TIPA to perform Milarepa play by Karmapa at Kagyu Monlam(Phayul)

Phayul[Monday, November 30, 2009 01:11]

Gyalwang Karmapa talks to Wangchuk Phasur, Director of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. Photo: Tenzin Yonten

Dharamsala, November 29 – His poems have been transformed into songs by noted Tibetan singers. He has spoken on environment and climate action. He sits in the Mind and Life conference on science and Buddhism. He recently gave lecture at the TED India conference at the world renowned Infosys campus in Mysore. He owns a Nikon Digital SLR camera, and a Sony Viao laptop. The versatility of the seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinlay Dorjee seems to only grow now that he has written a play on the great Tibetan Yogi Milarepa*.

Gyalwang Karmapa reads his script as artistes from TIPA act at a practice session. Photo: Tenzin Yonten

Gyalwang Karmapa makes a point to instructors from TIPA. Photo: Tenzin Yonten

The play is based primarily on the great yogi’s biography written by Namjor Ruepa Gyenchen, says Khenpo Gawang of the Tsurphu Labrang here at the Gyuto Monastery, the temporary residence of the young head of the Kagyu tradition of the Tibetan Buddhism. However, biographical works on the great Tibetan yogi by other writers including the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorjee were also referred.

Gyalwang Karmapa has a light moment at a practice session. Photo: Tenzin Yonten

54 artistes from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts will perform the play at the Kagyu Monlam (Kagyu Prayer Festival) in Bodhgaya on January 1, 2010. The institute’s director Wangchuk Phasur says it is an honor for his institute to be given this opportunity to perform a play written by His Eminence Gyalwang Karmapa himself. “When Karmapa Rinpoche brought us the script, we had no second thoughts but to immediately begin working on it. And our artistes also feel blessed by the once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The overall supervision for the play, from its script to the design of the stage has been done by Gyalwang Karmapa Rinpoche himself. Gyalwang Karmapa, who is seventeenth in his lineage, has been giving teachings on Milarepa's biography at Kagyu Monlam for the past few years.

Sonam Phuntsok, the opera master of the Institute, who is also acting in the play, says this will be the biggest ever theatrical play in the Tibetan history. “I have been in performing arts field for more than twenty five years now, and I have performed numerous times but mostly Tibetan traditional opera and not modern day theatre. So this is going to be really exciting one for us.”

More than 500 monks will be seated on two sides of a massive stage that will be designed by professionals from Mumbai and Taiwan. The monks will chant Buddhist prayers in between the scenes of the play. Eight cameras will be projecting the play on 3 giant screens.

Yonten, an artiste from the institute who has recently finished shooting for a film calledSemshook based on Tibetan writer activist Tenzin Tsundue, says, “I feel not just honored but blessed to be acting in a play about the great Milarepa that is written by the great Gyalwang Karmapa himself. I feel anxious because there is no retake in play, and certainly not in something big as this. I am nervous too.”

*(Milarepa is one of the most widely known Tibetan Saints. In a superhuman effort, he rose above the miseries of his younger life and with the help of his Guru, Marpa, took to a solitary life of meditation until he had achieved the pinnacle of the enlightened state, never to be born again into the Samsara (whirlpool of life and death) of worldly existence. Out of compassion for humanity, he undertook the most rigid asceticism to reach the Buddhic state of enlightenment and to pass his accomplishments on to the rest of humanity. (http://www.cosmicharmony.com)


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