"Experiments in Compassion"


11/22/05. LAB UPDATE. What began and persisted as a ritual intent of exposing and performing our personal hypocrisies as "clown characterizations" has gone as far as it could go and will not culminate in a clown performance afterall. Those paratheatre processes we have engaged did indeed expose our personal hypocrisies as well as those holding our society's reality structures together. In response there has emerged a new undercurrent of healing these open wounds, rather than trounce about and parade them for all to see. And so we are tending to a certain transformation now as this lab progresses into its final tri-mester through Winter Solstice when there may, or may not, be a public demonstration of the ritual work we have been doing.


11/25/05. From the very start of this lab, at the 9/11 pre-lab orientation gathering, I brought up the necessity for the group to learn how to increase their self-compassion during our journey through the difficult psychological terrain of exposing our two-faced egos and their hypocritical behaviors as a resource for developing clown characters. Everybody agreed that this was a good idea and we all agreed to give it our best shot.

During the first trimester (9/18 - 10/17) of this 3-month lab, this group demonstrated a robust self-expression around the characterizations of personal hypocrisies in duets and trios of clown-like performances. During this period, I saw how invigorated we were by the shock of freedom afforded by exposing these hidden aspects of ourselves, and shamelessly and hilariously assaulting each other with our exaggerated antics of animated self-importance.

This freedom was catalyzed by an exploration and sanctification of "true" and "false" selves as equal in value, blurring their borders and allowing for a more flexible ego in the process. Also, I had introduced characters to each participant based in my intuitive impressions of what was already developing in their presentations, characters that proved (for the most part) engaging to all and which helped clarify our relationships. All in all, the first month's work saw an accelerated and exciting process of opening ourselves to ourselves and each other.

The first two weeks of the second trimester (10/23 - 11/6) saw various manifestations of withdrawal, from a scattering of absent participants to a lull in the sharing of stories and observations during each session's final group circles. During this time, I perceived in the group energy a kind of muting, or diminishing quality, as if the previously dynamic "opening" phase either frightened us or forced us inward to process what had been exposed and displayed so flagrantly. I also began to wonder if the group as a whole was having trouble raising their level of self-compassion during this critical integration stage. The increasing absenteeism was not helping the group morale and we were also rapidly outgrowing the characters I had selected for us. Something was happening; I just couldn't tell what it was.

During the final two weeks of the second trimester (11/7 - 11/20) the group had eventually lost its way. We were clearly flailing without direction. I soon realized that we were severed from the original ritual intent of "exposing and performing our personal hypocrisies". I could see no purpose to what we were doing and told the group about this. These two weeks were difficult for me, as I really wanted to perform yet I realized that we were facing specific limitations forbidding it, limitations that I had to respect; moving into any performance of paratheatre work "just to perform" would never hold together. We needed another intent.

During the first night of the third trimester (11/21), the ritual intent of "exposing and performing our personal hypocrisies" had officially dissolved and a new intent was born in its wake, a spiritual intent of healing and returning to deeper immersions in transpersonal sources, such as "dreambody" and "earth surrender" (as opposed to the more personal attributes of our individual ego structures). This new direction went over swimmingly with the group; like diverse species of savannah beasts silently drinking from the same watering holes, a new depth and calm enveloped the group. It will be interesting to find out how this non-performance oriented intent will develop and whether or not it turns into any kind of public performance direction.


12/6/05. At this point two participants, Linda Rose and Matthew Purdon, have withdrawn for reasons of their own leaving the remaining nine as the consolidated core of this post-clown lab. In addition, I have invited Paradox Pollack back into this experiment after the group unanimously agreed; Dox withdrew after the second lab session to work with me on his solo performance project, which has been postponed until next summer. Since these changes, the lab direction has taken on a decidedly deeper and, dare I say, a spiritual tone insofar as the specific sources we have been accessing, expressing and embodying each night.

These have included Masculine/Feminine and their dynamic merging, as well as, what I call "Deity Approaches" where each of us designates the opposite side of the space to the presence of Higher Self, Holy Guardian Angel or Divinity. Pick and choose. Each approach to this presence is as important as the entrance into it insofar as it communicates an honest relationship with that presence. We approach and enter this presence three times: once to find out what it is, the second pass with a question and the third time with an offering of some kind.

The results of these rituals have effectively renewed the group unity around an intent of receptivity to vertical source work, rather than the original intent of accessing and embodying our more "horizontal" ego structures for the purpose of public performance. With every night we are moving deeper into verticality and further away from the more horizontal audience-based intentions. The rituals developing from the end of this lab also seem to be foreshadowing the upcoming Spring 2006 Alchemy lab, which feels like a good sign.

The group circles that convene at the end of each night's lab session have become more telling of the deepening group unity. We have all been participating by sharing stories and charged ritual moments with the group. This in itself is extraordinary because usually after these rituals participants are real quiet, silently processing their experiences, not wanting to verbalize anything almost out of some primitive shyness that their hot, holy states will vanish if they open their mouthes and talk.

I reminded the group that it was important for the left-brain languaging processes to catch up with their right-brain intuitive impressions and that the group circle was an opportunity to hone those skills. You don't have to explain or try and explain something to talk about it. If you just confess what happened and leave it at that, nothing sacred disappears. Who knows? You may have even developed new codes and speech patterns for more truthfully reflecting the mysteries experienced. I also announced my absence for the next lab session where Nick Walker will take over time-keeping responsibilities and act as the group's third eye for that one night. This lab continues for six more sessions; on the 17th we decide whether or not to invite witnesses in for our final night, Monday December 19th. The unknown beckons...


12/13/05. After what could have been the two most powerful paratheatre sessions of this 3-month lab, the group has unanimously decided against presenting any public presentation of the work we have been developing. The work we are now doing feels too valuable, too naked, too deep to share with those who would arrive to watch, judge or try and figure out what was happening. It is difficult to explain but I do understand not sharing what is too valuable. Perhaps for fear of ruining or corrupting it or frightening it away, like tourists trying to feed wild deer.

Monday night's closing group circie lasted 90 minutes (the longest group circle I can remember) due to the spontaneous emergence of everybody's stories, charged moments and revelations after the awesome Cycle of Reincarnations ritual (exploring the No-Form, Birth Living, Death, Afterlife continuum and constellations of vertical and ancestral sources).

Since the lab intent shifted around 11/22, the quality of each session's work has significantly deepened in the authenticity of self-expression and vertically-aligned interactions. Every session's results keep getting deeper and more intense than the last and I expect our final three sessions to be no exception. If so, this will probably be my final journal entry as most of what I experienced over just the last two nights have been impossible to put into words to effectively convey what transpired, not just with me but with this group as a whole and with each individual. With that said, I feel proud to have been part of this experiment with such courageous and talented individuals as these. It's been quite the journey, one that I think none of us will forget anytime soon.


12/19/05. Postscript. Saturday 12/17, we reinstated the Deity Approaches ritual with good effect that achieved a deepening of group unity. Sunday 12/18, we worked with personal trinities that activated new source relations for us all and provided foundation for extensive immersion in the Creator-Destroyer-Nourisher Temple ritual. This was also Paradox's final lab session; he was picked up afterwards by his ride to Portland for a winter solstice performance there. Tonight, the remaining eight enter the Temple of the Ancestors. We will all bring to the final session those elements for creating our own individual altars to our ancestral legacy. These altars will border the entire space with a central collective area designated to No-Form.


12/20/05. And so, this lab has finally culminated in a restoration of a sense of belonging in the mystical realms of past, present and future ancestral presences infusing the altar-laced ritual space. The results of tonight's rituals were simultaneously sobering and liberating, leaving us all in a state of dynamic calm. We laughed, we cried, we sighed and said good-bye. It was a good night.

-Antero Alli




OTHER LAB REPORTS (since 1999)

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