Welcome to Optative Theatrical Laboratories! (http://otl.20m.com/) (appears to be down)
We are only PLAYING!
What is OTL?
OTL is an experimental theatrical laboratory. We are a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the postmodern age. Our aim is to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century. We believe culture jamming through performance can be to our era what civil rights was to the '60s, what feminism was to the '70s, what environmental activism was to the '80s. It will alter the way we live and think. It will change the way information flows, the way institutions wield power, the way TV stations are run, the way industries and governments set their agendas. Above all, it will change the way meaning is produced in our society. We are bold, reckless, improvisatory, free-thinking, and steeped in Otherness. Our goal is to facilitate the betterment of society through PLAYING. We want both to retool the standard practices and perceptions in the theatre world, and encourage everyone to live in action. Theatre artists especially can be challenged here to reject rigid norms in place, and to free themselves up for pure performance. We attempt to PLAY the provocateur to challenge any rules or norms that restrict or oppress us, and to free up the theatre for pure performance. We want socialist globalization, the UN mandate to become a reality for all human beings. We want people to take control of their lives and to cut the strings of any puppetmasters who might control them. Ultimately, we want peaceful global revolution, and believe the best way to accomplish this is through PLAYING and convincing others to PLAY. We facilitate theatrical experiments, which can be on the stage, on the streets, on the Internet, or in any other venue we like. Our experiments are theatrical attempts to challenge ourselves and others to PLAY, and to review our perceptions of ourselves and society.
What is PLAY?
To play is to listen to the inner force that wants to take form and rejoice spontaneously, mindlessly, enthusiastically.
It needs no reason, no planning, no effortit is the joyful, spontaneous expression of ones self. Play is innocent, like our first experience of it before the games and the rules when we were toddlers before the conditions and the trophies arrived when we just went 'Hooooooopppppppppppaaaaaaa!!!!!!!' not knowing where we were going without manipulation, without premeditation without expectations through the path of least resistance when we could full heartedly trust the universe no fears, no reluctance. There is such freedom there .... - Vincent Kamberk
What is a PROVOCATEUR?
A provocateur is someone who provokes reaction in others through unconventional behaviour/performance and fantastic expression. Willing to say what others would be shot for saying, they are Picaros, confidence men, satirists, entartistes, double agents, imposters, charlatans, jokers, ringmasters, jesters, fools, actors, tricksters, and players.
How does one PLAY the PROVOCATEUR?
When PLAYING the PROVOCATEUR, you can play any role at any time, including yourself in masquerade (a different version of yourself). Clear boundaries and strategies are very important; by using the provocateur exercises (such as the optative glasses) we hope to make it understood that we are only PLAYING.
It is important to make others understand that we are only PLAYING the provocateur. BEING a provocateur leads to negative consequences such becoming exhausted, ignored, exiled, or destroyed. By making others aware that we are only PLAYING, we must trust that they will believe us. We become vulnerable to them, and hope that they will PLAY the provoked, and challenge their own perceptions instead of trying to dismiss us.
Who can PLAY?
Anyone can PLAY.
Who should PLAY?
YOU should PLAY, especially if you want to have a lot of fun, want to challenge anything that oppresses you and others in society, want to make the world a more socialist place, and want to reclaim your life for yourself.
History of OTL
OTL was invented in Canada in January 2000, at the University of Calgary, Alberta. Donovan King and Peter Pelletier theorized that a radically different approach to theatre was needed for socialist engagement with the challenges of the 21st Century. A "theatre" designed to challenge "participants, spectators, and society," by playing the provocateur and the provoked, it sought to break down all the rules of the theatre.
The first project was entitled: Miss Julie: a theatrical experiment into the psychosis of august strindberg. Collaboratively using postmodernist and feminist theory to deconstruct Strindberg's play, the project was extremely challenging for all participants and spectators, but was labelled as an "unmitigated disaster" by the Department of Drama. It did not fit the norms of theatre at all. Participants and spectators were upset and scandalized, witch-hunts were launched to find out who was to blame, and professors hastily dismissed it and wanted it gone. OTL was quickly packed up into a box, sealed shut, and was shipped from Calgary to Florida where it sat in a dark garage for many months. During this time OTL niggled in the minds of many people, causing sleepless nights, disturbing insights, and deep reflection.
The box that contained OTL was soon shipped to Montreal, Quebec, where it was opened in the February 2001, unleashing the "Optative Theatre! Theory," and with it a pair of thought-provoking theatrical experiments. "Dating Contest" involved a theatrical competition of two couples to the opening night of a controversial play. CAR STORIES assembled 4 cars and 4 stories for the Montreal Fringe Festival, and invited everyone to play in the event. The physical parking lot of CAR STORIES was shut down by the festival after a critic was criticized and then abused a conflict-of-interest sponsorship. A semi-fictional Internet version of the meta-theatre surrounding the scandal played in another critic's chatroom, and on the streets Invisible and agit-prop theatre took place. Again, people were upset, confused, confounded, and angry. People cried and cursed and complained. They were challenged to the limits, and many didn't like it one bit. The Global Invisible Theatre was then born as a technique to play the provocateur on the Internet. OTL was again packed up and went simultaneously both to Europe and to Manitoba, while in Montreal it lingered on for some like a horrible nightmare, for others like the memory of a lingering kiss.
In Elsinore, Denmark the "FJOLS!" experiment lured Elvarket festival-goers into painting false-moustaches onto their faces, convincing them that PLAYING is "normal" and BEING is "foolish." In Manitoba, native people learned the optative techniques and the provocateur exercises. On the streets of Berlin, at the Galway Arts Festival, and in London, England, people were PLAYING.
OTL is now playing in many places, as the Internet has provided instruction and advice for those who really want to PLAY. The next physical project is THE LONESOME WEST, and already the meta-theatre is being played in Calgary, Montreal, Ireland, and in many other places.
With more players joining all the time, the future looks bright for OTL, and the possibility of a future where mastery is replaced by fellowship gets closer every day.
How can you PLAY?
Read the step-by-step guide of HOW TO PLAY THE PROVOCATEUR. Go only as far as you are comfortable with, and remember that you don't have to PLAY all the time; only when you want, such as when doing a theatrical experiment.
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