In Dzieci’s living example of Holy Theatre, 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 since 1998.
“Moving between the sublime and the ridiculous, drawing its audience through laughter toward participation and contemplation,
the work resists being categorized as either theater or religion, becoming both at once
in an event experienced by many as transformative.”
– The Encyclopedia of Religion 2nd Edition –
“I am left burst wide open from the experience of the Fools Mass.
Raw, grateful, and breathless from the inbursting of the Holy barely covers it.”
– Brother Karekin Madteos Yarian, BSG –
“Fools Mass is such a rich exploration of human nature and our spiritual search.
There is the constant flow between control and chaos, aloneness and togetherness, creation
and destruction, the absurdly mundane and transcendent simplicity. The search for true contact
without an intermediary leads us into a true spiritual connection within and between one another.
It’s a rich experience worthy of multiple viewings.”
~ Matthew Purdon ~
“I can’t even begin to summarize what it is that they do; except to say, it is unforgettable,
deeply moving and will give you a new lens on the Eucharist and all of worship.”
– Rev. Cheri Kroon, Flatbush Reformed Church –
“We’re still buzzing from your performance at St. John the Divine. We were at the cathedral for my annual pilgrimage
to my favorite sacred space in NYC and were beckoned to the corner of the church by some interesting and strange voices.
We had no idea that we were about to enter into the most heartfelt ceremony of the season, perhaps of our lives.
Thank you for your beautiful work.”
~ Kathleen O’Hanlon ~
“I participated (again) in one of the most precious, powerful and important Masses I have ever seen in my life:
The Fools Mass. They sang, read the gospel, shared the peace of Christ, gave me bread, blessed me and
sent me to the world. Today I had church. Dzieci works in between theatre and religion, so you are there
for a play but it feels deeply like real worship. I left with this oceanic feeling that God was all around.”
– Claudio Carvalhaes, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Professor of Liturgy and Worship –
“One of the best experiences ever. There were times I forgot it was a play; I was so engrossed. Unbelievable!
I wish more people could experience this. The costumes were so real. The intensity of the old woman staring at me was haunting.
I found myself singing along, hugging the characters; wishing them ‘peace’. Very unlike me. I was as much a participant,
sharing the intimacy and transformation the castand fellow audience went through. The impact of the play, its intensity,
the innocence of the characters, stayed with me for days. It was just bloody awesome.”
~ Sashi Venkatesan ~
“At this holy time of year, Fools Mass is a genuinely spiritual experience: one feels such strong honesty
in the purity and simplicity of the characters’ faith and the comfort they receive through their connection
with the divine. The performances were totally convincing, and the singing transporting.
I think this was my favorite Dzieci performance yet.”
– Erik Finkleman –
“Fools Mass: an experience of humanity and the divine that is transformative and grace filled.”
– Brother Aelred Bernard Dean, BSG –
“I wept through the whole performance.”
– Brother Joseph Basil Gauss, BSG –
“I’ve had my Dinner With Andre experience, now I don’t need to go to Poland. At first I thought, ‘Oh, my God, these Fools
are just as broken as me.’ I felt completely related, enveloped in their world, and then completely transported.”
~ Gary Singer ~
“By the end of the Fools Mass, I was in love with every character. I no longer saw their teeth, or the dirt on their faces,
or their stooped and spastic forms. I saw only human beings in love with the sacred, in connection with spirit.
I saw brothers and sisters. I am still in rapture. It was magnificent, and deeply moving. And I can’t stop thinking about it.”
~ Dave Klaus ~
“I am so happy that I had a chance to see Fools Mass. From the early moments of standing in line to my exit,
I felt held and engaged in something I still do not have words to explain.
I am so humbled by my experience of witnessing. Thank you for sharing so intimately and with such grace.”
~ Jenifer Bruce ~
“Fools Mass is the finest incarnation of ‘blessed are the least of these’ I have seen –
Dzieci explodes the fourth wall and we become an integral part of the experience.”
~ Rev. Jeanie Shaw ~
“Thank you for this wonderful performance of Fools Mass. I still feel your presence. Coming from Poland many years ago
and loving Polish language, your name ‘Dzieci’ and what you do is very close to my heart.”
~ Krystyna Maliniak ~
“That was AMAZING! I was in the front row with my son, Milo. AMAZING!!! Thank you so much. We loved it. Thank you.”
~ Ayun Halliday ~
“It was f—ing perfect!”
~ Connie Castanzo ~
Anyone who has been involved in congregational leadership or more than darkened the door of their local parish
MUST see Fools Mass at least once in their lives. An in-the-aisles-rolling-with-laughter study of the personalities
and pieties that haunt all of us at work in the Church, Fools Mass reminds us what unspeakably profound things
can happen when tragedy strikes but the Mass must go on… You are extraordinary…thank you!
– Brother Richard Edward Helmer, BSG –
“’Fools Mass’, with a nod to Beckett, begs the question, ‘How do we, as people, manage when our ‘God’—our leader, our guide
does not show up?’ Left to our own devices, what do we make in the vacuum? How do we connect with one another in a way
that creates the thing we are missing? How do we climb out of our despair and disappointment and relate in order to make
a world with our fellows? How do we go on when our hearts are broken? I think Dzieci Theatre gives us a fine answer:
through enacting communal rituals, like Mass or theater or breaking bread with others, we embody the thing we’ve been waiting for. Thank you, Dzieci, for this transporting and transforming theatrical experience.”
– Rebecca Hoffman, LMSW –
“The performers entered so truthfully into their characters and related so lovingly with the spectators, we had no choice
but be engaged and to engage in wonder. Dzieci is not simply a troupe of performers but a community
seeking together a profound relationship with the Spiritual.”
– Rex Deverell, Minister Emeritus of Calvary Baptist Church in Toronto –
“As we were walking away from the performance, a car with other audience members flagged us down to get our reaction.
We were all so moved, we didn’t quite know what to say, but we all just stopped everything and talked about theater
and ritual and God and spirit. How often does that happen?”
– Patricia Kambitch –
“Experiencing Fools Mass was a hope filled, delightful and heartbreaking experience. Through song, worship
and by helping one another, the “fools” of Fools Mass teach us profound lessons about grief, love, faith and acceptance, lessons
that can enrich the lives of all. Thank you for the performance. It truly broadened my ideas of what theatre and worship can be.”
– Eric Hoffman –
“I don’t know any other group, which combines music, drama, dance, and spirituality in the way that they do.”
– Rev. Daniel Meeter, Old First Reformed Church, Brooklyn –
“Dzieci is a wonderful example of the spiritual intensity possible when theatre engages
the age-old mysteries
of faith and the human experience.”
– Canon Tom Miller, Cathedral St. John the Divine –
“I felt more ‘at home’ tonight during your performance than I’ve felt in the 10 years I’ve been at the seminary. Thanks!”
– Virginia Wiles, Professor of New Testament, New Brunswick Theological Seminary –
“I cannot put into words the experience I had watching the Fools Mass at St. John the Divine. It was amazing and beautiful,
and so very powerful. I’m honored, thankful, and humbled to have been there.
Thank you for what was the most beautiful service/performance I have ever witnessed.”
– Sarah Rippy –
“It wasn’t a play. It was a revelation.”
– Bayard Walker –
“We found the performance beautiful, moving, funny and poignant, and talked of it the whole subway ride home.”
– W. Laurie Ewer –
“Absolutely incredible. So deeply grateful to have been transformed by this powerful and soul stirring work.”
– Isis Phoenix –
“Thank you Dzieci for your beautiful offering. My soul felt cleansed and clarified by Fools Mass.”
– Carol Ann Graham –
“If you do this every Sunday, I’ll make it my church.”
– Anonymous –
“Fools Mass took my breath away!”
– Anais Haven –
“Your mission is so deeply spiritual and your portrayal of the simple people in the Fools Mass can only come
from a solid respect
for those who experience life in a different way.”
– Sister Pat Klemm, OSF –
“I was so sorry to have missed all of your season’s performances of the Fools Mass; it is always such an inspiring and renewing experience. I feel it is an essential part of my year, and of my holiday season, to have that experience at least once. When I realized that I had the time wrong, I felt that I still had to go, even if I arrived so late that the whole troupe was already packed up and gone; a kind of pilgrimage to at least connect with images and feelings of the Mass while I was en route.
Your welcome was so warm, and I am very grateful for the musical gift that the group gave me.
It truly moved me, and will stay with me. Especially as this was the end of your season, and a double-Mass day.
I appreciate the generosity of spirit that you all had in offering me that beautiful gift.”
~ Riley Kellogg ~
“Through my participation in this drama, the troupe transformed my perspective in one fell swoop. Suddenly,
things that I had known in my head and had said with my mouth, about inclusivity and the nature of the holy,
were embodied by Dzieci and experienced by me in a way that connected me—body, mind and spirit—
to the deep order and transcendent reality of the universe.”
– Renee House, Dean and Associate Professor of Practical Theology, New Brunswick Theological Seminary-
“Dzieci is devoted to the idea that theater is essentially a form of ‘communion’. It uses theater work to seek
an ever-greater understanding of what it means to share, to give of oneself in performance.”
~ Tom F. Driver, The Paul Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary –
“The lovely singing voices give a quality of holiness that lets this performance really ring
of simple souls reaching for the divine.”
– nytheatre.com –
“I attended another staging of Dzieci’s Fools Mass recently and was again overcome by its power, humor, sweetness and devotion.
It shows, in a very dramatic and humorous manner, precisely how we should encounter and participate in the actions and rituals
of the Mass: with excitement, enthusiasm and vigor. It’s a lesson about faith and the awe of the faithful.
If you live in this city, you should not miss out on seeing this production.
If you are not living in this city, travel to see one of these shows. You will not be sorry by what you find there.”
– catholicmanhattan.blogspot.com –
Entry on Dzieci and Fools Mass in The Encyclopedia of Religion –
A Note on Fools Mass
Transcendence found in a `Fools’ Mass – National Catholic Reporter
Dzeici | Showman/Shaman
Catholic Churches of Manhattan: *Fool’s Mass
fools mass in philadelphia « adventures in slow learning
Esteemed Reader: Holy Fools by Jason Stern
A 2007 Essay on Fools Mass and The Dzieci Workshop