Jul 30 2016

Sacred Charlatan


Sacred Charlatan is a performance/concert created by Nikki Appino with music composed by Philip Glass and Tibetan folk singer and musician Tenzin Choegyal. Performed by actor Kevin Joyce and Tenzin Choegyal, the piece is inspired by the life and death of Theos Bernard (aka: the “White Lama”) as his journey intersects with western spiritualism, eastern religion and the tabloid environment of early 20th century America.

In March of 1938,Theos Bernard gave an alumnus lecture at the University of Arizona. When the curtains opened before a packed house, all in attendance saw Theos, religious scholar, explorer, mystic, in full Tibetan garb, seated in a chair next to a movie projector. “Come with me,” he invited the audience, “in a flight on the clipper ship of imagination, from San Francisco across the vast Pacific…into the heart of Asia – the land of the Lama – Tibet!”

As the evening progressed, Bernard provided dramatic details of his “recognition” by the Tibetans as the 8th century master, Padmasambhava, and of the prophesy of the coming of a white man who would herald and bring about the spread of Buddhism to the western world. Whatever actually transpired, Tibet opened the doors of their kingdom for Bernard, and he traveled home to New York with fifty mule loads of priceless, essential Tibetan scriptures.

The lecture was a huge success, and he received endorsements that enabled him to secure a contract for a lecture tour from a public relations firm in New York. Appearing four times on the cover of the largest-circulation magazine of the day, befriending the rich and famous, this charismatic and controversial “White Lama” helped introduce yoga and a spiritual path to American culture.

During his brief career, Bernard’s struggle to achieve both fame and legitimacy. Sensationalistic reports concerning his claims and identity garnered some positive public feedback, but also earned him private scorn and dismissal as a fraud and imposter. In 1947, he launched a second expedition into the Himalayas. He was never seen again.

What we know can only be pieced together from the fragments of his life left in the wake of his disappearance. Sacred Charlatan assembles these pieces into an impressionistic multimedia performance, scored by the incomparable team of Philip Glass and Tenzin Choegyal.

The Sacred Charlatan

-The Life and Death of Theos Bernard

Jul 29 2014

American Rimpoche


To the western imagination, Tibet evokes the exotic, the spiritual, and since its invasion by China, the political; a fabled land, sheltered from modernity and threatened by extinction. Endowed with all that the West has lost, Americans are enchanted with Tibet and its particular form of Buddhism. In American, the Dalai Lama has achieved rock-star status, and many turn to him for answers to today’s pressing conflicts and concerns. Read more ›

Nov 09 2011

The Glass Center

Philip Glass is creating a center for art, science and conservation. It’s a long term project that requires a lot of resources. Here’s a video created by Appino Productions to help him with his fantastic and visionary project.

May 15 2010

A Girl’s Gotta Ride

American rodeo celebrates rugged individualism, pits man against beast and seeks to tame the wild. Why do women do it?

Meet a few gals from the “All Women’s Rodeo”, these aren’t your fancy barrel racers that can make over two hundred thousand dollars a year at the men’s rodeos. These women earn around ten thousand dollars – if they’re lucky. But they travel miles of dusty roads to rope ornery steers, ride bucking broncs, and get thrown from the back of two thousand pound bulls. It’s a men’s game you might say, but if you give it a second look, you just might catch a glimpse into the heart of the great American cowgirl.

Read more ›

May 14 2010

Chiang Mai


Here is a new video for International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice

We started three projects:

1) Inside and Out – We completed twelve preliminary interviews for a documentary on the lives of lesbians in Thailand.

2) World on Fire – We shot the first interview with Dhamanada, the first full-ordained female monk in Thailand. This is a stand-alone piece for Thai audiences and also the first installment of a larger piece on women world spiritual leaders. Tenzin Palmo was interviewed last year.

3) The Art of Change – We completed the first theatre workshop with twenty-four participants in Pattaya and a media skills workshop in the winter of 2012

In the Spring of 2010 award-winning, American theatre director and producer Nikki Appino joined (IWP) –
International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice in its mission to promote the human rights work of local women’s organizations, community peace groups, non- government organizations (NGO’s) and grassroots activists from throughout South East Asia. Founded in 2002, IWP leads workshops, retreats and training courses that promote sustainability and transformation at the personal, community and societal levels. Workshops cover issues such as: non-violent action, conflict transformation, gender and diversity, violence against women, and leadership training.

Together with Executive Director, Ouyporn Khuankaew, Appino developed curriculum and co-taught a workshop titled, The Art of Change; Media and Arts Advocacy for Social Transformation.