Coming to a Laneway Near You: Gypsies Perform Shakespeare, Lunatics Enact Mass

I found them on the internet when I was looking for Grotowski-inspired paratheatre workshops. I hunted them down in Philadelphia so I could partake in their Fool’s Mass. I’m rearranging my life so that I might participate in their 24 hour Maraton paratheatrical workshop in New York.

And now they’re coming to my favorite multidisciplinary arts garden. I’m so excited!  Dzieci is coming to town. They’re borrowing a bus from a correctional facility and Dzieci is coming to Toronto. (Did I tell you? Dzieci is coming to Toronto!)

Here’s some info from our press release, so you don’t miss any facts.

Dzieci, an experimental theatre ensemble from New York City appears at Majlis, 163 Walnut Street, for two special performances: Makbet, a gypsy-style chamber version of the Shakespearean classic, on Saturday, September 18 at 8 pm and their popular classic Fools Mass, Sunday, September 19 at 11 am. $20 advance ( / $25 at the door.

As presented by a traveling family of gypsies, the hour-long performance of Makbet explores (and explodes) the very essence of storytelling. Through a process of oral transmission, each member of the ensemble has learned all of the lines of every part. In rehearsals and in production, the actors do not know who will be playing any given role at any given time. Haunting folk songs and chants from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe weave through the piece, creating the impression of a sacred ceremony. The result: a high-stakes performance that keeps both the ensemble and audience on edge.

In Fools Mass, a group of medieval village idiots are forced to enact their own Mass, due to the untimely death of their beloved pastor. Bursting with buffoonery and comic audience participation, Fools Mass is balanced with lovely hymns and chants from the 8th to the 14th centuries, creating a seminal work that has been Dzieci’s signature piece for over ten years. As the Encyclopedia of Religion describes, “the work resists being categorized as either theater or religion, becoming both at once in an event experienced by many as transformative.” Fools Mass has appeared in venues ranging from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City to the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona.

Dzeici will also offer a paratheatrical workshop for actors and non-actors at Dovercourt House, 805 Dovercourt Road, on Saturday, September 18 from 12 – 3 pm. Dzieci workshops are non-verbal and improvisational experiences, with guidance gently provided by the ensemble through sound and gesture. Employing elements of ensemble theatre, meditation, psychotherapy, and ritual, the event flows in accordance with the nature of the participants and leads towards a heightening of consciousness and deepening of community. Reservations at 416.799.7950, $75-$125 pay what you can.

About Theatre Group Dzieci

Founded by Matt Mitler in 1997, Dzieci (djyeh-chee) uses techniques garnered from Jerzy Grotowski and the Polish Theatre Laboratory, Peter Brook, humanistic psychology, and ritual forms derived from Native American and Eastern spiritual disciplines in its search for the “sacred” through the medium of theatre.

About Majlis Multidisciplinary Arts

Nestled between two factory buildings in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, Majlis Multidisciplinary Arts provides a unique, intimate laneway-garden venue for artistic collaborations throughout the summer.

For tickets for workshop and performances go to