Jul 30 2014

Sacred Charlatan

Created by Philip Glass and Nikki Appino with Music by Philip Glass and Tenzin Chogyal.

In 1937 after years of forcibly stopping foreigners at the border, the Tibetan government welcomes in a young American from Arizona and initiates him into their secret world.
He’s greeted as a reincarnation of their most beloved saint.
He returns to America to great acclaim and carrying hundreds of photographs and sacred texts. He travels the country as a celebrity speaker and spiritual teacher.
In 1947 he set out again for Tibet…
…and never returns.

Sacred Charlatan is in its first stage of development for the stage .

Before he even set foot on his home soil in fall of 1937, Theo Bernard declared to a reporter from the London Daily Mail, “I am the first White Lama – the first Westerner ever to live as a priest in a Tibetan Monastery, the first man from the outside world to be initiated into the great Buddhist’s mysteries”.

By March of the following year he arranged an alumnus lecture at the University of Arizona. When the curtains opened before a packed house, all in attendance saw Theos Bernard, 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, Theos provided even more 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 Theos and he was sent home with fifty mule loads of priceless, essential tibetan scriptures.

The evening was a success, and he received endorsements sufficient enough 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” introduced yoga and a spiritual path to American culture.

Bernard’s accounts were picked up by the British tabloid press at the time, and, though their sensationalistic reports concerning his identity as “a white Lama” garnered some positive public feedback, it also earned him the scorn and private dismissal as a fraud and imposter.

In 1947, Bernard launched a second expedition into the Himalayas and was never seen again. What actually happened to Theos can only be pieced together from the fragments of his life that he left in his wake when he disappeared.

The Sacred Charlatan
-The Life and Death of Theos Bernard

Jul 29 2014

The 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.