Orphans of Delirium

Alaska Yamada and Paradox Pollack

program notes

Once upon a time in the village of Delirium six orphans banded together
in search of their true origins. As the village slept, the orphans found their way
to the dark wood surrounding Delirium where a mysterious cloud of unknowing
enveloped them all in a formless cloak of dreaming.

That was something I wrote two months ago containing the seed ideas for this performance event. The group ritual work presented here rarely occurs before an audience; their effects are meant to act on participants only. To bridge the ritual to theatre gap, four rituals were framed by a dramatic narrative device involving three stories of loss told by an actor on an absinthe binge. In addition, S.T. Coleridge’s 1798 poem, Kubla Khan, was randomly meshed into the rituals and in other isolated, more intentional instances.

Stereotypes of “ritual” -- pomp, rote actions, formality -- were left behind early on in our experiments and replaced with a more fluid, metamorphic approach. We are after something alive. With the exception of the repetitive motions in the second ritual (which were recalled from the participants’ actual dreams) none of the rituals are staged or improvised. Something else is happening here.

These paratheatrical rituals unfold in their own cycles through sometimes gentle, sometimes violent eruptions, nudging and jolting participants to gesture, action, sound, interaction. These eruptions emanate from the body’s own responses to the charging, or triggering, of energy sources innate to itself, sources we are working to serve, embody and surrender to before your very eyes. The results are unpredictable and run the physical/emotional gauntlet. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Just when we think nothing is happening, nothing might actually be happening and then: boom shriek sigh, another eruption...

Our intent is not to entertain or educate but to fascinate, to fasten attention to an ever-changing terrain of the human condition. Our aim is to perform these rituals with enough commitment to incite our most visceral and spiritual resonances and the faith that some of this may reach you, if not in ways immediately understandable then intuited through the space connecting us all.

Antero Alli director
10 March 2004

(background) Adam and Justin Palermo.
(foreground) Brian Livingston

A note to the curious. Absinthe is a very high alcohol compound distilled with wormwood (now illegal in most countries). During the 18th and 19th centuries, absinthe was all the rage with poets and artists for its vision- inducing stupors. Absinthe was never literally used by us beyond its theatrical value as a catalyst to the three stories and we certainly would never condone its use to anyone.