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Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music
WithPamela Howard, Pavel Drábek
Pages 30

In 1998 walking down Piccadilly I chanced upon an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art. And on the spur of the moment decided to go and have a look. The posters outside Burlington House seemed to indicate an exhibition of paintings – a great personal passion. Entering the gallery, I was shocked to discover immediately someone – unknown to me – was making gouache works out of three colours – red, yellow and blue – and from these three making a myriad of colours just as I love to do. Making the maximum from the minimum has been a constant source of pleasure and mystery as I have progressed through childhood and art student life and have done exactly the same – from those three colours. It was a profound moment of recognition. The paintings by Charlotte Salomon (1917–1943) were small, and the narrative boards explained they were all memories of her former life in Berlin made over two years, when she was in exile/hiding in Villefranche-sur-Mer in the South of France in her grandparents’ small cottage ‘La Bergerie’ hidden in the grounds of the large house facing the sea ‘l’Hermitage’ (see Charlotte Salomon, Life? or Theatre?, New York: Viking Press, 1981). I contemplated in what form this could work as a contemporary theatre work.