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In 1977 Antero was inspired by the Paratheatre of Jerzy Grotowski and over the next four decades, he combined his early theatre experience and training (see below) towards the creation of his own paratheatre medium -- as documented in his book, "Towards an Archeology of the Soul" (Vertical Pool, 2003), in videos (1992-2017), and in academia by Nicoletta Isar, Professor at the Institute of Art History, Copenhagen University (2008). Between 1975 and 2005, Antero wrote, directed, produced and performed in numerous experimental theatre productions. In 2005, Antero stopped creating theatre and wrote and directed a series of feature-length art films -- including "The Greater Circulation" (2005; 93 min) a critically acclaimed cinematic treatment of Rainer Maria Rilke's "Requiem for a Friend", "The Invisible Forest" (2008; 111 min) featuring the radical ideas of French Surrealist, Antonin Artaud, "To Dream of Falling Upwards"(2011; 120 min), exploring the occult worlds of rural and urban sorcery and "The Book of Jane" (2013; 115 min.), an urban fable of Feminine initiation. In late 2015 Antero ended his 23-year era of filmmaking and returned to his roots in experimental theatre in Portland Oregon where he continues paratheatre group work.
EARLY TRAINING, EXPERIENCE, & INSPIRATION
My earliest theatrical training (1970/71) took the form of Mime Theatre with acclaimed physical theatre artist Keith Berger (protege of Paul J. Curtis, American Mime Theatre, NYC) and Method Acting at the Lee Strasborg Institute (1971-72; with Peggy Feury in Hollywood). In 1972/73, I joined Dudesheep Theatre, a communal experimental theatre company (Oakland CA) inspired by the radical values of The Living Theatre. Between 1972 and 1978, I taught and performed mime while writing and directing five experimental theatre plays (see Production History below). In 1976/77, I participated in a series of group ritual experiments directed by artist/composer David Rosenbloom inspired by the film Akropolis (Laboratory Theatre performance) and the book, Towards a Poor Theater -- both by Polish theatre visionary, Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999). These early influences combined to initiate my life's work.
THE GENESIS OF A PARATHEATRE MEDIUM
In 1977, I started developing my own paratheatre medium combining principles and techniques of physical theatre, dance, Zazen meditation, and voice/song within an asocial group setting. Over the next thirty-plus years and three cities (Berkeley CA, Boulder CO, and Seattle WA), I initiated hundreds of individuals to this paratheatre group work - actors, dancers, martial artists, singers, yoginis, painters, musicians, poets - as a means to expand access and expression of the internal landscape. This work had become its own laboratory for creative and spiritual experimentation, a revelation that informed the name "ParaTheatrical ReSearch" to symbolize our endeavor. However, I never had any ambitions or pretense for emulating or replicating anything "Grotowski" or "Brook" or "Artaud". It has been enough to continue learning from these experiments and their bounty of new errors, corrections and insights.
PRIVACY, WILDERNESS, PERFORMANCE, & FALLOW PERIODS
Most of the ongoing group work in this paratheatre medium has occurred indoors in total privacy (no audits or audience). If and when this private and deeply internal work develops into something worth sharing, where communicable motifs appear, I begin structuring a performance vehicle in collaboration with the participants. Performances are rare; only nine productions since 1978 (see Production History link below). On occasion, I would initiate sojourns to wilderness settings to test group concentration amidst the unfathomable beauty of nature. Advancement in this medium necessitates fallow periods -- usually four to eight weeks between Labs -- where no paratheatre work occurs and when the lingering consequences of this dynamic process can find integration in daily life, where we can discover what we can apply and what was lost to the winds.
ASOCIAL CLIMATE, VALUES, ETHICS & PURPOSE
No established theatre company or paratheatrical tribal entity exists, nor are we a social group or a "cult" (nor am I a "guru"). Due to the asocial climate critical to effective work in this non-performance medium, participants do not socialize in the workspace. In addition to the many who participate in the short-term, a core group of longterm individuals come and go according to the next ritual lab, paratheatrical performance, or film/video project. Though no formal paratheatre dogma exists, the core values of integrity and autonomy define the ethos of this medium. The overall purpose of this work is to provide a safe space for developing individual talents and skills, within an asocial group ritual dynamic, towards increasing access and physical and vocal expression of the internal landscape - a visceral self-discipline for making the unconscious, conscious.
DOCUMENTATION, PUBLIC EVENTS, FILM PRODUCTION
Over three decades of primarily non-performance oriented ritual labs, certain themes and directions have developed and crystallized into public events, lectures, demonstrations, video screenings and performance rituals (also see Production History section below). The techniques, principles, and rituals applied in this work are documented in my workbook, "Towards an Archeology of the Soul" (Vertical Pool Pubishing, 2003), in five video documents (watch video clips here), and an audio CD, Songs as Vehicles (2005; 43 min.) produced as a record of the 2004 Song As Vehicle Lab.
In 1996, my wife the singer/composer Sylvi Alli and I established Vertical Pool Productions in Berkeley CA as a ParaTheatrical ReSearch affiliate to serve our ongoing artistic collaborations with others in video, film, and music production. Since 1999, paratheatrical processes have inspired and informed story and character development of numerous feature-length paratheatre video documents and art films: Crux (1999), Tragos (2000), Under a Shipwrecked Moon (2003), Orphans of Delirium (2004), The Greater Circulation (2005), The Invisible Forest (2008) To Dream of Falling Upwards (2011), Flamingos (2012) and Dreambody/Earthbody (2012).
THE DREAMING RITUAL
In early 2008, I reached a personal crisis around the purpose of this work that I traced back to 1986 during an initiatic encounter with Australian Aborigine (koori) elder Guboo Ted Thomas -- a meeting that overturned my assumptions about the nature of dreams. Throughout 2008 and 2009, over four separate ritual labs, a recalibration of intent occured through the group workings of a "dreaming ritual" I discovered in 1986 - a precise choreography created by combining movements recalled from nocturnal dreams (without regard to interpretation or dream analysis). In 2012, I produced a paratheatre video document, "dreambody/earthbody", demonstrating the prepatory stages and execution of this dreaming ritual in solo and group contexts. The video premiered Nov 15th, 2012 at the ParaTheatrical ReSearch workspace in Berkeley. ("dreambody/earthbody" is now available on dvd.)
THE MUSES ARCHETYPE
This two-year dreaming ritual project unexpectedly laid the groundwork for ritual dialogue with the Muses archetype. In the Spring of 2010, the Muses Lab proved revelatory in how it inspired the scripting and production of my 2011 feature movie, To Dream of Falling Upwards and Sylvi's 2010 music CD, Vessel. On the Winter Solstice 2010, we returned to the Muses theme in the "Ritual Actions of the Muses" Lab to advance our research. This second Muses Lab explored the distilling actions of the creative process that inspired my next feature fiction movie, Flamingos, (2012); click this for Muse Lab notes. On November 7th 2011, we entered the third in this series to explore charged trinities (the Muses Trinity Lab) and then, almost three years later, we met the Muses for the fourth time in the summer of 2014 and for the fifth time the following summer of 2015.
Since the 2005 Song As Vehicle Lab, performance, and Song CD, singer Sylvi Alli's work as an Embodied Voice coach has become a seminal influence in this paratheatre medium. In Spring of 2015, Sylvi and I co-facilitated the Ritual Song Lab, a somatic process of bridging song, movement, and ritual. We applied paratheatre trigger methods as a basis for singing "Pusta Mladost", a Bulgarian folk song allowing its melodic and rhythmic currents to inform movement, gesture, and ritual actions.
2015 ~ REINVENTION in PORTLAND OR; RETURN TO PERFORMANCE
In October of 2015, Sylvi and I relocated to Portland Oregon to reinvent ParaTheatrical ReSearch as a performance vehicle. We started by staging a series of Workshops (Labs) to train dancers, ritualists, actors, performers and non-performers alike in Paratheatre methods in hopes of finding resonant individuals to help develop and perform new works of experimental theatre (incorporating ritual, poetic text, music & song, video) directed by myself with musical direction by Sylvi. These early efforts met with success.
Our first Portland production, "A Turbulence of Muses" a symbolist ritual (poetry by Arthur Rimbaud) came to fruition in the Muses Lab and premiered December 2-4 2016. The "2-Faced Clowns Lab" explored personal and collective hypocrisy as a resource for developing characters in "Bardoville" (poetry 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", was workshopped in the Alchemy Lab and premiered Dec 1-3, 2017 (musical direction by Sylvi Alli; poetry by Hilda Doolittle aka HD); also to critical acclaim. "Fallen Monsters" (poetry by William Blake) was workshopped in the Contract Lab and premiered May 11-13, 2018. Our upcoming performance ritual, "Escape from Chapel Perilous!" (poetry by Sylvia Plath) will be developed over 11 weeks in the Labyrinth Lab with premieres on November 30th, Dec. 1 & 2, 2018. All productions are staged at PerformanceWorks NW, PDX.
Click this to watch video documents of these and other Paratheatre performances
Rather than defining ourselves as a company of fixed players, we are a kind of molting group developing new performance works with whomever might be best suited for the unique challenges and demands of each production. Though a core group of individuals persist with each production, we are open to inquiries from performing artists across the spectrum of theatre, dance, voice, music & song, ritual, clown, vaudeville, poetry. ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX is a non-union, self-funded collective.
-- Antero Alli
Founder/Director, ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX
Click this for Production History
Antero Alli, writer/director/producer (unless otherwise noted)