on the term "asocial"
© 2003-2017 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 and Asocial Interplay
"Asocial" is neither antisocial nor social but a third way of relating that is neither socially hostile or socially-conforming. An asocial approach in 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, etc from others -- to redirecting our commitment to our internal sources and their direct expression through movement, sound, gesture, action. This shift from the social to the asocial is a necessary prerequisite to Paratheatre training and its objectives of greater authenticity, creative response, and integrity of self-expression. When we are more free of social considerations, we are free to be more honest with ourselves, our true feelings, and how we express ourselves.
"Asocial interplay" refers to how group interaction occurs in this Paratheatre medium. This is not the same as improvisation, as its known in theatre and dance. When engaged in asocial interplay, we want nothing from anybody nor do we depend on external cues from others (or an audience) to spark or sustain interaction. Asocial interplay is sustained by each individual's deepening commitment to a predetermined internal source that, with increasing commitment, eventually blossoms - as if by itself - as an offering of presence, sound, gesture, and action.
Asocial interplay is never forced nor is it encounter-based. In high levels of asocial interplay, we are acted on and influenced by the presence, actions, and sounds of each other, while remaining loyal to the internal source we are engaging and serving. In this way, asocial interplay demonstrates high levels of individual integrity, autonomy, and creativity while relating with others -- rather than relating with others through socially accepted behaviors, protocols, and contracts of exchange (friendship, partnership, romance, etc). What happens in each 3-hour Paratheatre session is also nonverbal and solitary in nature, where everyone is busy applying a series of "trigger methods" before interacting with others. The primary focus of this training process is integrity-building so we may eventually discover new ways of relating without compromising or violating our individual integrity or autonomy.
Space-Forming and the Safety Vow
An asocial climate can be amplified by any action that increases spatial awareness. One way to do this is though applying the Paratheatre method of "space-forming", an adjustment that starts with getting your attention off yourself and onto the external space around, below, and above you. Once your attention is redirected onto the space itself as a value, the next step is physically moving through that space while expressing your relationship with the space, moment to moment, as you go. Space-forming naturally expands spatial awareness. As our spatial awareness increases, so does our awareness of the personal space around others - the immediate area around each self-governing body. In this awareness of each other's personal space, a shared respect develops that allows us to become more vulnerable and available to our more authentic impulses and responses -- free of the social compulsions to seek external acceptance or approval or support, the crimping habits of self-consciousness, and other inhibiting considerations.
An asocial climate also happens by taking a silent vow to become responsible for your own safety. Paratheatre work can unleash cathartic emotion, convulsive physical responses, and sudden loud vocalizations -- our own and others' -- that can throw us off balance and even frighten us. Taking a vow to be accountable for your own safety means that whenever your sense of equillibrium or well being is temporarily interrupted, you do your best to restore a sense of safety. Nobody can teach you how to do this. Restoring your sense of safety, or "getting back to center", is an idiosyncratic process of trial-by-error and experimentation. For example, when you lose yourself or get frightened maybe you start jumping up and down to reclaim your personal space. Experiment! Taking this silent vow of personal safety increases individual integrity and autonomy, two core values in this Paratheatre work. When we agree to take this vow, we don't wait for someone else to make us safe; we agree to be adults.
Asocial; not a Belief System or a Dogma
Our social needs are very real and important but 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 courtship, for approval -- inevitably collide with frustration. Paratheatre simply is not 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 3-hour work session. After each session is over, everyone is free to socialize as they will. To be clear, this asocial approach is not a philsophy, a belief system or a dogma nor is it meant as any ideal for living. It's simply a device to experience more effective ritual, self-work, and group dynamics in the highly creative process of Paratheatre. Much like many other Paratheatre methods, this asocial approach is used as a tool and not an end in itself.
THIS PAGE UPDATED: 6/22/2017
Other Writings on Paratheatre
by Antero and others
Paratheatre Trigger Methods: Inner and Outer Actions
State of Emergence: A Paratheatre Manifesto