fools mass in philadelphia

Ever since I was a child, I loved playing Mass. I hated actually sitting and kneeling and standing on cue during Catholic Mass with family, but there was something beautiful and mysterious and eternal about the ritual that called to me. I had no interest in simply watching and following along. I wanted to participate fully.  I longed to be the priest, to be the server, to fling around the censor, and prod people with the collection basket and light candles and consecrate the body and blood of Jesus. (If truth be told,  I wanted to be Jesus, but that’s another story.) Playing mass in the living room with my brothers and sisters and friends and stuffed animals gave me that chance to fully immerse myself in the experience of ritual magic of trans-substantiation. I thought I’d lost this chance forever until last weekend when I attended Fool’s Mass by a group from New York called Dzieci, “an experimental theatre  ensemble dedicated to a search for the ‘sacred’ through the medium of theatre.”

I found Dziezi as I’ve found many of my current passions: through a chance meeting on the Internet. I’d been hunting down practitioners of experimental theatre methods as part of a quest to realize a lifelong dream, not to play mass, but to experience theatre experiments as described in a lifelong favorite film: My Dinner with Andre.  Ever since I saw the film many years ago, I’ve harbored a fantasy in the back of my head to recreate some version of Jerzy Grotowski’s experiments as described by Andre Gregory in the film.  I wanted to gather artists musicians and dancers in the woods  and create experiences based on myth and folklore, religion and ritual.  I dreamed of taking part in multi-modal art happenings not unlike children playing Mass, only with big people, musicians and dancers, and, of course, fools like me who are ready to dive in deep. And while I like to be entertained as much as anybody, what I’ve always wanted ultimately from art is an immersion in deep waters, in life-changing, limit-challenging experiences.

And so  Google sent me to  Dzieci’s website. I was enchanted. It just so happened that Dzieci was performing a Fool’s Mass (as well as Macbet) in Philadelphia, where my son lives.  I bought my tickets, got on a plane and took my son with me to see my favorite Shakespeare play and to play Mass.

The two performances were held in a converted living room theater called PSALM in a grand and leafy residential neighborhood. As we approached the house, we were greeted by an eager kielbasa bearing gypsy, who invited me to take a bite. I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. The cast warmed us up with food and libations, flattery and fortunetelling. The inventive, intensified version of Macbeth was delightful, but it was the interaction with the players who partied with us in artfully sustained character that created the possibility for the kind of  paratheatrical experience I was looking for.

The next morning’s Fool’s Mass took us in even deeper. I didn’t actually get to play the priest or the altar boy, but I did get to revisit my imaginings about art and dance and theatre. The interactive sacrifice of the Mass consecrated by the medieval lunatics chilled me to the marrow. (I can still feel the gaze of one baby-doll-clutching woman. I do believe she looked right into me and saw what I cannot bare to see.)  I never before experienced Mass as honoring the divine feminine, but this Mass certainly did

More than anything, I’m left with more questions.

What if all that I imagine about art, theatre, film, dance didn’t simply entertain and inspire, but were real? What if the ritual was not just for play, not simply for performance for someone else to watch, but for something bigger and deeper and more real than real? What if something more risky were at stake? What happens when players and audience agree to allow themselves to be truly challenged, to be altered by the experience?  What if baby-doll-clutching woman wasn’t just acting and really did see something unbearable in me?  What if  what’s next for me (and a few other fools) is to camp out in the woods and play with a band of misfits to find out?

Introducing the artists

The Sacred Arts Intensive: A week of transformation through the arts in Cleveland, Ohio, June 26 – July 3 2010 The Sacred Arts Intensive is an eight-day immersion offering artists the opportunity to work, to play, to create and conceive new works and practices with other artists.

Are you curious about who else is coming to the Intensive? I’ve invited participants to share about themselves, their work, and their intention for the week. Thanks to Dexter and Heidi for being the first brave souls to respond.

Introducing: Dexter Ico, Toronto

About my past work:
I’d say I’m a guerrilla filmmaker who experiments by mixing genres and playing with the notion of awareness, around media and the self.

What challenges you?
The concept of business and work, as opposed to the concept of purpose and play.

What would you like to explore next, take to the next level?
Vlogs.  I want to say stuff as my self, considering the viewer but without the intention of amusing or educating them.

What projects, or works-in-progress are you working with?
Vlogs.  I’m a work-in-progress.

What excites you about the intensive this summer?
Going to Dayton, never been.  And playing with filmmaking for a week.

My website:
www.dexterico.com

Introducing:  Heidi Madsen

Bio:

In 1996, the birth year of Toe B. (short for big toe), I slid across the stage as Tom Cruise in tighty whities, a striped oxford, tube socks and sunglasses lip-synching to Bob Seeger’s “That Old Time Rock and Roll”. Since then, I’ve been sliding across the stage as a drag king and gender activist to smear the rigid and socially constructed boundaries between sex, gender and sexuality.

Project:
Inspired by my Uncle Christian’s evolutionary journey from Ursuline nun to radical feminist lesbian to FTM transgender person, I celebrate him as a spiritually evolved person who is able to embrace both his femininity and masculinity.  This transformative journey from embodying sisterhood to being Christian is not only an inspiration for those who feel alone in their transgender struggle, but a monumental educational tool for promoting tolerance to the masses. By sheer faith in the message of my controversial parody on organized religion and gender norms, I am determined not to stop at preaching to the choir. From Sister To Mister is a creed to live by promoting mass empowerment

The play From Sister To Mister to debut in a church near you Spring of 2011…

Intent For the Sacred Arts Intensive:
Together, cramped in the confessional of From Sister To Mister with sweaty palms, uneasily shifting between stiff knees we will find ourselves uttering in short breaths things we thought we never would hear ourselves say out loud. We will laugh with familiarity and cry in sympathy at the thought of how we ourselves feel like we are living in the wrong body at times; feeling socially awkward and waking up with an identity hangover not remembering who we were the day before. When we leave the theatre we will see Christian in our selves, our sisters, our brothers, our mothers, our fathers, our sons, our daughters, our friends, our teachers, our nurses, our doctors, our yoga instructors, our therapists and best of all our clergy. Through that lens, we will not tolerate anything but acceptance and strive for nothing less than authenticity.
My hope is that The Sacred Arts Intensive will be an opportunity for me to be cramped in a confessional with other edgy artists. I believe that if the intensive builds a safe and creative enough space, the confessional will foster the colliding of artistic energies to help each of us produce no less than the perfection of work we have been inspired to do. I’ve never given myself this opportunity. I believe there is a universe of untapped energy inside of me waiting to be confessed.

Find out more about The Sacred Arts Intensive at our blog here.

Your Hair, Your Story, Our Art Party

Stories Your Hair Could Tell, an art opening and celebration of your dramatic hair, is coming to Dat Salon Hair Dramatic 442-E Dufferin Street Thursday May 6, 8-11 pm.

Come celebrate the drama of your hair with us.

See paintings inspired by your  stories by Patricia Kambitsch.

Join us for an evening of participatory artmaking including:

storytelling * dancing * music * art making * merry making * dramatic hair

Quietlyquivering spins the tunes. Your hair tells the story.

call for “stories your hair could tell”

If your hair could speak, what stories would it tell?

Tell me your hair’s story, and I will infuse your hair-based drama into a new mixed media painting to be on display starting May 2010 at Dat Salon on Dufferin just north of Queen West in Toronto.

What secrets do your locks reveal? What secrets does your ‘do conceal?  Do you have a dramatic memory from childhood about your hair?  What did your teenage hair tell about your hopes, dreams, desires, your future?  Any story, impression, memory, secret, or fantasy you wish to share about your hair may serve as inspiration for new work.

Stories Your Hair Could Tell will hold its opening event on Thursday, May 6 at Dat Salon.  Event will include storytelling, performance, music, and merry making. More details to come.

You can reach me at patricia at kambitsch dot com or patricia kambitsch on facebook.  And remember, in the words of the gifted stylist, Dat, hair is drama.