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CRUX - A Paratheatrical Experiment


A Video Document by Antero Alli

Crux is a unique documentary, a fascinating look into one of Antero Alli's paratheatrical research ritual labs (see article p. 16). Throughout fifteen rituals over five weeks, Antero and seven adventurous participants engage in a group ritual exploration of the crucifixion archetype. The ritual technology itself is non-dogmatic, based on technology developed by Antero and described in his book, All Rites Reversed. In this case, "crux" as a concept is a symbol for what each participant is living for, and "crucifixion" is a state of being that each individual must confront. At the outset of the video, Antero asserts that we are all crucified in some way to the cross of our existence - "a harsh perspective," he admits, but from that foundation, the group moves toward a rare and powerful form of catharsis.

To start, the participants assign themselves characters: Surch, Edgewise, Scatter, Mole, Slippery, Cage, and Proof. These characters seem to be archetypal expressions of the people playing them; the lab participants are not actors, but use method acting techniques to explore the "characters" of themselves. The rituals take place in simple black box theatre spaces, with standard black theatre boxes making a "cross" in a pool of light at the center of the space. The individuals come from diverse backgrounds: Surch is an anthropology student from Norway, Edgewise is a native of Scotland recently relocated to America, Slippery is an aikido instructor, Scatter is a musician, etc. They come together to explore a space that, for the duration of the ritual, becomes a sacred space, where a terrifying kind of freedom exists to explore and confront aspects of the self, and in doing so, encounter new truths about their lives.

"Crux," we are told, is a mountaineering term for the most difficult passage on the way to the top of a mountain. When faced with the crux, you can either turn back and return to base camp, successfully navigate the crux and ascend to the top of the mountain, or become trapped within the crux. In some way, each character in the Crux rituals faces the same dilemma as they move through this ritual space. For Edgewise, the crux is "trying too hard to be something, chasing the edge of existence." For Cage, the crux is seeing "too much truth in too short a time" and finding herself pushed to the limits of "the surreal nature that reality has taken." For Slippery, the crux is being "nailed to the trickster thing." For Proof, the crux is "looking for the theorem that will explain me to myself and the world."

We are given tantalizing glimpses into the results this ritual exploration has on each participant: shots of insane, uncontrollable laughter; screaming, wailing, and writhing; wild movement and energy that seems to possess them at times. The video is narrated by Antero and the participants themselves, partially in interviews, partially in voiceovers taken from the participants' lab journals, and we see just enough of the rituals to know that something powerful is at work, without ever quite seeing the techniques that got these people to such rare spaces. Unlike Antero's earlier video on the subject, Archaic Community, this video is more concerned with the stories of the characters, and less interested in demonstrating techniques that are already shown and described elsewhere in Antero's body of work. The pace is slow and dreamlike, allowing the viewer to drift in and out of direct connection with these people and their journeys. Ultimately we're asked quite directly: What are you living for? Where and how are you crucified? For those who regularly ask themselves these or similar questions, Crux is a remarkable look at one more set of possibilities, one more set of tools to apply to the ongoing process of self-awareness.

Tags : psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2001-03-05 00:00:00