We asked Antero Alli a few questions about his latest experimental documentary video “dreambody/earthbody,” which premieres in SF at ATA on January 25. Antero will be available for Q&A after the screening.
What is ParaTheatrical ReSearch? When did you become interested in paratheatrical processes?
The term “paratheatre” was coined in the 1970’s by the late Polish theatre director, Jerzy Grotowski, to address a highly dynamic, visceral approach to performance that erased traditional divisions between spectators and performers. Paratheatre was also executed outdoors in the forests of Poland as non-performance events.
ParaTheatrical ReSearch is what I call the asocial group ritual dynamics I have been developing since 1977. Initially inspired by Grotowski’s paratheatrical experiments, I have worked with many groups over thirty-five years to develop my own paratheatre medium incorporating techniques of Zazen meditation, physical theatre, dance, and vocal creations towards accessing and expressing the internal landscape of autonomous forces in the body itself. To me, the physical body “embodies” the Subconscious mind. People can read more about ParaTheatrical ReSearch at www.paratheatrical.com
What is the goal of the dreaming ritual?
I discovered this dreaming ritual in 1986 by piecing together movements I recalled from my nocturnal dreams into a dream choreography that, when performed, triggered the forces, images, visions, and emotions innate to the dreams they originated from. The following year, I met Aborigine elder Guboo Ted Thomas who initiated me to a new way of seeing the Earth itself as this vast dreaming entity incarnating as a planet. His aboriginal vision of the Daytime/Dreamtime continuum brought new depth to my little dreaming ritual. You ask about the goal of this dreaming ritual. The goal may differ for each person but the overall effect of doing it tends to expose the links and overlays between our daytime and dreamtime realities. It amplifies a unifying influence in our consciousness which I feel is needed in today’s hypermedia fragmented world. You can read more about this dreaming ritual at www.paratheatrical.com/dreamingrites.html
What was the biggest challenge during the production?
The biggest production challenge for me personally was shooting all the action on the fly with no rehearsals or second takes. As the group underwent this paratheatre process, I had to think on my feet and shoot whatever I could using one camera (Canon XL-2 mini-dv). This was a group of seven previously trained in paratheatre methods who agreed to meet with me one night a week for seven weeks. The challenge for them was to do this work with someone watching and photographing them under bright lights. This paratheatre work is usually done in dim light or candlelight with nobody watching.
Do you hope your film encourages people to think about their own dreams differently? if so, how?
I hope my experimental documentary inspires people to rethink their dreams in a less interpretive way and more like a rich resource for images, stories, emotions, and raw material for their creative and artistic processes. I am aligned with the Surrealists of the 1920’s who avoided dream analysis in favor of tapping into the personal and collective Unconscious as a wellspring of creativity, shock, and awe..
What did you personally learn from making this film?
Every film project is like going to a new film school for me. I learned many things doing this project, like how it’s almost impossible to show the inner workings of this paratheatrical process in video or film. However, it was well worth doing since certain visceral and spiritual resonances experienced and expressed by the dreaming ritualists can be felt and sensed by the viewing audience. Even though we may not understand something intellectually, I see value in witnessing and resonating with experiences we do not yet understand. Technically, I learned how to shoot by my wits more and improvise with the given material with much better results than I’ve had before. I learned how to make a documentary that also feels like a dream.
You have been showing your work at ATA on a more or less regular basis. Why do you choose ATA as a film house for your films?
I have been showing my work here at A.T.A. since 1992 with the S.F. premiere of my first paratheatre video document, “Archaic Community”. I’m an underground filmmaker and A.T.A. is an underground venue and so, it’s been a good fit so far. There are other S.F. Bay area venues I show my work but I seem to always return to A.T.A. I like the unpretentious D.I.Y. spirit and laidback atmosphere here and the friendly down-to-earth people that run it.