By Theodore Shank (auth.)
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Extra resources for American Alternative Theatre
Megan Terry had been conducting a weekly Open Theatre workshop. the anger ofTerry and the workshop participants toward the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam war resulted in improvisations on the theme of violence. Using a variety of sources dealing with the war - newspapers, eyewitness accounts, letters - as the basis for improvisations, they developed material which was then structured by Megan Terry. The group met every day for the two or three weeks prior to performance when Chaikin helped with some of the staging.
They encouraged the audience to participate in a group embrace wh ich became so popular in Paradise Now, and later in Dionysus in 69 by the Performance Group, that it was given the sarcastic epithet of 'group grope'. One-third of Paradise Now - the 'Action' sections - was not planned but left to the spectators and performers to develop through their own spontaneous actions. In parts of some performances the company functioned more as group therapists or recreation leaders than as traditional actors.
Another performer holds a piece of plywood upright, rocking it trom side to side making a rhythmic knocking sound. 'The Dying Imagine Their Judgment' is the concIuding section. The judge, using a megaphone, reads the judgements as the other performers act out appropriate images. The judgment of your life is your life. You will finally possess the thing you wanted most in life - and eternity will be that thing and that thing only. 43 American Alternative Theatre You neither faced your death nor participated in your life, but straddled the line between one place and the other, longing for both.