The idea for "Bardoville" came about while pondering the current sociopolitical landscape and watching the world as I knew it collapsing behind me with the new world not yet in sight. This harrowing awareness reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist term "bardo" which refers to the 49-day intermediary stage between human incarnations. As a culture, I think we are currently passing through a major bardo, an epic state between states, where the future remains unknown yet also open to the potentials of creation.
I wanted to explore this bardo as a setting for an intermedia performance ritual called "Bardoville", a place between places where an organic complexity between three related groups unfolded: 1) a poet performing his work before an audience (text by Bukowski) 2) seven chiefly nonverbal characters taking the stage at whim 3) a women's improvisational vocal ensemble.
The seven characters were developed during "2-Faced Clowns", a 10-week ParaTheatrical Research Lab where we explored our personal and collective hypocrisies as a foundation for physical characterization, not as conventional clowns but as exaggerated aspects of our own contrary human natures. My wife and collaborator (since 1989), Sylvi joined this ritual experiment while rehearsing independently with E.V.E. (Experimental Vocal Ensemble) towards improvising vocal creations for the performance. I met with Randal Slager over five Sundays to find the integrity of giving voice to Bukowski's poetry of great clarity, insight, humor, and brilliance.
What happens in BARDOVILLE, and how it happens, transforms with each and every rehearsal and each performance; no performance the same. The seven Paratheatre-trained performers onstage are applying methods that support high levels of unpredictability allowing for an organic unfolding of interactions between themselves; none of them knows what will happen next. These performers also do not relate to, or confront, the audience directly; that experience belongs to the Poet (who is actually a story-teller posing as a poet). The women of E.V.E. (guided by Sylvi Alli) offer vocal creations that serve the moment-to-moment dynamics onstage as it unfolds before their eyes; their sounds and tones also transform with each performance.
As with every film and experimental theatre work I develop and produce, the underlying vision remains the same: Insurrection of the Poetic Imagination. I am not interested in offending the audience with any film or theatre of "ideas or messages or morality"; we have been schooled and churched enough! My aim is to incite a series of riots in the personal and collective Imagination and evoke strong visceral and spiritual resonances in the audience. In experimental theatre, this would not be possible without the performers' total commitment to their own visceral and spiritual resonances and the risks taken to perform a total offering of the self; "the total act", as Jerzy Grotowski would say. These visceral and spiritual processes remain central to the Paratheatre training methods learned and applied in "Bardoville" and every other theatre work I am compelled to develop and direct.
- Antero Alli, artistic director
ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX
Back to "Bardoville"