Mass, Bristol Old Vic

Do we still need religion? That’s the question that was asked when I went to Mass.

Now this wasn’t any normal kind of Mass…. I assume normal Mass doesn’t have a pyre of Otis Reading and Aretha Franklin and kick off with free cider. If it did I may have attended before!

When I was invited down by Bristol Old Vic I thought it would be good to do a bit of background research (site blurb) which read…

“When the bus Amy Mason was travelling on ran two people over she found herself praying for the first time in years. The experience led her to think about life, faith, and the way we deal with tragedy in an increasingly secular society”

Now I don’t know about you but when I read that I thought, ‘this is going to be intense’. How wrong I was.

From the beginning Amy was talking to, not at, the audience which is a fairly difficult thing to do as a one woman show. To engage the audience, earn their respect and trust and then also manage to move through a structured production.

For all intent and purposes the play was blueprinted by a standard Mass. 
The song: Hallelujah (obviously)

1) Greeting: ‘Hi guys, thanks for coming’

2) Confession: ‘I’m sorry for anything mean I’ve done this week.’

3) Gratitude: Thank you friends and family and colleagues. Even if you’re a bit shit sometimes.’

4) Prayer: ‘I hope all people’s hopes come true’

5) Collection: For a charity chosen on the night by a person in the audience.

Each section was introduced by a bit of story from Amy about her experiences with religion and concluded by the audience shouting HOORAY!

We walked in not knowing what to expect and left laughing. I think everyone felt the soul grow a little bit lighter on exit because we’d been allowed to laugh at all the rules and regulations that religion holds whilst also being able to think about what religion actually means and how our society is doing without it.

I left thinking about some pretty big questions. 

As Amy highlighted, people are listening to things like The Secret which promotes positive thinking and the laws off attraction to encourage the universe to help their dreams come true but really… Isn’t that prayer?

We’re quickly growing into a society that has left religion behind, but has that left us lost?

If you are living atheist, who do you turn to in times of need? Is the lack of faith that there is a plan, a picture that is bigger than just us being sorted out by the big dawg in the sky making us more selfish?

Look at the world we live in now. Obsessed with how we look, how much money we have, how much individual power each person holds and really – we’re all going to end up in the ground. If all we leave behind is a ravaged planet with all its life sucked out because humans had nothing to believe in except themselves… That’s a pretty sorry affair.

Saying that, I wouldn’t call myself religious. I’ve been christened because my Nan wanted it, and my mum’s always been into meditation and I guess… Buddhist values which have likely rubbed off on me. But I wouldn’t call myself devoted to any one thing, I’d say I’m spiritual and try to live by Christian values of morality and treating your neighbor how you’d want to be treated and all that jazz. 

I’m put off religion because of the judgement and arrogance. So many people have killed and died to prove they and only they are correct in what the believe. Or feel it’s OK to tell someone their life choices will damn them because they’ve read an extract in a book that was written by some guy hundreds of years after the supposed Son of God said his piece.

So yes, lots of food for thought post Mass. It was nuts and beautiful in equal measure. I particularly enjoyed the almonds and plums that were given as a the substitute for bread and wine – which was better for me cause I was pretty pissed after the cider and bread makes me bloat.

Aretha bless you Amy Mason!