In 1977, Antero discovered the Paratheatre of Jerzy Grotowski ("Akropolis" and "Towards a Poor Theatre") inspiring him to develop his own paratheatre medium -- as documented in his two books, "Towards an Archeology of the Soul" (Vertical Pool, 2003) and "State of Emergence: Experiments in Group Ritual Dynamics" (Original Falcon Press, 2020), in numerous video documents (1991-2020), and by Nicoletta Isar, Professor at the Institute of Art History, Copenhagen University. Between 1977 and 2018, Antero wrote, directed, and performed in numerous experimental theatre productions. Between 2003 and 2015, Antero wrote and directed twelve feature-length art films -- including "The Greater Circulation", a critically acclaimed cinematic treatment of poet Rainer Maria Rilke's "Requiem for a Friend" and "The Invisible Forest", a tribute to French Surrealist, Antonin Artaud. During this filmmaking era, his group paratheatre work went underground for ten years in a continual series of private, non-performance oriented ritual labs. In 2015, he took a five year break from filmmaking to stage five original intermedia performance rituals in Portland Oregon where he now resides with his wife. Sylvi. In 2020, he returned to making films with the Spring 2020 premiere of "The Vanishing Field".
EARLY TRAINING, EXPERIENCE, & INSPIRATION
My earliest theatrical training (1970/71) was in Mime Theatre with 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 theatre while writing and directing five experimental theatre plays (see Production History at bottom page). In 1976/77, I participated in a series of group ritual experiments directed by artist/composer David Rosenbloom inspired by the documentary film Akropolis featuring Jerzy Grotowski's early Laboratory Theatre and his book, Towards a Poor Theater. These early influences initiated my life's work in Paratheatre.
THE GENESIS OF A NEW 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 forty years and three cities (Berkeley CA, Boulder CO, Seattle WA, Portland OR), I initiated hundreds of individuals to this paratheatre group work - actors, dancers, martial artists, singers, yoginis, painters, musicians, poets as a kind of laboratory for creative and spiritual experimentation. However, I never had any ambitions or pretense for emulating or replicating "Grotowski"'s legacy of work. 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). When this private and deeply internal work developed into something worth sharing, where communicable motifs appear, I began structuring a performance vehicle in collaboration with the participants. Between the years of 1978 and 2015, public performances have been rare (see Production History). On occasion, sojourns to wilderness settings were introduced to test concentration amidst the unfathomable beauty of nature. Advancement in this medium necessitates fallow periods -- usually four to eight weeks between Labs -- where
ASOCIAL CLIMATE, VALUES, ETHICS & PURPOSE
Due to the asocial climate critical to effective work in this medium, participants refrain from socializing right before and during the group work process. In addition to many who have participated 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 or doctrine exists, the core values of integrity and autonomy define the central ethos of this work process. The overall purpose of this paratheatrical process is to provide a safe space for developing individual talents and skills for increasing access and physical and vocal expression of the internal landscape -- a visceral, somatic version of Jung's "active imagination", for making the unconscious, conscious.
DOCUMENTATION, PUBLIC EVENTS, FILM PRODUCTION
Over four 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 (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 Publishing, 2003), and in numerous video documents. An audio CD, Songs as Vehicles (2005; 43 min.) was produced during the 2004 Song As Vehicle Lab.
In 1996, my wife Sylvi Alli and I established Vertical Pool in Berkeley CA as a ParaTheatrical ReSearch affiliate to serve our ongoing artistic collaborations with others in video, film, and music production. Since 2000, paratheatrical processes have inspired and informed story and character development in six feature-length art films: Tragos (2000), Under a Shipwrecked Moon (2003), The Greater Circulation (2005), The Invisible Forest (2008) To Dream of Falling Upwards (2011), Flamingos (2012) and "Out of the Woods" (2015).
THE DREAMING RITUAL
In early 2008, I reached a personal crisis around the purpose of this paratheatre work, a crisis 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 ritual choreography combining movements recalled from nocturnal dreams (without regard to dream analysis). In 2012, a paratheatre video document, "dreambody/earthbody", demonstrates the prepatory stages and execution of this dreaming ritual in solo and group contexts. This "dreaming ritual" video can be watched by clicking this.
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 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 inspired the creation of 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, for the fifth time the following summer of 2015 and the sixth time in the summer of 2019.
Since 2005, the Song As Vehicle Lab, performance, and Song CD, singer Sylvi Alli's work as an Embodied Voice coach had 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. Sylvi and I have co-faciliated Paratheatre Labs ever since.
2015-2019, PORTLAND OR; PERFORMANCE
In October of 2015, Sylvi and I relocated to Portland Oregon to reinvent ParaTheatrical ReSearch as a public 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 an intermedia ritual-based theatre (incorporating poetic text, music & song, video) directed by myself with musical direction by Sylvi. These early efforts were fruitful and 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 fifth intermedia performance work, "Escape from Chapel Perilous!" (featuring the poetry of Sylvia Plath as Chapel sermons) developed over 11 weeks in the Labyrinth Lab and premiered November 29th, 30th, Dec. 1 & 2, 2018. These past five productions were all staged at PerformanceWorks Northwest, Portland.
"Escape from Chapel Perilous" (performance Dec. 2018 in Portland)
END OF AN ERA
After the Autumn Equinox 2019 Paratheatre intensive , I chose to suspend all ParaTheatrical ReSearch productions, workshops, and ritual labs, until further notice - marking the end of a 42-year era of group work. It was time to rethink my relationship with the Paratheatrical. Between March and September 2020 - during the Covid era - I updated and distilled the last seventeen years of this work into a new book, "STATE OF EMERGENCE: Experiments in Group Ritual Dynamics" (2020; 180 pages; The Original Falcon Press). I plan to continue my ongoing musical collaborations with Sylvi while courting the Muses of Cinema and remaining open to new paratheatrical productions in the future. All our upcoming projects will be listed at Vertical Pool; visit us there. Video documents of ParaTheatrical ReSearch performances and labs produced since 1991 are posted here.
13 November 2020
Click this for Production History
Antero Alli, writer/director/producer (unless otherwise noted)