by Antero Alli, director
I was first introduced to the literary work of French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) during my twenties and like many others, I was immediately stunned by its sheer originality and creative genius. What's no less astonishing is how Rimbaud wrote all his poetry between the ages of fifteen and nineteen and then, walked away from writing poetry to travel - until his death at 37 years young. What I loved most about Rimbaud's poetry was how it got me high while reading it out loud (all great poems must be read out loud). At the time, I never considered pursuing theatrical or cinematic treatment for his poems - impossible! - but now, almost four decades later, I was drawn once more to Rimbaud's inspired delirium.During his four-year era of writing poetry, Rimbaud also wrote about his creative process as a "systematic disorganization of all the senses" to induce trances, visions, and other inspired states the Muses found appealing; not "his" Muses but the Muses. It's clear to me that Rimbaud traversed the spirit realms and from those rarified stratospheres, brought back rare gems, hyper-aromatic flowers, astral silence…
For Helen, in the virgin shadows and the impassive
radiance in astral silence, ornamental saps conspired.
Summer's ardor was confided to silent birds and due
indolence to a priceless mourning boat through gulfs
of dead loves and fallen perfumes.
A SYMBOLIST RITUAL...
Rather than trying to push Rimbaud's ephemeral spirit through the keyholes of theatre or cinema, I chose to compose a symbolist ritual as the vehicle for this experiment. In this ritual, eight performers represent diverse interactive aspects of the poet Rimbaud (click this for the 8 cast/players list) in a fluid yet ritualistric embodiment of Rimbaud's poetics through the systematic derangement of all the senses. The scripting of these ritual designs were inspired over seven weeks while I was immersed in the Paratheatre Muses Lab in Portland (Summer 2016). Over the following ten Sunday nights, the cast and I worked to hone the script down to its most essential structure to best serve the sources innate to the seven rituals of this production: dreambody/earthbody polarity, the Four Elements, Nervous/Muscular/Skeletal systems, Dream into Form, and No-Form.
Sylvi Alli (front); Brandt Stickely, Hank Peterson, Memorie Eden, (back)
Some of the choreography performed by Rimbaud the Dream Ego (Sylvi Alli) and the three Dreamers (Brandt Stickely, Hank Peterson, Memorie Eden) developed from movements the performers recalled from their own nocturnal dreams. When combined in sets of three or more, these movements formed a kind of dreaming ritual (documented in "dreambody/earthbody" a 2012 paratheatre video; click this to watch a clip). Since paratheatre methods also trigger high levels of uncertainty, I knew each of the three performances (December 2, 3, & 4, 2016) would differ in form and duration -- rendering palpable the X-factor I believe Rimbaud himself may've appreciated. I paced the rehearsal process to never reach completion until opening night, where the grand ritual miraculously blossomed. Though this Paratheatre video document can never replicate the vitality and mystery of the live performances, I believe it honors and celebrates Rimbaud's playful anarchic spirit.
The Ukelin amplifed
The musical instrument heard during the performance is a ukelin,,a bowed psaltery with zither strings made popular in the 1920s. Meant to be a combination of the violin and the Hawaiian ukulele, it lost popularity in the 1970's as it was allegedly too difficult to play. Throughout each of the three performances, I improvised all the sounds, tones, melodies and percussive effects on a ukelin using a violin bow and a pair of small mallets -- miked through a mixer and treated with reverb. My objective was to provide accents to the unfolding visceral and emotional states embodied and expressed by the performers. Along with the accordion improvisations and her two songs, Sylvi's spontaneous vocal creations also significantly increased the range of textures in the soundscape as the various internal sources she was serving found expression (amplified by wireless mic).
- Antero Alli, director
To the "Turbulence" Production Page
includes video document of the performance