moins motivée), en réfléchissant, conseillant, et donnant du soutien moral pour l’aider à se développer ou à débuter avec succès dans sa fonction.

In Greek mythology, Mentor (in ancient Greek Μέντωρ / Méntôr) is the preceptor of Telemachus, son of Ulysses.
Mentor was born in Ithaca, son of the Ithacian Alcimos. He is a long-time friend of King Ulysses, whom he regularly advices. When Ulysses left his kingdom to participate in the Trojan war, he entrusted Mentor with the education of his son and the management of his patrimony. Mentor became the counselor of Telemachus, whom he guided in his choices. When the pretenders seek to compel Penelope to choose among them a new husband who would ipso facto become the new king of Ithaca, it is Mentor who drives Telemachus to seek his father.
The goddess Athena, under the guise of Mentor, addresses Ulysses and his son to advice and protect them.
In The Adventures of Telemachus, published in 1699, (French Bishop) Fenelon gives a considerable role to Mentor. From the beginning of the eighteenth century, his name passes into language as a substantive to designate a highly experienced person in a specific field that accompanies another person who is often younger and less experienced (but no less motivated), in reflection and moral support to help him develop or start successfully in his function.

Fénelon was a Catholic bishop, i.e. a high-ranked ‘shepherd’, officiating as preceptor (private teacher to young leaders), counselor (of ruling aristocrats), and confessor too (a very tricky assignment when dealing with powerful figures!), and, generally, though with moral-religious connotations, what is described as a “spiritual director”[5]. Fénelon was also dangerously engaged politically and got into trouble with Louis the XIVth  (him again!)

For now that is enough on Mentor – though there is much to say on the appearance and role of Athena. She was Ulysses’ divine ‘mentor’. Two friends and teachers of mine commented on this. Liza Mayer loved the way Ulysses dealt with ‘bossy’ but indispensable Athena: possitive metis. Charles Boer hated everything Ulysses did and called him nothing less than a pyschopath – negative metis.


When asked how I might differentiate art and therapy, my brief answer was that it is a matter of dependence and dominance. Mimesis is inevitable and fundamental (i.e. imitatio Christi) but the trainee should not be (made) dependent on the guiding figure, nor on his or her models and manners – and instead made to develop autonomy of judgment and ‘owned’ models of teaching and performance. The mentor on the other must be very aware of (trained in!) the challenges of dominance (the danger of models that infantilize trainees.) The mentor model is not to be confused with that of the “Helping Professions”, much as it needs to learn from them. Peer exchanges, even analysis, is essential to oversee any form of therapy[6].


Asked why I still refer to the name Roy Hart. Some thoughts:

  1. Malérargues makes it necessary. As things have gone these last years with the revival of the name Roy Hart Theatre (or, for some, ‘born-again’), there is a danger of candid and nostalgic orthodoxy. Hence my favoring a diploma on a strictly minimum basis, with a demanding protocol that can integrate differences. I am against any form of school or even of philosophical program content.
  2. Important: Roy Hart was an out-of-the-ordinary man. I called him an ethical genius[7]. Viviane Young, his friend, called him “a human mutant”. This must be faced and said. The nearest to his manner of teaching is to be found in the tradition of Indian Vedic and Buddhist gurus (Osho was one of the latest). Or in a figure like Gurdjieff – who was a strong influence, if not the strongest, on Roy Hart. (See The Three Dangerous Magi – on Osho, Gurdjieff and Crawley.)
  3. Today his ideas are like a powerful source gushing out into my own pool of cultural genes and daimons: a ‘cultural broth’, now quite a whirlpool of influences. Roy Hart is one of my underworld (or overworld) super-egos, no question; with others. And here I refer specifically to his idealistic, expressive, even expressionist, performative philosophy, what he called singing. This is VERY difficult to explain and especially to defend in dialogues with philosopher friends.
  4. Like Vedic gurus, Roy Hart practiced his ideals in a sectarian mode. And with exceptional but excessive drive (in my view.) It crashed. For me, he did not empower enough his followers, and he cut himself off from the world[8]. When Costanza Amici asked me what is most important today for me – she referred to examples such as “finding one’s self” or “becoming a better artist” – I replied: “To vote”, that is, to participate in the struggle for democracy and tolerance. That is what my artistic work is first about. How? The reader will have to make some time and come observe the criteria at work (or, better, take part) in a practice laboratory. My own theoretical writings probably only partially address the enterprise and its sources. Hence the importance I attach to critical studies and dialogues, and why observers’ comments are so welcome.
  5. Roy Hart died in 1975 at the moment when most post-modern thinking was emerging: firstly (as far as I am concerned) Archetypal Psychology (James Hillman), but also Feminism, Ecology, Gay, Queer and Gender Studies, Derrida’s deconstruction and post-structuralist theories, and, very important, Post-Colonial Studies[9]. Roy Hart did read early Counter-Culture ideas and was influenced by them, especially by its Californian proposals[10]. But the foundations of his ideals were modeled by modernism: Freud, Jung, and Wolfsohn’s romantic idealism. Roy Hart was sometimes shocking in his psychological colonialism – and not only about his native South-Africa. Today the “room with a piano” model is considered eurocentric and colonial. The cream of that cultural model (romantic-modernist) was enacted by the elite of Western culture: Easter-European Jews – like Wolfsohn – like Kafka. We know how much Hitler hated (and envied) Jewish high-culture (including, or maybe especially, its radical Dadaistic avant-garde), and probably because it was successfully the best of European white ‘colonial’ culture, and that he was, as many have argued, a failed artist[11].


Concerning Teachers and Cheaters [12]. Once, a theatre student committed the great slip: “You, as the cheater… oh sorry, I meant as the teacher, etc.” Done! And it is a compliment: it belongs to the art of casuistics, which for me is possibly the most important aspect of “transmission”. (I am wary, on the other hand, of Socratic maieutics; more on that in future reflections.) Roy Hart was a casuistic and maieutic genius, a great teacher-cheater. I think it was in his Jewish Talmudic genes. My own studies in casuistics were mostly in Baroque esthetics, Italian and Spanish. Today I turn my attention to a wide field, going from Shamanism (for instance: “You are a shaman as long as your luck lasts” – I paraphrase Roberte Hamayon[13]) to Algorithms. The actual title of this series of blog articles is “Algorithms and Shamanism”. Today I am consulting principally mantics and theatre as divination.

Enrique Pardo, Malerargues, August 6th 2017.


[1] In a recent intense talk with philosopher Xavier Papaïs, he commented, with his direct, wry humor: “Il vous a laissé sur le sable!” (He took you to a desert island and left you on the beach!) Pace.

[2]  I include an extract of Costanza Amici’s own reflections: “In terms of transmission and training, in Italian I would use the words trasmissione e formazione. They refer to practices (and thus theories) that in anthropology we refer to as anthropopoietic, and they strongly imply the concept and exercise of power, thus power relationships …  Anthropopoiesis is a very delicate process of incarnation. Anthropos, refers to be a human being and to be human (as part of a specific – culturally specific – group of human beings); poiesis refers to the making as manufacturing and producing, it really implies the gesture of ‘mettere le mani in pasta’, which in English it may be translated literally with … to knead and to impaste. This is a process in action in any transmission (and in any in-depth relation) and strongly implies the process of transformation as well. This opens the way to many more considerations towards therapy and the therapeutic also.”

[3] This includes the role of metteur en scène –theatre director in its conventional sense.

[4] The notion of voice accrues onto itself nowadays the philosophical dimensions commented by Jacques Derrida in his 1967 book La Voix et le Phénomène. Roy Hart did not, as far as I know, come across it. On the other hand, Hillman’s “seeing through” has often been compared to Derrida’s deconstruction proposals. I have found that the notion of anima as Hillman elaborates on it has similarities with how Derrida’s (de)constructs the notion of voice. My most advanced work today (divinatory, oracular) is ultimately on voice and text, a tandem that can be close to how Derrida used the notion of “écriture”.

[5] A great singer and artist, Venice Manley, once said to me, long ago when we first met : “I tell you my dreams and private life because I trust in you. Most wisdom advice warns that it amounts to handing over power.” It was her cunning way of establishing a mentorship moral contract between us. See next note.

[6] A recommendation : Power in the Helping Professions, 1973, by Adolf Guggenbühl-Craig, who was a close (Mentor-friend?) of James Hillman.

[7] I developed this point in a teachers’ symposium in April 2016 at Malérargues. See pdf PRESENTATION titled “Roy Hart, Philosophy and Pedagogy”.

[8] These two critical points, of course, would need developing. This is not the context to do so: they need a retrospective and historical – and sociological – approach and belong very much to the 1960s and 70s. Neither do I include here my “retrospective” views on the directions that Roy Hart turned to in performances. I have broached some ideas in the section titled The Narcissism of Subjectivity, in: Electricity in Hell, Notes on Romeo Castellucci’s performance Genesis – Spring Journal 67, 2000. See PDF.

[9] The very idea of consciousness as a conquest of the unconscious is considered as “colonial” by some post-colonial thinkers. See for instance the writings of Frantz Fanon or of Neil Lazarus.

[10] See pdf PRESENTATION titled “Roy Hart, Philosophy and Pedagogy”.

[11] A failed artist, probably, but what a performer ! Roy Hart referred very often to Hitler’s voice performance. His point was: if you do not ‘sing’ Hitler, Hitler will ‘sing’ you – i.e. enchant you. It was reflections like this that made me want to perform Hitler five years ago. See Hitler, A Performance Study.

[12] Two other related terms. Facilitator: given its etymology I say I am a complexifier. Tutor – has similar connotations to Mentor. I once was officially a teacher-tutor at Goldsmith College of Art, University of London, early 1970s, a very interesting experience; But I was definitely too young to be a Mentor.

[13] Roberte Hamayon. Just think of the title of one of her books : La chasse à l’âme, esquisse d’une théorie du chamanisme sibérien Hunting (for) soul, sketching a theory of Siberian shamanism. The quote I paraphrase I heard her say in a series of post-doctoral seminars I attended at la Sorbonne. See PRESENTATION.

6 réflexions sur “Teachers, Cheaters, Gurus and Mentors

  1. Pingback: Plutarch and Santa Maria Presenting Maria Fernandez | Enrique Pardo

  2. Bravo Enrique! Mentors are always cheaters–unless it is that the student is the cheater, in the sense that he must betray his mentor if he is to be true to him (though why masculine pronouns?). Derrida is very clear about this.
    I did not study with Roy Hart, but everything I’ve seen and heard about his work, and all the « voice » teachers I’ve worked with, indicates a « direction » very different from your own. You definitely have betrayed him wonderfully. As for me, I’m still on the way (« unterwegs ») to… ? If I knew, I would already be there. But I must say you have « influenced » me–flowed into the river of my thinking and being. I still remember the performance of Celan’s « Death Fugue » that you made me do in clown–tres drole, mon ami, et tres puissant!
    For the last few years, I’ve been studying Butoh. Somehow it seems a continuation of our work together.
    Besos y abrazos to you and Linda, Steve


    • Dear Steve. The mention to Kafka in my article was specifically due to you! Re. Wolfsohn and Roy Hart, I once asked you about the tradition of travelling Talmudic teachers. You replied: “Ah yes, he comes to your house, drinks your whisky and seduces your wife »!
      I wrote about “déniaiser”…to smarten up (niais = simpleton). Hence betrayal: there is no initiation if you do not feel betrayed, broken into, broken…” You replied: “I like this idea of déniaiser – it reminds me of Kant’s comment that reading David Hume « woke me from my dogmatic slumber. » …I think there are many different heritages that come from the Jewish tradition. My favourite line of descent comes from Kafka, Benjamin and – Hillman!”
      And just in case someone reads this and thinks you are ONLY a well read young Butoh performer, I must add: I am absolutely thrilled and honored by your words: you are a doctor in philosophy, director of the prestigious European Graduate Institute program of creative therapy, and… over eighty years old. The youngest participant ever in any of my workshops. Huge hug to you. Enrique


  3. bravo Enrique i am continually intrigued by your writing and speaking on Roy Hart and hope you continue to write, speak, and publish on these subjects / histories / questions etc

    it was something for me to go back to ‘Roy Hart’ 13 years separated from my last visit.

    i am feeling the need myself to articulate why i see this place as so unique and significant and rare.
    of course, i view it through Pan – and this is a particular bias, nonetheless it is my bias.

    i do not see anywhere a place that has such a continuity of lived history associated with a unchanging location. and i see your work as being rare in drawing through this line – lived / interpreted / expanded upon (Pan Theatre, as i see it, continues to create a radical present at Roy Hart that is unique and essential). That Pan Theatre does both things: 1) interprets the past – a past that both you and Linda experienced first hand (very rare), and 2) continue to vibrantly upon the literal soil to create new futures is to me a singularity in the artistic landscape. i see no other place so rooted in such a lived history while going simultaneously towards an unknown dynamic present.

    that you were there and continue to be there (and Linda) and continue to facilitate such events as this summer is extraordinary and singular. i’ve said as much in describing the experience to colleagues and people in NY. this is combined with Roy Hart being so obscure, and off the track, and refreshingly maintained in its dusty outsider(ness). bad internet, flies, hippies, and folklore.
    it is so wonderful. a hidden gem you want to not talk to much about because i feel folks would flock there. it is the type of place that we only ‘dream’ of – places like Roy Hart do not exist anymore. they have never existed. they only exist in nostalgic remembering.

    i visited Robert Wilson’s place this spring with Claire and we went through the process of the long application for the prestigious residency they offer. That aside, the place is basically a monument to R.Wilson and his narcissism. the opulence of his super-sheik post-modern universe with it’s Buddhist elite furniture and pictures of Lou Reed – so sexy. perfect internet. it is a compound not a space or a place with history and SOUL. it is a museum. and the guide reminds that Mr. Wilson is booked through 2021 and that he stays there 2 months out of the year. i was attracted not one bit to it being a place of creation, but super attracted to its call to sex and power and opulence. you want to masturbate by yourself and put on a duck costume. more nihilist than a place to dream.
    needlessness to say they rejected the Lilac proposal (i think that is the 3rd time / maybe 4th).

    these recent visits (Roy Hart and R. Wilson) make for nice contrasts in this moment of art making and in this moment of world politics.

    a few days after leaving Roy Hart this summer i had an exchange with Brazilian Theatre Artist Ana Marceliano, her company is the Dirigivel Collective, and these are her words that have stuck with me very much.
    « We are speaking from very different places. When I arrived in Paris, to go to Malerargues, that was the first time I have being in Europe, and it was such a weird experience, because there were a hundred people (not people, tourists) shopping on the streets, and I saw just one or two persons living at the streets, this is exactly the opposite of my country, where there is a hundred people living at the streets, and people who have money to shop cannot be walking for it, they have to go to a shopping by car to run away from the poverty and violence. Capitalism do that with cites, there is no interest to create spaces where people could be together, that’s not interesting for capitalism, people don’t have to talk to each other, don’t have to love, people has to feel empty, then they will buy, clothes, food, drink, television, and think that they could fill this empty. Marc Augé is the guy who wrote « Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity », he says that capitalism creates those non places, spaces that has not enough meaning to be called places, so our cities are made of spaces of movement, not places to be, but places to pass through. »

    Roy Hart / particularly the Pantheatre expedience there (which is all i know) draws an incredibly diverse universe – and this is proven eye opening for me in my horse-blinder NYC white/privileged/elite rat cage. i detest the R.Wilson institute – but beg for acceptance then go into depression when rejected and try again. a dog chasing its tail.
    Ana’s words break this loop, as does the Myth and Theatre Festival, hosted by Pantheatre at Roy Hart.

    I recently moved in NYC to a place in Brooklyn surrounded by public housing. People of color / black and Hispanic dominate, and the feel of the neighborhood is fantastic. these folks do not know, nor will they ever care to know where the next experimental theatre happening in NYC is. there is violent disconnect here. i have no solution. myself, i am more lower middle class / blue collar white. none in my family went to college., but they share the not caring / nor ever caring where the next urban / white elite art event is with my new neighbors in the public housing. what does that mean?

    why am i trying begging for entry into this world? my experience at Roy Hart and provocations like Ana’s opens to me other desperately needed spaces. spaces that speak to different histories and a different possible futures.


    • Dear Sean,
      Many many thanks for your comments on my article: they merit yet another (huge!) article.
      Basically, Malerargues – the place – often actually called “Roy Hart”, especially by locals, with no idea that it was the name of a person! – Malerargues the château (of the massive Southern mas kind), its outbuildings including the old silk-worm Magnanerie which we transformed into two theatre spaces and three vaulted studios, form a hamlet surrounded by some thirty hectars of wild but very “real” estate), is a pastoral dream. Both an illusion (the gate of horn) and a dellusion (the gate of ivory). We all, you included, walk in and out through these two gates – not often knowing which gate it is. I have been doing this since the beginning in 1974 when I chose to invest in the ‘real estate’ dream and now own part of it.
      One day…. I will write about it… Last night I read a scholarly article on why Anchises, Aeneas’ father, makes him come back to the world of the living through the Ivory Gate, after his descent into the Underworld. The Ivory Gate is the gate of delluded, false dreams… Here are some of the speculations: “…he wanted to signify that everything that happened in the Underworld was false (!)” Or: “The gate of Ivory closed at midnight. Only dead souls with worthy dreams for the (sleeping) living could cross after midnight.” Or: “Given that Aeneas was a robust and fully armed man, he would never have got through the security of the Gate of Horn…” Ah, another Trickster trying to fool Death! Etcetera. Incidentally, Malérargues comes from the Argus of Malerius, most likely a roman officer awarded the land after Domitian’s expeditions. Nothing to do with “malus” or evil waters…
      With my best wishes for your Dancing Layers project. Hasta pronto!

      Aimé par 1 personne

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