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 (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; my wife Sylvi composed most of the 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 stimulus to the imaginal faculties.

It's now clear to me how a healthy, active imagination nurtures the ineffable presence of soul. 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 years of ongoing Paratheatre Labs, Music and Film production in Berkeley California, Sylvi and I relocated to Portland Oregon in October of 2015 to develop new works of experimental theatre. New to Portland and not knowing any other performers here, we chose to present a series of Paratheatre training Labs throughout 2016 with the hopes of finding others to work with. A core group of five or six eventually magnetized around an ritual-based intermedia theatre.

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 recent production, "Soror Mystica: Ritual Invocation of the Anima", was workshopped in the Alchemy Performance Lab and premiered Dec 1-3, 2017 (musical direction by Sylvi Alli; text by Hilda Doolittle aka HD); also to critical acclaim. Our next production, "Fallen Monsters", premieres May 11-13, 2018.

'


"Bardoville" (performance; May 2017, Portland)

Ritual Into Theatre. Each production is preceded by a 10-week workshop (Lab) where Paratheatre methods are used to discover how rituals might evolve into an experimental theatre, eschewing any theatre of ideas, messages, politics, or morality. We don't perform stage plays nor do we use any conventional scripts beyond the poetic text spoken as an integral part of each performance. Within each production, an invisible (to the audience) paratheatrical infrastructure contains a living ritual animating each performance. We aim to impact audiences with experience - of spontaneous energy, of spirits unleashed from the self-governing bodies of our performers, sonic atmospheres and music, great poetry spoken as oblique narratives, and short films.

ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX 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 - who wish to work with us. Sometimes those invited to join us also participate in Paratheatre training to learn the fundamentals of our unique somatic language. ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX is a non-union, self-funded collective; we don't do grants or suckle the corporate teet.


- Antero Alli, Artistic Director
- Sylvi Alli, Musical Director
noform@paratheatrical.com
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