Ceremony is about a life-changing experience.
It can also be one, and it has for many who’ve watched Michael Kass
recount his ayahuasca journey at venues around the country over the last three-plus years.
For those who don’t find it life-changing, Kass’ one-man show does prove warm, entertaining, and deeply life-afffirming.
(photo: Aysia Michelle @isaonair)
Like most theatrical soloists, Kass performs an autobiographic tale.
He keeps it simple: plastic buckets for set and props, no costumes, and voice shifts to evoke the half-dozen other characters who briefly appear.
(To be fair, there are over 100 sound and light cues, deftly provided by Alysia Michelle on closing night.)
Kass is equally sparing about information. One word, one gesture gives us all we need to know about his parents; the love of his life speaks a single sentence. Yet we understand intimately how he comes to inhabit the Slough of Despond (as John Bunyan, another gifted spiritual monologist, called it 340 years ago).
A quickly told string of brief encounters — and impulsive decisions — leads him to a retreat high in the Andes, to meet the potent drug known as “Mother Ayahuasca.” Here, in richer detail, Kass shares the moments, both harrowing and humorous, that changed his life.
Kass (unlike Bunyan) does not proselytize, nor even describe his altered life. It’s up to us to conclude that the fruit of his fearful pilgrimage is this man we’ve just spent the hour with — humble, self-deprecating, funny, and readily open.
Saturday’s staging — at director/producer Diana Wyenn’s home — was the last of Ceremony‘s numerous pop-up performances (which have won awards in LA, San Francisco and San Diego). Kass and Wyenn deserve our sincere thanks for providing an experience that’s riveting, lively, often hilarious, and offers us an unspoken invitation to reflect on our own spiritual quests.
Ceremony: A True Tale of Love, Fear and Ayahuasca, by Michael Kass, directed by Diana Wyenn.
Presented at various locations throughout the United States.