on "the asocial"
© 2003-2018 by Antero Alli
While working together in an asocial climate, a unique group unity unfolds
from each person's heightened commitment to their own internal sources while
sharing that Presence with others and being acted on by the Presence of others.
An Asocial Approach to Group Dynamics
"Asocial interplay" refers to a paratheatrical process of group interaction that is neither antisocial nor social but a third way of relating without being socially hostile or socially-conforming. An asocial approach in this Paratheatre group work starts with realizing our non-responsibility to others. This adjustment initiates a critical shift from being in a group to meet social needs -- approval, support, affection, acceptance, friendship, courtship, etc from others -- to redirecting our commitment to internal sources and their direct expression through movement, sound, gesture, action. This shift from the social to the asocial expresses a necessary prerequisite to greater authenticity and creative response in this paratheatre medium. When we are able to relax and bypass social considerations, we are free to be more honest with ourselves, our true feelings, and how we express ourselves.
"Asocial interplay" is not the same as improvisation, as its commonly defined and known in theatre and dance. When engaged in asocial interplay, we want nothing from anybody else nor do we depend on external cues from others (or an audience) to spark or sustain interaction. Asocial interplay sustains itself by each individual's deepening commitment to a predetermined internal source that, with increasing commitment, eventually blossoms - as if by itself - as an expanding presence expressed through vocalization, gesture, and action. This results in a spirit of offering, rather than one of taking or getting.
Asocial interplay is never forced or encounter-based. In high levels of asocial interplay, we are acted on and influenced by the presence, actions, and sounds of each other, while committing to the internal source we are engaging. This process requires a kind of "double vision" for remaining fully commited to one's internal sources while staying aware of the immediate environment of others -- allowing for higher levels of individual integrity and autonomy while interacting -- rather than relating from socially accepted behaviors, protocols, and other types of social exchange.
Space-Forming and the Safety Vow
An asocial climate can be initiated by any action that increases spatial awareness, such as the paratheatre method of "space-forming". Space-farming starts by getting your attention off yourself and redirecting it onto the external space around, below, and above you. Once attention can be redirected onto the space itself as a value, we physically move through space while expressing our physical relationship with the space, moment to moment, as we go. As spatial awareness increases, so does awareness of the personal space around others - the immediate area, or auric field, surrounding each self-governing body. As this awareness expands, a mutual respect for personal space develops, a respect that supports a climate of safety in the group. When we feel more safe, we are more likely to risk becoming more vulnerable and available to our internal sources.
An asocial climate can be sustained by taking a silent vow to become fully responsible for your own safety. Paratheatre work can trigger cathartic release, convulsive physical and emotional responses, and sudden loud vocalizations that can throw us off balance and even frighten us. Taking a vow to be accountable for your own safety means whenever your sense of equillibrium or well being is temporarily interrupted or threatened, you simply do your best to restore a sense of safety. You make yourself safe; nobody will teach you how to do this. Restoring your sense of safety, or "getting back to center", involves an idiosyncratic trial-by-error process of experimentation. For example, when you get frightened perhaps you can start jumping up and down to feel the bottoms of your soles and reclaim your personal space. Experiment! Taking this silent vow of personal safety increases individual integrity and autonomy, core values in this Paratheatre work. When a group agrees to take this vow, nobody has to wait for someone else to make us safe. Become your own Mom and Dad so the Child can feel safe and free to play.
No Belief System or Dogma or Ideal for Living
Though our social needs are very real and important, they can also inhibit spontaneity and a more creative expression of ourselves when interacting with others. Those who enter this Paratheatre process to meet their social needs -- for acceptance, for family and community belonging, for friendship or courtship, for approval -- meet with frustration. Paratheatre simply does not support a social process. This is why participation in ParaTheatrical ReSearch Labs requires an active and healthy social life beyond the workspace. To this end, participants are asked not to chit-chat or socialize before and during each work session. After each session is over, everyone is free to socialize as they will. This asocial approach is not a philosophy or a belief system or a dogma nor is it meant as any ideal for living. It's simply a device to support a more direct experience of the Body's treasure trove of forces, images, memories, and emotions within the group dynamics of Paratheatre. We use this asocial approach as a tool and not an end in itself. After the tool is used, we put it back in the shed and return to our social lives.
THIS PAGE UPDATED: 12/6/2018
Other Writings on Paratheatre
by Antero and others
Paratheatre Trigger Methods: Inner and Outer Actions
State of Emergence: A Paratheatre Manifesto