Experimental Theatre
"Towards a Visceral Embodiment of the Poetic Imagination"
Vision statement © 2016/17 Antero Alli


The true purpose of the theatre is to create Myths, to express life
in its immense universal aspect, and from that life to extract images
in which we find pleasure in discovering ourselves
.
- Antonin Artaud


from "Orphans of Delirium" (performance; 2004, San Francisco CA)

Experimental; a specific word carrying nonspecific meaning. What is really meant by experimental? Is it some rebellion against tradition ? Or some wild and crazy production rife with self-indulgence and assaults on the audience ? Or is it some art form or type of music or a painting that's simply too obscure to understand ? When I hear the word "experimental", I want to know the specific experiment being conducted. If there's no experiment, it's not experimental to me. Though an artistic production or music recital may be called "experimental", without an active experiment taking place, it's not experimental to me. According to this definition, I am an Experimentalist.

In 1977, I began developing a medium of Paratheatre inspired by the work of Polish theatre genius Jerzy Grotowski (in Louis Malle's film, "My Dinner with Andre", Andre Gregory talks constantly of Grotowski's "paratheatre"). Over the next four decades, I trained hundreds of actors, dancers, singers, and non-performers alike in Paratheatre methods towards increasing access to the internal landscape -- of forces, images, and emotions innate to the body itself -- and its expression through movement, gesture, presence, sound, and characterizations. Most of this Paratheatre group work happened in private, without an audience, in a non-performance orientation to learn the "trigger methods" of this Paratheatre medium (between 1977 and 2015, only a dozen paratheatrical performance works were produced).

 


FILMS: "The Invisible Forest" (2008) and "Flamingos" (2012)

Between 1995 and 2015 (while continuing private paratheatre work with groups), I immersed myself in nonstop film production -- writing, directing, shooting and producing eleven feature-length art films and several paratheatre video documents. Throughout this era of nonstop cinema, my wife Sylvi composed most of the music featured in the film soundtracks. Though the stories and characters changed with each of feature, the experiment remained the same: insurrection of the Poetic Imagination. I wasn't interested in creating a cinema of ideas or messages or morality but with providing audiences with new ways of seeing and a direct stimulus to the imaginal faculties. Since my processes and products subvert mainstream values, I accept that my work can never become popular or populist.

It's now clear to me how a healthy, active imagination nurtures the ineffable presence of soul and that imagination is stimulated by a deepening capacity for human experience. A vital imagination empowers us to create our own images, a critical attribute in this hyper-media era bombarding our psyches with prefabricated images from advertising geniuses and mass media moguls. Oversaturaton with images we did not create ourselves not only acts as a force of oppression to our imaginations but creates its own kind of confusion between simulation and actual experience. This confusion can result in a diminshing capacity for actual experience unmediated by media influences and associations. In the current hyper media era, the faculty of imagination is the canary in the coal mine. Imagination death precedes death of soul!

 


Sylvi Alli in "A Turbulence of Muses" (performance; 2016, Portland)

After twenty prolific years of Paratheatre Labs, Music and Film production in Berkeley California, Sylvi and I relocated to Portland Oregon in October of 2015 to create works of an intermedia ritual-based theatre - incorporating Paratheatre, poetic text, music & song, video/film - directed by myself with musical direction by Sylvi. After presenting a series of non-performance oriented training Labs, a core group eventually emerged motivated towards performance. The big picture vision guiding eveything we have done so far and will do: the insurrection, and visceral embodiment, of the Poetic Imagination.

These early efforts met with success. Our first Portland production, "A Turbulence of Muses" a symbolist ritual (text by Arthur Rimbaud) came to fruition in the Muses Lab and premiered December 2-4 2016 at Performance Works NW. The "2-Faced Clowns Lab" explored personal and collective hypocrisy as a resource for developing characters in "Bardoville" (text by Charles Bukowski; vocal creations by Sylvi and E.V.E.) that premiered May 12-14 of 2017 to critical acclaim. Our next production, "Soror Mystica: Ritual Invocation of the Anima", will be workshopped in the Alchemy Lab and premiere Dec 1-3, 2017 (in collaboration with Sylvi and E.V.E. Poetic text by HD).
'


"Bardoville" (performance; 2017, Portland)

Every production is preceded by a 10-week workshop (Lab) where Paratheatre methods are used to develop each new work. Our approach is highly visceral, ritualistic and experimental. ParaTheatrical ReSearch is not a theatre of ideas, messages, politics, or morality. We don't perform stage plays nor do we use any scripts beyond the poetic text spoken as an integral part of each performance. An invisible (to the audience) scaffolding of ritual designs help to contain the living ritual at the pulsating heart of each performance. We aim to impact audiences with the experience of spontaneous energy, of spirits, unleashed from great poetry, from the self-governing bodies of our performers, and the atmosphere of amplified vocal creations and improvised music. Short films (by Antero Alli) and video clips are also screened and always as an innate component of each production.

ParaTheatrical ReSearch is not a company of fixed players as much as a kind of molting group that develops each new performance work with those best suited for the unique challenges of each production. Though a core group of individuals persists in each work, we remain open to inquiries from others across the performance spectrum - theatre, dance, voice, music, clown, martial arts, vaudeville - open to exploring an intermedia ritual-based theatre. Sometimes those who are invited to join us also participate in Paratheatre training to learn our unique somatic processes. ParaTheatrical ReSearch is a non-union, self-funded collective; we don't do grants.


- Antero Alli - Artistic Director
ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX
noform@paratheatrical.com
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