Experimental Theatre
"Towards Visceral Embodiment of the Poetic Imagination"
© 2016-2018

"Gifted actors find by instinct how to tap and radiate certain powers;
but they would be astonished if it were revealed that these powers,
which have their material trajectory by and in the organs, actually exist,
for they never realized that these sources of energy actually exist in
their own bodies, in their organs.
- Antonin Artaud

from "Soror Mystica" (performance; December 2017, Portland OR)

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.Though an artistic production or music recital may be called "experimental", with no experiment taking place, it's not experimental to me.

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 discusses Grotowski's "paratheatre"). Over the next four decades, I trained hundreds of actors, dancers, singers, and non-performers alike in Paratheatre methods I developed towards increasing access to the internal landscape and their embodied expression in movement, gesture, presence, sound, and characterizations. Between 1977 and 2015, most of this paratheatrical group work commenced without an audience in private non-performance settings; only a dozen paratheatrical performance works were produced during this era.


FILMS: "The Invisible Forest" (2008) and "The Greater Circulation" (2005)

Between 1995 and 2015 (while continuing paratheatre group work), I immersed myself in nonstop film production completing eleven feature-length art films; my wife Sylvi composed most of their soundtracks. Though the stories and characters changed with each of feature film, the experiment remained the same: insurrection of the Poetic Imagination. I wasn't interested in creating a cinema of ideas or politics or moral or social issues but providing audiences with new ways of seeing as a stimulus to the imaginal faculties.

It's now clear to me how a healthy, active imagination nurtures that ineffable presence we call 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. Oversaturaton with images we did not create ourselves acts as a force of oppression to our own imaginations and creates its own kind of confusion in the mind between simulation and actual experience. In the current hyper media era, the faculty of imagination acts as the canary in the coal mine. Imagination death precedes death of soul!


"A Turbulence of Muses" (performance; December 2016, Portland)

After twenty years of 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 presented a series of Paratheatre training Labs throughout 2016 in the hopes of finding others to work with. A core group of five or six eventually magnetized around a vision of intermedia ritual-based theatre.

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 Performance 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), 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

"Bardoville" (performance; May 2017, Portland)

Ritual Into Theatre. Each ritual-based theatre work is preceded by a 10-week workshop (Lab) to discover the internal sources and ritual designs innate to our next production. We are an intermedia physical theatre company combining spontaneous ritual dynamics, vocal incantations, improvised and composed music & songs, film, and spoken poetry to explore the metaphysical dimensions of human experience. We don't do social or political or morality issues, nor do we perform conventional stage plays. We aim to arouse visceral and spiritual resonances in the audience as a direct stimulus to the Poetic Imagination.

We are 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 throughout each work, we remain open to inquiries from others across the performance spectrum - theatre, dance, voice, music, clown, martial arts, vaudeville - who find resonance with our vision. Those invited to join us are also sometimes asked to undergo Paratheatre training to learn the fundamentals of our unique somatic language.

ParaTheatrical ReSearch PDX
Antero Alli, Artistic Director
Sylvi Alli, Musical Director
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