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Ulysses Missa

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Based on the idea of a Catholic Mass because of Catholicism’s relevance to Ireland, Joyce, and literature, the new musical, Ulysses Missa is a subversive ritual for all who want to pay reverence to one of the greatest literary achievements of the 20th Century. Using a cappella chorale, poetic language, and a non-narrative structure, it highlights themes of nationalism, a trinitarian relationship between Joyce and his protagonists, sacrificial relationships, and the creative spirit. Celebrate 100 years of James Joyce's Ulysses with this special mass.

Well that's what the blurb says about Ulysses Missa but what does Missa mean and what is a "cappella chorale."

Missa I believe means mass in Latin and a cappella chorale I believe is a chorus sang without any instruments but that is not strictly always the case.

According to Sarah Norcross Hough,

"I got interested in Joyce my senior year of high school when we read A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. I thought of it as my favorite book for many years but didn’t revisit it until after I graduated from college. 2020 was hard year for me and for everyone else, and I found solace in rereading it. I realized that I needed to go on a whole Joyce dive and read Dubliners (I’d only read The Dead before) and Ulysses. I read Ulysses with my boyfriend and we’d get together every week to have dinner and discuss our experiences reading. Those conversations sparked the feeling of awe that I had for the book that could only be properly expressed through a religious form.

Sarah supporting The Groundhogday Challenge by sharing a selfie with her copy of Ulysses.

I began parodying the traditional mass settings with text from Ulysses and eventually that spiraled into a full, experimental musical using the Catholic Mass form. The NY Theatre festival will be the first presentation of this work which is almost two years old at this point."

This production is entirely self funded but Sarah tells me that she’ll drain all her savings in order to make it happen, but the support she has already felt from other Joyce fanatics has already been incredible.

As I have already mentioned in a previous post, I love the idea of feeling like a Joycean benefactor supporting the arts and have already checked out some of the funding options available but really wish I could see the show being performed live in New York.

Tickets available from:

Supported by

UNESCO City of Literature

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