Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau

Last weekend, I was in my first off Broadway show - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Firebird Youth Theater. The show was produced, directed, and acted entirely by homeschooled teens. I played the Dodo, Pat the gardener, and the King of Hearts. We played 5 shows to sold out audiences and we got rave reviews from everyone who saw the production! Thanks to Katherine Bourbeau for these amazing photos!

Here's the cast and crew!

Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
 And our amazing 15 year old director, Leo Lion
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
Photo: Katherine Bourbeau
And here I am post-show with my alter ego, the Dodo!


Friday, February 27, 2015

Homeschool History, Religion, and Culture Studies (Part 11): Tibetan Buddhism



As part of our Homeschool History, Religion, and Culture studies, we spent the last couple of months studying Tibetan Buddhism. We are already familiar with Buddhism and the story of the Buddha (see the three movies we made about Buddha's life) and a few years ago we went on a retreat with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, where I got to ask him a question! Last summer, we learned about Zen Buddhism, stayed for a week at the famous Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery, and made a movie about the Zen master Dogen

We were excited to learn about Tibetan Buddhism because we were going on a trip to Dharamsala in India, home to his Holiness the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan Government. 

As you can see (above), we made a movie of the Heart of Wisdom sutra, which is one of the most central scriptures in Tibetan Buddhism. Two really friendly monks agreed to take part in the movie and to chant the famous mantra that ends the sutra: Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha. They also invited us to their monastery where we drunk Tibetan tea, which is made with butter and salt! Make sure to watch the outtakes from the movie below.

Here are some of the books we read from and movies/documentaries we watched about Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, and Tibetan history and culture:

Books:

The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography, Tetsu Seiwai
The Art of Happiness, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
From Here to Enlightenment: An Introduction to Tsong-Kha-Pa's Classic Text The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Guy Newland
Introduction to Emptiness: As Taught in Tsong-Kha-Pa's Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path, Guy Newland
Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Essence of the Heart Sutra, His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra, Thich Nhat Hanh 

Movies:

Kundun (Scorsese, 1997)
Seven Years in Tibet (Annaud, 1997)
The Sun Behind the Clouds (Sarim and Sonan, 2010)
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama (Ray 2006)
From Nomad to Nobody (Buckley, 2011)
Dalai Lama in Sun Valley (2005)
Various talks and lectures on His Holiness the Dalai Lama's website
 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Return to India


A couple of weeks ago, we got back from an awesome trip to India! We went to the south of India two years ago, but this time we went to the north and traveled with our amazing friends! For the first part of the trip, Baba, Jojo and I traveled to Dharamshala, the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Before we went, we studied lots about the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism, and Tibetan history (more about that in the next post). We stayed the first few night at the Norbulinkga Institute,and we visited Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and convents and temples.


We ate yummy Tibetan food: momos and Thenthuk soup!

 

And we learned some basics of Thangka painting.

This was our class. Our Thangka teacher is the cool guy with the camera!

 

Okay, this isn't really my painting! But if we'd stayed 3 more years, I could have produced this!


We met to great Tibetan monks who took us to their monastery for tea (Tibetan tea has butter and salt in it!)


Then we said goodbye to Dharamshala and traveled on to Delhi....

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We then said goodbye to Baba (who had to go back to NY) but we said hello to my great friend Zeke, his sister Uma, and his mum, Luisa! We then spent the next 10 days with them doing the famous Golden Triangle: Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra.



Me and Zeke in Lodi Gardens, Delhi


We stayed in a really cool fort/hotel in the Rajasthan desert! (where we went on amazing zipline...see below!)



We also went camel riding.


In Jaipur, we drunk the tastiest lassis! (here we are with our great driver, Ramesh)


Amer Fort, Jaipur...


Hanging out at the hotel...


We met and hugged and rode elephants!


We moved on to Bharatpur, where we went birdwatching at the amazing Keoladeo National Park. We saw these two cute owlets!


On the way to Agra, we went to see an huge mosque called Fatehpur Sikri.


And of course we saw the Taj Mahal!!

And back in Delhi, we went to the Gandhi memorial and museum. We saw the spot where Gandhi was shot and the bullet that killed him.