About 100 students at the University of Notre Dame walked out of their commencement ceremony on Sunday, an action that was part of a peaceful protest of the featured speaker, Vice President Mike Pence, and the administration he represents.
After Sunday’s commencement, some criticized the students’ actions, saying they were stifling intellectual diversity in academic institutions. Colleges and universities, they say, should be places where students engage a variety of ideas and learn the critical skill of how to respect and evaluate ideas with which they may disagree. According to them, walking out on Pence demonstrates a lack of academic curiosity and a liberal, millennial generation tendency to tune out anyone whose thoughts and stances they don’t like.
But no one hindered anyone’s right to free speech in the Notre Dame walk out. Commencement should be a celebration that highlights the achievements and potential of the graduates, not an occasion to make a statement on academic freedom.
Colleges and universities have plenty of opportunities during a student’s career to challenge their paradigms. Students who are about to graduate have just spent the last three to five years processing an array of thoughts and beliefs. Graduation acknowledges that students have wandered through the forest of ideological positions and come out on the other side as seasoned academic adventurers.
A commencement speech is not a classroom lecture or a book a professor assigns. There is no opportunity for dialogue during the event nor is there an expectation of engagement after the fact. Commencement is a voluntary ceremony where any speaker can speak on any topic, but students are not obligated to remain and listen.
The Notre Dame walkout demonstrates the effect President Donald Trump has had on high-level officials in his administration. Earlier this month, Bethune-Cookman University students stood up and turned their backs on their commencement speaker, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Criticized for her brand of public education reform and for a lack of experience, some students booed during her speech and a few had to be escorted out of the ceremony.
The president’s rhetoric and actions have alienated many voters, especially some women and racial and ethnic minorities. Anyone who remains supportive of Trump and works to advance his policies can expect strong opposition in public settings like a commencement, especially in a context that expects celebration.
Notre Dame has a standing custom of inviting the president of the United States to give the commencement address during his first year in office. Students at the university gathered over 2,700 signatures petitioning the administration not to invite President Trump, who is widely regarded as divisive and showing very low approval ratings in the initial days of his presidency.
Instead, Notre Dame officials invited the vice president, second-in-command to a president whom many find inept and unpredictable. Pence, a former governor of Indiana, was unpopular with many voters before taking national office. He gained broad attention for championing a religious freedom initiative that some say would have permitted Christian businesses to refuse service to certain clientele. Pence ultimately approved a compromise bill, a measure that was criticized by both right- and left-leaning voters.
Pence also faced protesters at commencement at Grove City College, a conservative Christian institution, where disapproving students cited his stances on LGBT rights, health care, and the environment.
Of course, institutions of higher education should expose students to a spectrum of thought in order to challenge their preconceived notions and better understand differing points of view. Productive citizens learn how to navigate a pluralistic world without retreating from it, preparing young people for life after college.
The graduates at Notre Dame didn’t walk out because they refused to listen to Pence’s positions and opinions, they walked out precisely because they had heard him. Only after considering his stances did some members of the Class of 2017 choose to protest Pence’s presence as their commencement speaker.
What about the students who didn’t walk out, students who may have been excited to hear Pence speak? That’s the great part about free speech. While its decision may have been unwise, the university is free to invite whomever it wants to speak at commencement. Students are also free to sit and listen to a speaker whether they agree or disagree. Students are also free not to listen and peacefully, silently walk out in protest.
This is not the first time students at the Catholic school have protested a commencement speaker. Students objected to president George W. Bush because of his support of the death penalty. And students objected to President Barack Obama because of his abortion rights stance, a position that goes against the teaching of the Catholic church.
This year’s graduates of Notre Dame were within their right to register their objection to their commencement speaker by walking out. Observers are also within their right to disagree with the protest. That is what freedom looks like.
Boulder Creek Fest. Boulder’s unofficial kickoff to summer includes a day of activities and entertainment. Boulder Creek/Downtown Boulder, 303-449-3137. Through May 29.
The Denver Arts Festival. An exhibition of Colorado’s best visual artists and a few national talents, too. 10 a.m. Northfield at Stapleton, 8034 E. 49th Place, Denver, 303-330-8237. Through May 28.
Sunday, May 28
Yoga Rocks the Park. Get your downward dog on, then stick around for food, drinks and live music. Kids’ camp for children ages 5 to 10. 8 a.m. Sunken Gardens Park, Speer and 11th, Denver. yogarocksthepark.com. Through September 3.
Thursday, June 1
Lakewood Symphony. For its season finale, the Symphony presents Holst’s The Planets, setting the “music of the spheres” against the universe. Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood, 303-987-7845.
LUZIA by Cirque du Soleil. 7:30 p.m. Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle, Denver,
303-405-1100. Through June 9.
Saturday, June 3
Burning Can Festival at Lyons Outdoor Games. Start summer with more than 50 craft breweries plus adventure, music and revelry. Bohn Park, 219 Second Ave., Lyons, burningcan.com/lyons. Through June 4.
Denver Chalk Art Festival. See more than 200 artists turn the streets of Larimer Square into a museum of chalk art. Noon. Larimer Square, Denver, 303-534-2367. Through June 4.
Golden Super Cruise. Check out classic cars as they line up or roll out along the open road. 5 p.m. S. Golden Road, Golden, 303-968-7536. First Saturday of the month through Oct. 7.
People’s Fair. Celebrate Denver’s diverse urban community with a weekend of entertainment, events, activities and attractions. 10 a.m. Civic Center Park, E. Broadway Avenue and Colfax, Denver, 303-830-1651. Through June 4.
Poudre Riverfest. Poudre RiverFest is a free, family-friendly festival that celebrates and educates people about the Cache la Poudre River. Join in for nature walks, hands-on service projects, a scavenger hunt, kids’ activities, exhibitors, food, a New Belgium beer garden and live music. 500 Linden St., Fort Collins., poudreriverfest.org.
A Taste of Louisville. Come and enjoy excellent food, arts and craft booths, kids’ entertainment and the Louis-Palooza, which features local bands performing at the Steinbaugh Pavilion. 9 a.m. Main St., Louisville, 303-666-5747.
Zikr Dance Ensemble. The world premiere of Ancient Shadows, a mesmerizing exploration into the spiritual ancestry of the indigenous people of Central and South America. Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood, 303-987-7845. Through June 4.
Sunday, June 4
Boulder Jewish Festival. Explore Jewish culture with ethnic food, music, fine art, Judaica and activities for all ages. 11 a.m. Courthouse Lawn, Pearl Street Mall, 1300 Pearl St., Boulder, boulderjewishfestival.org.
OUT Boulder County Garden Party. Join Out Boulder County for an afternoon of good food, great friends and two awards to honor local heroes in our LGBTQ Community. 4 p.m. RSVP for location or check out outboulder.org, 303-499-5777.
Thursday, June 8
Longmont Art Guild Art Show. Check out and buy the work of Guild artists in this juried show. Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, 303-678-6235. Through June 11.
Taste of the West. Enjoy Jefferson County’s premiere culinary event with over 30 participating chefs and restaurants. 5 p.m. Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 W. Sixth Ave., Frontage Road, Golden, 303-399-5652.
Friday, June 9
Taste of Fort Collins. Enjoy the best of Fort Collins with food trucks, local beer and drink, arts and crafts vendors, a kids’ area and live music. Civic Center Park/Washington Park, Fort Collins, 203-900-5566. Through June 11.
Saturday, June 10
Erie Brewfest. The fifth annual outdoor brewfest hosts 30 local breweries, a dozen food trucks and live music from local bands. 12 p.m. Briggs Street, Historic Downtown, Erie, 303-828-3440.
Denver Children’s Museum Birthday Bash. Bring the kids and join Daniel Tiger for a morning of community service in Joy Park. 8 a.m. Denver Children’s Museum, 2121 Children’s Museum Drive, Denver, 303-433-7444.
Grillapalooza. 10 a.m. Spend the day enjoying grilling demos by expert grillmasters. McGuckin Hardware, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-444-7328.
Sunday, June 11
Molly-Dharma Motorcycle Run. Watch or register to be one of 300 bikers riding through the Foothills to benefit local animal shelters. 10:30 a.m. Platte River Bar & Grill, 5995 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 303-548-5123.
A Taste of Puerto Rico. One of Colorado’s most soulful festivals, the yearly event features Puerto Rican food, culture and music. 11 a.m. Civic Center Park, E. Broadway Avenue and Colfax, Denver, 303-667-4031.
Taste of the Broncos. A walking restaurant tour featuring some of Denver’s most highly regarded chefs, set to the sound of bluegrass and swarming with Denver Broncos players, cheerleaders and alumni. All proceeds benefit Feeding America. 6:30 p.m. Sports Authority Field, 1701 Bryant St., Denver, 720-258-3100.
Thursday, June 15
Do at the Zoo. Graze on sample dishes from more than 55 of the Denver’s finest restaurants and belly up to the watering hole for unlimited drinks featuring the region’s best beers, wines and cocktails. 7 p.m. Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St., Denver, 720-337-1400.
LoHi Music Festival. Warm up for summer at this local music fest featuring The New Mastersounds, TAUK, Liver Down the River and more. 11 a.m. 2219 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, 303-555-5555.
Taste It Broomfield. Enjoy bite-sized dishes prepared by dozens of local restaurants serving up tasty attractions that reflect their signature styles. Local breweries and wineries will offer tastings as well. 5 p.m. 1stBank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, 303-466-1775.
Friday, June 16
The Denver Moth Storyslam. 7:30 p.m. Swallow Hill Music at Daniels Hall, 71 E. Yale Ave., Denver, 303-777-1003.
Greek Festival. This year’s festivities will mark 52 years of this beloved celebration of Greek food, dance and music. 11 a.m. Assumption Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 4610 E. Alameda Ave., Denver, thegreekfestival.com. Through June 18.
Saturday, June 17
Denver PrideFest. Celebrate and support the LGBT community and viva la vida at Denver’s annual parade and party. Civic Center Park, E. Broadway Avenue and Colfax, Denver, 303-733-7743. Through June 18.
Sunday, June 18
Brewers’ Olympics. Kick off Fort Collins Beer Week with the outrageous competition that proves that drinking and competition go hand in hand. Noon. Go West T-Shirt Co., 1725 Heath Parkway, Fort Collins, 970-217-8786.
Fort Collins Beer Week. An annual beer-centric scavenger hunt that sends you to various locations, including breweries and landmarks, on the hunt for great craft beer. Various venues, Old Town Fort Collins,
970-217-8786. Through June 26.
Monday, June 19
Juneteenth Music Festival. Celebrate the end of slavery and the beginning of African American independence with a parade, music and events. 10 a.m. FivePoints, 25th Street, Denver, 720-505-3274.
Off the Hook Arts SummerFest. A summer-long series of classes, workshops, community building and, of course, music. Locations all along the Front Range, 970-305-2261. Through July 13.
Wednesday, June 21
#IMOMSOHARD Live. Two moms and their comedic take on family life. 8 p.m. Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Ave., Denver, 303-623-0106.
Friday, June 23
16th Street Fair. An annual celebration of Colorado’s artisans and their fine art and handcrafted goods. 11 a.m. 16th Street Mall, Denver, 720-272-7467. Through June 24.
Saturday, June 24
Brighton Art in the Park. Meet and visit with local, regional and international artists showcasing their best work, sample fine cuisine and enjoy musical performances. 10 a.m. Carmichael Park, 650 Southern St., Brighton. 303-655-2176.
Cherry Blossom Festival. Experience the beauty of Japanese culture and the spring season. 11 a.m. Sakura Matsuri, Lawrence Street between 19th Street and 20th Street, Denver, cherryblossomdenver.org. Through June 25.
High Peaks Art Festival. A juried exhibition of fine arts and crafts, live music and food booths in a beautiful mountain setting. 10 a.m. Town Square, Nederland, highpeaksartfestival.com. Through June 25.
Kinetics Solstice Festival. Enjoy a day of music, food, beverages, a kids’ recycled raft race, solstice swim and the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race. 11 a.m. Union Reservoir, 461 Colorado Road 26, Longmont, longmontkinetics.com.
Longmont Pride. Enjoy music, food, games and more as we embrace the equality and diversity that makes us proud to be who we are. 2 p.m. Fourth Avenue between Main Street and Emery Street, Longmont, 303-499-5777.
Rocky Mountain Pizza and Pints Festival. A day of pizza, beer, live music and lawn games for the second annual Rocky Mountain Pizza & Pints Festival at Community Park in Louisville from 1-6 p.m. 955 Bella Vista Dr., Louisville, bceproductions.com.
Westword Music Showcase. Hear many of the finalists for the Westword Music Awards, including Shakey Graves, The Revivalists, Bob Moses and more. 12 p.m. Various stages across the Golden Triangle, 1100 Acoma St., Denver,
Tuesday, June 27
SeriesFest. An international celebration showcasing the best new pilots from established and emerging creators in TV. SIE Film Center, 2510 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, seriesfest.com. Through July 2.
Wednesday, June 28
The Three Musketeers (1921). 7:30 p.m. Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder, 303-442-3282.
Thursday, June 29
Rocky Mountain Regional Pony of the Americas Shows. Join in this horse competition and show featuring English and Western events, games and more. Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, 303-678-6235. Through July 2.
Friday, June 30
Cherry Creek Arts Festival. Experience a world-class and award-winning celebration of the visual, culinary and performing arts. Denver’s Cherry Creek North Shopping District, from Second to Third Avenues, between Clayton and Steele Streets. Through July 3.
Denver Comic Con. Join the costumed crowds as fans, cosplayers, artists and writers come together to celebrate a love of all things comics. Denver Convention Center, 700 14th St., Denver, popcultureclassroom.org. Through July 2.
Saturday, July 1
Boulder Arts and JazzFest. Three days of great music and events. Boulder Bandshell, Central Park, Boulder,Bandshell, Broadway and Canyon. 303-990-9177. Through July 3.
Independence Celebration. You only turn 241 once! Come celebrate the nation’s birthday with old-time games, historic demonstrations, live music, horse-drawn wagon rides and more. 5 p.m. Four Mile Historic Park, 715 S. Forest St., Denver, 720-865-0800.
Monday, July 3
Erie July Third Extravaganza. Join in the Independence Day celebration a day early. Colorado National Golf Club, Highway 7, Erie, 303-926-2790.
Tuesday, July 4
Fourth of July Celebration. An old-fashioned celebration with live music, drinks, food, games and fireworks at dusk. 4 p.m. Waneka Lake Park, 1600 Caria Drive, Lafayette, 303-666-9555.
Golden Lion’s Club Fourth of July Festival. An all-day party in Lions Park with food, live music, beer and free rides and face painting for kids. Noon. Lions Park, 1300 10th St., Golden, 303-870-7972.
Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast. A classic community celebration with a patriotic sing-along, special performances and front row seats for the fireworks. 8 p.m. Folsom Field, University of Colorado, 2400 Colorado Ave., Boulder, 303-541-1928.
Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival. Enjoy bluegrass, square dancing in a barn and workshops to hone your skills. Parrish Ranch, 15722 Parrish Road, Berthoud, thecroma.org. Through July 9.
Friday, July 7
Biergarten Festival. Bring your lederhosen and grab a beer and a bratwurst. 4 p.m. 17832 Highway 8, Morrision, 303-837-1146. Through July 9.
Colorado Black Arts Festival. An event dedicated to the role of black arts and culture on three stages of jazz, blues, reggae, gospel, traditional African drum and dance. 10 a.m. City Park, 17th Ave. and Colorado Blvd., Denver, 888-363-1823ext. 20. Through July 10.
Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo. The 35th annual statewide competition. 5 p.m. Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 W. Sixth Ave., Golden, Tickets available through crga.us. Through July 9.
Rhythm on the River. Featuring art, offerings from local restaurants and breweries, and live music. Roger’s Grove Park, 220 Hover Road, Longmont, 303-651-8404. Through July 8.
TEDxMileHigh: Point of Departure. Get ready to be engaged and inspired by ideas and experiences with the power to alter the course of your life. 10 a.m. Ellie Caulkins Opera House, 1101 13th St., Denver, 303-893-4100. Through July 8.
Saturday, July 8
Breckenridge Brewery Hootenanny. Pig-pickin’, music-playing, foot-stomping, beer-drinking block party with music by the Sam Bush Band and dozens more. 11 a.m. Breckenridge Brewery, 6775 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton, 303-623-2739.
Wednesday, July 12
Peter Pan.7:30 p.m. Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder, 303-442-3282.
Friday, July 14
Colorado Irish Festival. Experience the largest Irish celebration in the Rocky Mountains with traditional Irish music performances, dancing, theater, storytelling, crafts, games and food. Clement Park, 7306 Bowles Ave., Littleton, coloradoirishfestival.org. Through July 16.
Saturday, July 15
Pearl Street Arts Fest. Downtown Boulder is transformed into an outdoor art gallery under the summer sun. Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, 303-449-3774. Through July 16.
Longmont Songwriter’s Festival. Join local songwriters to celebrate the power of the written note. 300 Suns Brewery, 335 First Ave., Unit C, Longmont, 720-442-8292.
German Fest. An experience of German Culture in Colorado full of food, dance and tradition. Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood, 303-987-7845. Through June 23.
Denver County Fair. A showcase of Denver’s unique character and culture all wrapped up in a carnival. National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St., Denver. Through July 23.
The Denver Moth Storyslam. 7:30 p.m. Swallow Hill Music at Daniels Hall, 71 E. Yale Ave., Denver, 303-777-1003.
Saturday, July 22
Arvada On Tap. Enter your homebrew in a competition and, win or lose, toast to some slow-cooked BBQ. 12 p.m. Ralston Park, 11200 Ralston Road, Arvada,720-898-3380.
Wednesday, July 26
The Scarlet Letter (1926). 7:30 p.m. Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder, 303-442-3282.
Thursday, July 27
Buffalo Bill Days. Celebrate the root-tootin’ hero of the Wild West with a parade, games and more. Golden, 303-278-9898. Through July 30.
Underground Music Showcase. Experience Denver’s premier indie music festival with over 400 featured bands across 20 venues. South Broadway Area, Denver, theums.com. Through July 30.
Friday, July 28
Boulder Beer 37th Anniversary Celebration. Live music all day featuring Duey and The Decibels and of course beer, beer, beer. Noon. 2800 Wilderness Place, Boulder, 303-444-8448 ext. 19.
Boulder County Fair. Ten days of rides, games, rodeos and more. Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, 303-678-6235. Through Aug. 6.
RockyGrass. Come put your feet in the river and listen to some of the best pickin’ in the world at the 45th annual festival. Planet Bluegrass, 500 W. Main St., Lyons, 800-624-2422. Through July 30.
Saturday, July 29
Colorado Dragon Boat Festival. Celebrate Colorado’s rich Asian Pacific American heritage. Sloan’s Lake Park, 1700 N. Sheridan Blvd., Denver, 303-953-7277. Through July 30.
Jim Gaffigan. Get your laugh on with this comedic genius. 8 p.m. 1stBank Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, 303-410-0700.
SummerFest. An afternoon of hands-on, nature-inspired activities designed to be educational and fun for all ages. 1 p.m. Boulder Bandshell, Central Park, Boulder, 303-441-3100.
Sunday, July 30
Aerial Dance Festival. Two weeks of aerial dance performance and training. Frequent Flyers Studio, 3022 E. Sterling Circle, Suite 150, Boulder, 303-245-8272. Through Aug. 11.
Wednesday, August 2
My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy.Steve Solomon’s comedy about what it’s like to leave a family dinner with heartburn and a headache. Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, Lakewood, 303-987-7845. Through Aug. 20.
Friday, August 4
ARISE Music Festival. Music, yoga, camping, art, film and activism. Sunrise Ranch, 100 Sunrise Ranch Road, Loveland. arisefestival.com. Through Aug. 6.
16th Street Fair. An annual celebration of Colorado’s artisans and their fine art and handcrafted goods. 11 a.m. 16th Street Mall, Denver, 720-272-7467. Through Aug. 12.
Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest. Join in the celebration of Fort Collins birthday with its annual showcase of 250 arts and crafts vendors. Downtown Fort Collins, 970-484-6500. Through Aug. 13.
National Poetry Slam Finals. 7 p.m. Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Ave., Denver, 303-623-0106.
Western Welcome Week Grand Parade and Festival Day. 9 a.m. Downtown Littleton. 303-794-4870,
westernwelcomeweek.org. Through Aug. 20.
Saturday, August 12
Erie Air Fair. Displays of unique aircraft, cars and trucks with helicopter rides, food, beer and musical entertainment. 10 a.m. Erie Municipal Airfield, 395 Airport Road, Erie, 303-664-0633.
Sunday, August 13
Garrison Keillor’s Love and Comedy. 6:30 p.m. Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver, 303-777-1003.
Friday, August 18
The Denver Moth Storyslam. 7:30 p.m. Swallow Hill Music at Daniels Hall, 71 E. Yale Ave., Denver, 303-777-1003.
Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. The mellow moods of the festival are the perfect antidote for the late summer sun. Planet Bluegrass, 500 W. Main St., Lyons, 800-624-2422. Through Aug. 20.
Saturday, August 19
Boulder Craft Beer Fest. Join Boulder’s beloved breweries in a boisterous beer bash. 1 p.m. Municipal Building Campus Park, 1777 Broadway, Boulder,
Golden Fine Arts Festival. Check out high quality artwork, a friendly atmosphere, a gorgeous creek setting and lots of complimentary activities. 10 a.m. Downtown Golden, 303-279-3113. Through Aug. 20.
Lafayette Peach Festival. Experience what all the fuzz is about at this celebration of sweet peaches. 9 a.m. Old Town Lafayette on Public Road, Lafayette, 303-666-9555.
Friday, August 25
Tour De Fat. Costume up and party down with high-flying acts focusing on fun, music, dance and the American craft beer icon, Fat Tire. 7 p.m. Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030.
NedFest. Nederland’s celebrated music festival returns with bluegrass, funk, rock and roll and a hint of jazz. Jeff Guercio Memorial Baseball Field, 151 E. St., Nederland, nedfest.org. Through Aug. 27.
Rock of Ages. BDT Stage puts on Rock of Ages, a musical set in the late ’80s with tunes to match.5501 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder,303-449-600, bdtstage.com. Through Nov. 11.
Saturday, August 26
Festival on Main. Celebrate the summer with a fun-packed festival of music and activities suitable for all ages. Downtown Longmont, 303-651-8484.
Oktoberfest. Beer hall antics abound at this traditional German fest. 11 a.m. 17832 Highway 8, Morrison, tevedelweiss.org, 303-289-5621.
T.J. Miller. T.J. Miller is one of the most sought after comedians in the comedy world, but not in the drama world or the finance world. 7:30 p.m. Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Ave., Denver, 303-623-0106.
Sunday, August 27
Golden Gran Fondo Festival. Watch or participate in one the most challenging road races in the nation. 8 a.m. Parfet Park, 10th Street and Washington Avenue, 765-247-2453.
Friday, September 1
A Taste of Colorado. 11:30 a.m. Civic Center Park, E. Broadway Avenue and Colfax, Denver, 303-295-6330. Through Sept. 4.
Saturday, September 2
Boulder Creek Hometown Festival.Arts and crafts, live performances, 5K, kids and sports expo, food court, beer garden and more. Central Park, Boulder, 303-494-3137. Through Sept. 4.
Pints at the Park. Celebrate the end of summer with beer, bites and more. Noon. Community Park, 955 Bella Vista Drive, Louisville, 303-666-5747.
Sunday, September 3
Tour de Fat. Celebrate beer and bikes with a parade, cruiser ride, music and more. 10 a.m. Civic Center Park, Fort Collins, 970-221-0524.
Monday, September 4
Rocky Mountain Pizza and Pints Festival. A day of pizza, beer, live music and lawn games. Central Park, Boulder,
303-494-3137. Through Sept. 4.
Friday, September 15
Zee Jaipur Literarature Festival. This three-day offshoot of the largest free literary festival in the world is held at the Boulder Public Library main branch, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, jaipurliteraturefestival.org. Through Sept. 17.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
BAM presents DanceAfrica 2012: One Africa/Many Rhythms The 35th anniversary of DanceAfrica—under the artistic direction of Baba Chuck Davis—features the largest gathering of dance companies in its history, with 15 companies in attendance and performance over two weekends, the return of many favorite performers, and reunions of companies from the earliest DanceAfrica festivals during a special Opening Celebration on Sunday, May 20.
Celebratory tradition also includes BAMcafé Live and FilmAfrica events, the outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar, an Iconic Artist Talk, and more.
DanceAfrica 2012 One Africa/Many Rhythms Artistic Director: Baba Chuck Davis
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave)
DanceAfrica 2012 Opening Celebration: May 20 at 3pm All tickets: $20
DanceAfrica 2012 Memorial Day Weekend: May 25 at 7:30pm** May 26 at 2 & 7:30pm May 27 & 28 at 3pm Tickets start at $20 (Half price for ages 16 and under) **Dance critics are invited to attend the Friday, May 25 performance; please contact aleshko@BAM.org” aleshko@BAM.org
Iconic Artist Talk: Baba Chuck Davis May 27 at 6pm BAM Hillman Attic Studio Tickets: $20 ($10 for Friends of BAM) To purchase tickets or for more information, visit BAM.org or call (718) 636-4100.
May 2012 marks the 35th anniversary of DanceAfrica—a Memorial Day weekend tradition packed with dance, music, art, film, and community events—plus the popular DanceAfrica outdoor bazaar. Founded by Baba Chuck Davis in 1977, DanceAfrica is the nation’s largest festival dedicated to African dance and has become one of the most vibrant celebrations of its kind, uniting dancers worldwide to celebrate the cultural vitality of Africa and its diaspora.
In a departure from years past, DanceAfrica 2012 will feature a special pre-Memorial Day Opening Celebration on Sunday, May 20 at 3pm to commemorate DanceAfrica’s 35th anniversary which will feature reunions of and performances by many of the companies from the earliest DanceAfrica festivals. A traditional libation ceremony will take place on the steps of the BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building prior to the ceremony at approximately 2:30pm. In addition, over Memorial Day weekend (May 25—28), DanceAfrica 2012 will present a different performance roster each evening.
DanceAfrica 2012 begins on Saturday, May 19 with a pre-opening ceremony at 10am at Weeksville Heritage Center. This traditional ceremony, which includes dancing and music by local artists, is an integral part of DanceAfrica that honors elders who have passed on to the ancestral grounds. The event is free and open to the public. The celebration will continue at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton St., Brooklyn) at 1pm with the annual community welcome for the visiting company featuring free performances by students from Restoration who have participated in the DanceAfrica Education program. The week-long DanceAfrica celebration, which is centered around the dance performances at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (May 20, 25—28), also includes the popular outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar with nearly 300 vendors selling crafts, food, and fashion; FilmAfrica, a BAMcinématek film series at BAM Rose Cinemas; master classes for families and adults; a Black Rock Coalition Orchestra Salute to Don Cornelius & Soul Train with a Late-Night Dance Party in the BAMcafé; and an Iconic Artist Talk with DanceAfrica founder Baba Chuck Davis interacting with DanceAfrica footage from the BAM archives.
Additionally, recent recipients of the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarship for post-secondary education will be presented with their awards on the Opera House stage during the May 20th Opening Celebration. Inspired by the spirit of DanceAfrica, BAM.
Trustee Richard Feldman launched the Samuel H. Scripps BAM Scholarship Fund in 2008, in memory of former BAM Trustee and arts patron Sam Scripps. The Scholarship exclusively benefits students who have participated in BAM’s arts education programs, including the DanceAfrica Education initiative. Mainstage lineup. Opening Celebration, Sun, May 20 at 3pm **
Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse). Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Dance Company (Manhattan)* United African Dance Troupe (Queens). BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn). Alumni Companies: Arthur Hall Afro-American Alumni Ensemble (Philadelphia)* Charles Moore Dance Theatre (Brooklyn) Chuck Davis Dance Company (New York) Dinizulu Dancers, Drummers, and Singers (Queens) International Afrikan-American Ballet (Brooklyn) *Not performing. **Traditional libation ceremony on the steps of the Peter Jay Sharp Building precedes the Opening Celebration, at approximately 2:30pm
Fri, May 25 at 7:30pm Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Farafina Kan: The Sound of Africa (Washington, DC) United African Dance Troupe (Queens) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
Sat, May 26 at 2pm & 7:30pm Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Forces of Nature Dance Theatre (Manhattan) Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Dance Company (Manhattan) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
Sun, May 27 at 3pm Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Illstyle Peace Productions (Philadelphia) Creative Outlet (Brooklyn) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
Mon, May 28 at 3pm Adanfo Ensemble (Syracuse) Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna (Bronx) Asase Yaa (Brooklyn) BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble (Brooklyn)
About the companies The Adanfo Ensemble is an ensemble of musicians and dancers with roots in Ghana, West Africa. Founder David Etse Nyadedzor was born and raised in Ghana where he performed with many local African groups. An experienced master drummer, he studied with the Folkloric Selamta traditional cultural group at the Center for National Culture in Accra, Ghana, where he mastered Ghanaian and other African drumming techniques as well as a repertoire of Ghanaian, Togolese, Nigerian, Guinean, Senegalese, Zimbabwean, and South African dances. The word “Adanfo” translates as “friends and family” and the ensemble has performed widely throughout the United States.
In 1964, the Chuck Davis Dance Company (CDDC) included a small group of dancers and drummers from a neighborhood youth summer program participating in a summer program at the Burger Junior High School Action Theatre in the South Bronx, and the Bernice Johnson Dance Studio. By 1968, CDDC, under the management of Bessie Pruitt, was a company-in-residence for the New York City Board of Education, reaching thousands of children through lecture-demonstration and mini-concerts. In 1977 the company was chosen to represent the US at FESTAC ’77, a pan-African cultural event held in Lagos, Nigeria. CDDC also served as official US Ambassadors of Goodwill, touring Italy, Yugoslavia, Norway and Greece in 1980. The company, which performed in many DanceAfrica festivals, disbanded in 1983.
The Arthur Hall Afro-American Dance Ensemble was founded in Philadelphia in 1958. Over the next 30 years, the ensemble toured internationally to West Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil, founded the storied Ile Ife Black Humanitarian Center and the Ile Ife Museum of African Culture in North Philadelphia, performed on national television broadcasts, and produced numerous full-length ballets. The company was dissolved in 1988 when founder Arthur Hall left Philadelphia for his native Memphis, Tennessee. Ensemble alumni have formed several performing groups and cultural organizations, and continued to perform for Arthur Hall until his death in 2000. In 2008, ensemble alumni regrouped to present a series of concerts and cultural celebrations to honor Hall.
The Charles Moore Dance Theatre (CMDT) is one of the oldest nonprofit black arts organizations in Brooklyn. Founded in 1974 by Charles and Ella Thompson Moore to demonstrate the beauty and great variety of African, Caribbean, and African-American culture, the company proves that multiculturalism and traditional black American arts are inseparable.
The International Afrikan-American Ballet was founded in 1975 by former members of Les Ballet Du Ladji Camara and modeled on the great national ballets of Guinea and Senegal. As artists who had worked and trained with Papa Ladji Camara prior to that company’s disbanding they did not want to lose the foundation of African folkloric music and dance. In 1977, IAAB was invited by Baba Chuck Davis to become a part of what became known as DanceAfrica, along with four other companies that helped to establish DanceAfrica as a landmark series. The company disbanded in the mid-1990s.
Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Dance Company, founded by Danys “La Mora” Perez, is a company committed to the preservation of Afro-Cuban folklore, encouraging cross-cultural understanding of dance and music forms derived from African culture. The company’s traditional repertoire pays tribute to African lineages derived from the Yoruba, Congo, Carabali, Arará, and Dahomean cultures of West Africa and Haiti, while also celebrating Cuban heritage.
The United African Dance Troupe performs, entertains, and educates using dance, song, drums, and percussion from the continent of Africa. UADT’s dancers and musicians range from 7 to 70 years old, and bring joyful cultural expression to each performance.
Creative Outlet Dance Theatre of Brooklyn was founded in 1994 by Jamel Gaines, Lakai Worrell, and Kevin Joseph with a mission to provide a venue for artists to develop and perfect their craft through dance, theater, spoken word, film, and live music. Through its Arts in Education Program (AEP), Creative Outlet has worked with more than 1,000 students in 25 New York public schools, providing lecture demonstrations and special concerts. The company has performed in various festivals and venues around the world, including Germany, Italy, and Mexico.
The Dinizulu Dancers, Dummers, and Singers was established in the early 1950s by Nana and Alice Dinizulu. Alice Dinizulu was a former student of and performer with Joseph Comadore, Ismay Andrews, and Asadata Dafora, among others. It was thanks to this background and through later research, study, and collaboration with artists in Africa that the present repertoire—which includes exciting dances from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa—was developed. The company has performed widely nationally and internationally, introduced countless children to traditional African culture, and performed for heads of state including President Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
An annual favorite and symbol of youth involvement in the preservation of African heritage, the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble returns to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House for its 16th consecutive year. Under the mentorship of Baba Chuck Davis, the gifted young dancers of Bedford Suyvesant Restoration Corporation celebrate both ancestral roots and the modern-day community. “Exuberant, disciplined young dancers from Bed-Stuy, the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble are a group worth following,” praised The Village Voice.
Farafina Kan: The Sound of Africa shares the history and spirit of traditional West African drumming and dancing, blended with contemporary music, such as reggae, blues, jazz, and hip-hop, to reflect the richness of the African American experience.
Forces of Nature Dance Theatre is an African and contemporary modern dance company co-founded in 1981 under the choreographic direction of artistic director Abdel R. Salaam and executive artistic director Olabamidele Husbands. Informed by African and American traditions, the company delivers a visceral, thought-provoking blend of contemporary dance, traditional West African dance, ballet, house, hip-hop, and live music, oriented around ideas of environmental health, spirituality, and survival of life on Earth.
Illstyle & Peace Productions is a multicultural dance company based in Philadelphia. Founded in 2002 by Brandon “Peace” Albright and Forrest Webb, the company fuses the movement and spirit of old school hip-hop with various styles of dance to deliver an inspirational message of individual expression to worldwide audiences of all ages. The company has heralded as “fabulous” by The New York Times.
Founded in the Bronx in 1992, Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna Fokloric & Modern Dance Company is devoted to sharing and teaching Garifuna culture though dance, music, poetry, and drama from the vast repertoire of Garifuna culture.
Formed in 2001, Asase Yaa is a group of young artists dedicated to exploring connections between African and African-American culture. Comprising musicians, dancers, and singers with training in various disciplines, the company also includes a griot committed to preserving African-American history through storytelling.
Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis, artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica, is one of the foremost teachers and choreographers of traditional African dance in America. He has traveled extensively to Africa to study with leading artists. Davis founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in 1968 and the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham, NC, in 1983. He has been a panelist for several programs of the National Endowment for the Arts and is a recipient of the AARP Certificate of Excellence, the North Carolina Dance Alliance Award, the 1990 North Carolina Artist Award, and the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He has served on the board of the North Carolina Arts Council since 1991 and in 1992 he received the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts, the state’s highest honor. In 1996, Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble were awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Dance Residency Program, a three-year initiative launched in 1994 by the New York Foundation for the Arts and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1998 he received an honorary doctorate from Medgar Evers College; he has received honorary doctorates from several universities, all of which mean a great deal to him. Most recently, Chuck Davis and DanceAfrica were cited as one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100” by the Dance Heritage Coalition.
About DanceAfrica Weeksville Heritage Center Opening Ceremony on Sat, May 19 at 10am The DanceAfrica libation ceremony, led by the Council of Elders, has been held annually at Weeksville Heritage Center. This traditional libation ceremony honors elders who have passed on to the ancestral ground and will include dancing and music by local artists. The event is free and open to the public. Weeksville Heritage Center is a historic site of great national significance. During the 19th century, the village of Weeksville was a vibrant and independent African American community. The contemporary center includes three historic structures and is scheduled for expansion in 2012 with the completion of the 19,000-square-foot Education and Cultural Arts Building. The Weeksville Heritage Center is located at 1698 Bergen Street in Brooklyn. (weeksvillesociety.org)
The celebration continues at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn) at 1pm with the annual community welcome for the visiting company featuring free performances by students from Restoration who have participated in the DanceAfrica Education program.
Each year, the free outdoor DanceAfrica Bazaar has been a gathering place for diverse crowds from all five boroughs of New York and the tri-state area, attracting an estimated 30,000 people throughout the weekend. The DanceAfrica Bazaar includes nearly 300 local and international vendors, transforming the streets surrounding BAM into a global marketplace of African, Caribbean, and African American food, fashion, artifacts, jewelry, and crafts. The Village Voice has declared it “the boldest party in town” and The New York Times has called it “a colorful kickoff for the summer street festival season.” The Bazaar features entertainment for families, including face painting and crafts at the Children’s Village.
The Bazaar takes place Saturday, May 26, 12–10pm and Sunday & Monday, May 27 & 28, 12–8pm on Ashland Place (between Fulton St & Hanson Pl) and in the GGMC & Impark parking lots. Admission is free and times are subject to change.
Members of the visiting companies, along with Baba Chuck Davis, lead two dance workshops in the BAMcafé (30 Lafayette Ave). A family workshop, for children and adults, will be held on Sunday, May 27, 11am–12:15pm, followed by an adult workshop on Monday, May 28, 11am–12:30pm for people with intermediate to advanced dance experience. Family workshop fees are $10 for adults ($5 for ages 15 and under), and adult workshop fees are $12. Visit BAM.org or call 718.636.4130 x1 for details. Space is limited. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required.
About BAMcafé Live DanceAfrica 2012 programming Fri, May 18 at 9pm Brooklyn Arts Council Presents Half the Sky Festival: Jazz Women Fusing Forms Alsarah & The Nubatones from the Sudan perform an evocative mix of Middle Eastern and East African music; Moroccan-born Malika Zarra combines a breathtaking range of African and other traditions through songs in Berber, Moroccan Arabic, French, and English.
Fri, May 25 at 10pm Mason-Jam-Ja Band A renowned authority on Yoruba culture and religion, as well as a percussionist and composer, John Mason is helping to expand the improvisational vocabulary of spirituals, blues, rap, and more with the musical languages of West Africa. Mason and his band will perform an assortment of up-tempo acoustic numbers that bridge traditions and continents.
Sat, May 26 at 10pm Black Rock Coalition Orchestra Salute to Don Cornelius & Soul Train + Late-Night Dance Party The Black Rock Coalition Orchestra returns to BAM for a tribute to late Soul Train guru Don Cornelius, performing songs by the Whispers, Shalamar, Lakeside, Dynasty, Babyface, Midnight Star, Carrie Lucas, and other artists from the Solar (formerly Soul Train) Records catalog. A dance party follows, with DJ Idlemind spinning Soul Train classics well into the wee hours.
About FilmAfrica at BAMcinématek This year’s cinematic companion to the 35th annual DanceAfrica 2012 runs from May 25 to 28 and features films from Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and special guests Akin Omotoso and Daniel Cattier. The series includes Lionel Rogosin’s recently re-released apartheid-era classic Come Back, Africa, Michel Ocelot’s Tales of the Night—a special children’s film screening in 3-D—and selections from the African Film Festival’s Traveling Series.
BAM Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Ave) Tickets: $12 per screening for adults; $9 for seniors 65 and over and children under 12; $9 for students under 25 with valid ID (Monday–Thursday, except holidays); $7 BAM Cinema Club Members Tickets available by phone at 718.777.FILM or by visiting BAM.org
Fri, May 25 at 2, 6:50pm A Trip to Algiers (2010) Directed by Abdelkrim Bahloul, Algeria/France. A young woman loses everything during the war for Algeria’s independence in 1962. When a Frenchman who is leaving the country offers her and her children his former home, an unscrupulous government official tries to it away.
Fri, May 25 at 4:30, 9:15pm One Way, a Tuareg Journey (2010) Directed by Fabio Caramaschi, Italy/Niger. This inspirational documentary chronicles a separated family’s slow, fractured emigration from Niger to Italy and the adversity and opportunities they find there. With Lezare (2010) Directed by Zelalem Woldemariam Ezare, Ethiopia. This beautifully shot film tells the touching story of a homeless boy in a small village in Ethiopia.
Sat, May 26 at 2, 6:50pm* Man on Ground (2011) Directed by Akin Omotoso This bold and exacting portrayal of rising xenophobia in South Africa follows a young Nigerian living in the Johannesburg refugee tenements who disappears during an uprising of violent riots against immigrants. In the span of a single night, his brother, on a short visit from London, tries to elucidate the mystery. *Q&A with Omotoso
Sat, May 26 at 4:30, 9:30pm Come Back, Africa (1959) Directed by Lionel Rogosin Rogosin (On the Bowery) directs this chronicle of the life of Zachariah, a black South African living under the rule of the harsh apartheid government in 1959.
Sun, May 27 at 3, 9pm Kinshasa Symphony (2010) Directed by Claus Wischmann & Martin Baer, DRC/Germany Two-hundred musicians playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the Congo! This powerful film takes a fascinating look at the Congolese Symphony Orchestra to tell a larger story about the Congo and the power of music.
Sun, May 27 at 5pm* Kongo: 50 Years of Independence of Congo (2010) Directed by Daniel Cattier Drawing on the region’s historiography and using the latest methods of docudrama filmmaking, Kongo is a documentary series in three parts that offers an original and new perspective on the colonization of the Congo, the largest country in Central Africa. *Q&A with Cattier
Mon, May 28 at 2*, 4:30*, 6:50, 9:15pm Tales of the Night (in 3-D) (2011) Directed by Michel Ocelot In this tapestry of six exotic fables from renowned animation auteur Ocelot, viewers are whisked off to enchanted lands full of dragons, werewolves, captive princesses, sorcerers, and enormous talking bees. Ocelot’s (Kirikou and the Sorceress) first foray into 3-D continues the shadow-puppet style of Princes and Princesses, with black silhouetted characters set against exquisitely detailed Day-Glo backgrounds bursting with color and kaleidoscopic patterns. In English with French subtitles. *Subtitles read aloud
Bloomberg is the BAM 2012 Winter/Spring sponsor.
DanceAfrica 2012 is part of Diverse Voices at BAM sponsored by Time Warner Inc. Target is the presenting sponsor of BAM Community Access to the Arts. Support for DanceAfrica 2012 and BAMcafé Live is provided by Con Edison. .
Essence Music Festival is the cultural partner of DanceAfrica.
FilmAfrica is part of Global Connections at BAM sponsored by MetLife Foundation. Major support for dance at BAM provided by The Harkness Foundation for Dance with additional support from Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation.
The Wall Street Journal is the title sponsor of BAM Rose Cinemas and BAMcinématek.
Programming in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House is supported and endowed by The Howard Gilman Foundation.
Winter/Spring Season supporters: Bank of America; Chase;; The Howard Gilman Foundation; The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation; mcgarrybowen; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Donald R. Mullen Jr.; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts; The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; Mikhail Prokhorov Fund; The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation; The SHS Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Skirball Foundation; The Starr Foundation; Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund; Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Foundation; Steve Tisch Foundation; The Winston Foundation, Inc.; Friends of BAM and BAM Cinema Club.
Sovereign Bank is the BAM Marquee sponsor. Yamaha is the official piano for BAM. R/GA is the BAM.org sponsor. New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge is the official hotel for BAM..
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, BAM Rose Cinemas, and BAMcafé are located in the Peter Jay Sharp Building at 30 Lafayette Avenue (between St Felix Street and Ashland Place) in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. BAM Harvey Theater is located two blocks from the main building at 651 Fulton Street (between Ashland and Rockwell Places). Both locations house Greenlight Bookstore at BAM kiosks. BAM Rose Cinemas is Brooklyn’s only movie house dedicated to first-run independent and foreign film and repertory programming. BAMcafé, operated by Great Performances, is open for dining prior to BAM Howard Gilman Opera House evening performances. BAMcafé also features an eclectic mix of spoken word and live music for BAMcafé Live on Friday and Saturday nights with a special BAMcafé Live menu available starting at 6pm.
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue (2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins St for Harvey Theater)â€¨ D, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenueâ€¨Train: Long Island Railroad to Atlantic Terminal Bus: B25, B26, B41, B45, B52, B63, B67 all stop within three blocks of BAMâ€¨ Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAMâ€¨â€¨For ticket and BAMbus information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
… the Republican way So racism is okay but disrespecting … appealed to nativism and racism. It took the horrific … that does not fully embrace AfricanAmericans and Latinos in the … illegal immigration and fighting racism are not mutually exclusive. … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson appeared on SiriusXM’s Town Hall hosted by Armstrong Williams earlier this week. Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM hide caption
Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson appeared on SiriusXM’s Town Hall hosted by Armstrong Williams earlier this week.
Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM
When it comes to poor Americans, the Trump administration has a message: Government aid is holding many of them back. Without it, many more of them would be working.
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney said as much when presenting the administration’s budget plan this week to cut safety net programs by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years. The administration also wants to tighten work requirements for those getting aid, such as food stamps, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
“If you’re on food stamps, and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,” he said.
On Wednesday night, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson — whose budget to help low-income households would be cut by more than $6 billion next year — added his own thoughts. He said in a radio interview that “poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind.”
Carson — who himself grew up in poverty to become a widely acclaimed neurosurgeon — said people with the “right mind set” can have everything taken away from them, and they’ll pull themselves up. He believes the converse is true as well. “You take somebody with the wrong mind-set, you can give them everything in the world (and) they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom,” Carson said.
Anti-poverty advocates say both Carson and Mulvaney are fundamentally wrong, that most low-income people would work if they could. And many of them already do. They just don’t make enough to live on.
“All Americans, but particularly one of the top federal anti-poverty officials, should understand that the main causes of U.S. poverty are economic, not mental,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. “Overwhelming facts and data prove that the main causes of poverty are low wages, too few jobs, and an inadequate safety net – not some sort of personal attitude problem.”
He and other advocates say the image of millions of able-bodied people sitting around collecting checks doesn’t match reality. About two-thirds of the 42 million people who get SNAP benefits are elderly, disabled or children. A majority of SNAP families with kids have at least one person who’s working, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Olivia Golden, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), says one of the biggest obstacles to getting people off government aid is the lack of decent-paying jobs.
“Two-thirds of poor children live with an adult who’s working,” she says. “So working is no guarantee of being above poverty.”
Golden says Carson’s suggestion that poor people are lazy or somehow at fault is “an idea that through American history has been an excuse for really bad policy decisions.” She cited lack of investments in education, and says the comments are especially egregious given the president’s budget proposal. It calls for steep cuts in education, health care, job training and other supports for low-income Americans.
Golden argues that, rather than discourage work, government support — such a food aid and health care — can encourage people to seek and keep jobs by helping them to stabilize their lives. She says it’s easier to work if you aren’t worried about being hungry or sick.
Michael Tanner of the libertarian Cato Institute also thinks Carson is wrong about poverty being a state of mind. “Poverty is being poor,” says Tanner.
But he agrees that government benefits can sometimes be a disincentive to working, because people make an economic decision about whether they’ll be better off if they take a job. By the time they calculate the loss of benefits, taxes they’ll have to pay and the cost of employment — such as child care and transportation — it’s often not worth it.
He also thinks that some people stuck in poverty do make bad choices — such as dropping out of school or getting pregnant — that worsen their economic outlook.
But Tanner says many poor Americans have to deal with conditions that are not of their making and prevent them from getting ahead. He thinks the answer isn’t cutting government aid, but dealing with the barriers to work, including a lack of education and a criminal justice system that leaves many — especially African-American men — with criminal records that prevent them from getting hired.
Joel Berg thinks raising the minimum wage would also help, as would making housing more affordable for low-income families. The Trump budget would cut some of these programs, overseen by HUD Secretary Carson.
In presenting the budget, OMB Director Mulvaney did offer this assurance for those people who are getting government aid. “We are going to do everything we can to help you find a job that you are suited to and a job that you can use to help take care of you, yourself, and your family,” he said.
He didn’t provide details other than to add, “If you’re in this country and you want to work, there’s good news, because Donald Trump is President and we’re going to get 3 percent growth, and we’re going to give you the opportunity to go back to work.”
Mulvaney also promised that the administration would not kick “anybody off of any program who really needs it … we have plenty of money in this country to take care of the people who need it.”
Defining just who does and doesn’t “need it” will likely be a big part of the debate as Congress considers what to do with the president’s plans.
BAYWATCH Another case of “Who needed this?” Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron lead the cast in an action-comedy based on the eponymous TV series and directed by Seth Gordon. Expect callbacks and references, slow-motion running, red swimsuits, and a general sense of having wasted money on your cinema ticket. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Rhuaridh Marr)
BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB: ADIOS Lucy Walker’s documentary serves as a follow-up 18 years after Wim Wenders’ original helped spark a renaissance in Cuban dance music and launch international careers for many of the featured musicians. Adios follows the five original band members from the first film as they embark on one final international tour ending in their Havana hometown. Opens Friday, May 26. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 ★★★½ Guardians maintains the scrappy, jokesy, lovable nature that made the first film such a huge success — and such a breath of fresh air compared with the slightly stale, formulaic nature of Marvel’s other franchises. With its bold colors, brilliant soundtrack and wonderful array of performances, it was a necessary jolt of adrenaline to the cinematic superhero canon. But three years and a bigger budget later, the originality has diminished. What’s here isn’t fresh, though it’s still very palatable. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES While there’s debate about what exactly the trailer means when it states “The Final Adventure Begins,” the tone is undeniably intriguing. Directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, the latest in the series seems to be a darker affair than the recent, silly sequels, which is something we’re very much on board with. Javier Bardem stars as Captain Armando Salazar, a powerful and merciless ghost pirate who stalks Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow across the seas. If Disney gets this right, it could breathe new life into the franchise. Opens Friday, May 26. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)
UNION MARKET DRIVE-IN: HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS Union Market readies the third round of its monthly warm weather Drive-In Series focused on Disney’s unexpected hit in 1989, a sci-fi comedy directed by Joe Johnston and starring Rick Moranis as an inventor whose experiment on his kids goes awry. You don’t have to have a car to take it all in — just grab a viewing spot in the free picnic area. Food and beer are available, delivered to you or your car window by the DC Rollergirls. Friday, June 2. Gates at 6 p.m., with the movie starting at sunset — around 8:15 p.m. In the parking lot at Union Market, 1305 5th St. NE. Free for walk-ups or $10 per car. Call 800-680-9095 or visit unionmarketdc.com.
WASHINGTON JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL Now in its 27th year, the festival presents traditional film screenings as well as related cultural and educational programs at six different theaters. Six films at this year’s festival are “Rated LGBTQ,” exploring sexuality, gender and identity on screen: Cabaret, the hit 1972 adaptation of the stage musical classic starring Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli, which screens Saturday, May 27, at 12:30 p.m., at AFI Silver Theatre; Family Commitments, an outrageously quirky comedy about a Jewish-Arab same-sex wedding, in its Mid-Atlantic Premiere Saturday, May 27, at 6:30 p.m., at Edlavitch DCJCC; and In Between, Maysaloun Hamoud’s remarkable feature debut about three Arab-Israeli women sharing an apartment in the vibrant heart of Tel Aviv and struggling with contemporary and traditional pressures, which screens Sunday, May 28, at 1:45 p.m., at AFI Silver Theatre. Landmark E Street Cinema. Festival runs to Sunday, May 28. Tickets are $14.95 for regular screenings. Visit wjff.org.
ACT@25! Launched 25 years ago during DC Black Pride, the African-American Collective Theater celebrates its silver anniversary with a special event, a reader’s theater festival featuring 25 LGBTQ-themed short plays offered in three distinct programs. Program A, at 3 p.m., is an “early, after church/brunch show” with primarily new and seldom-seen works; Program B, at 6 p.m., is a before- or after-dinner show, “a little naughty and bawdy”; and Program C, at 9 p.m., is a late-night show for the “grown and sexy.” Sunday, May 28. Undercroft Theater of Mount Vernon United Methodist Church,, 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Tickets are $15 per program, or $30 for a pass to all three. Call 240-582-0050 or visit actat25.homesteadcloud.com.
BUILDING THE WALL Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle, All The Way) imagines a future where President Trump is able to persevere with his plans to barricade the southern U.S. border. Building The Wall focuses on a historian interviewing the supervisor of a private prison as he awaits sentencing for carrying out a policy that has escalated into a violent and chaotic mess, with millions of undocumented immigrants rounded up and detained in overflowing private prisons and makeshift incarceration camps. Michael Dove directs Forum Theatre’s production, part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere. Closes Saturday, May 27. Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, 8641 Colesville Road. Call 301-588-8279 or visit forum-theatre.org.
FEAR EATS THE SOUL A stage adaptation of eccentric German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s emotionally powerful drama about star-crossed lovers makes its U.S. premiere and closes out the 30th Anniversary season of internationally focused Scena Theatre. Centered on timely topics such as race, immigration and class, Helen Hayes Award winner Nanna Ingvarsson plays Emmi, an older German woman who falls in love with a younger Moroccan migrant worker, to the appall of everyone around them. To June 4. Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 202-399-7993 or visit scenatheatre.org.
HIR Shana Cooper directs Taylor Mac’s audacious, uproarious black comedy billed as “a kitchen-sink drama covered in glitter.” The story focuses on an Iraqi war veteran who returns to his childhood home and discovers that his family has transformed, from a formerly timid mother out to subvert the patriarchy, to a sister who is now a genderqueer anarchist, to a father who now wears clown makeup. Emily Townley and Mitch Hebert are part of the cast. To June 18. Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
IN THE HEIGHTS The U.S. Spanish-language premiere of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway hit sizzles with the kind of urban energy you would expect from its setting in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Performed in Spanish with English surtitles. Extended in a sold-out run to May 28. GALA Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW. Tickets are $40 to $60. Call 202-234-7174 or visit galatheatre.org.
JAZZ A world premiere stage adaptation of Tony Morrison’s exhilarating novel, following a couple who moves from the Virginia countryside to Harlem at the turn of the 20th century as the genre of jazz was just beginning to flourish. Shanesia Davis is Violet and Leon Addison Brown is Joe, whose later interactions with another woman sets off a series of violent, unforgivable acts. Adapted by Nambi E. Kelley and featuring a cast of 10, including an on-stage Trombonist. Opens Friday, May 26. To June 25. Baltimore Center Stage, 700 North Calvert St., Baltimore. Tickets are $20 to $69. Call 410-332-0033 or visit centerstage.org.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera about Jesus gets a “sleek, modern” makeover in a Signature Theatre production helmed by Joe Calarco and starring Nicholas Edwards. The cast includes Signature standouts Natascia Diaz as Mary, Sherri L. Edelen as King Herod, and Bobby Smith as Pontius Pilate. To July 2. Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
KALEIDOSCOPE Florence Lacey stars in the latest “Bold New Work” world premiere from partners, in life and in show, Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith (The Turn of the Screw). Presented by Creative Cauldron, the musical focuses on a legendary Broadway performer and her comeback one-woman show, foiled as she forgets her prepared anecdotes and attempts to make up new ones on the fly, as the insidious signs of Alzheimer’s become increasingly apparent. Closes Sunday, May 28. ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Ave. in Falls Church. Tickets are $20 to $30. Call 703-436-9948 or visit creativecauldron.org.
LAURA BUSH KILLED A GUY Billed as a smart, surreal and surprising reexamination of the Bush years, upstart local theater collective Klunch offers a world premiere written by its artistic director Ian Allen. John Vreeke directs rising local actress Lisa Hodsoll in a one-woman show that imagines the former First Lady ruminating on killing a guy in 1963 and reminiscing about her Texas childhood and married life with George W. To June 4. Caos on F, 923 F St. NW. Tickets are $25 to $35. Call 202-215-6993 or visit theklunch.com.
MACBETH The provocative Tony-nominated director Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed) helms a production of the Bard’s exploration of murderous ambition, fiendish equivocation, and a love of terrifying intimacy. Shakespeare Theatre Company regular Jesse J. Perez takes on the titular role alongside Nikkole Salter as Lady MacBeth. With Naomi Jacobson, Tim Getman and David Bishins. Closes Sunday, May 28. Sidney Harman Hall, Harman Center for the Arts, 610 F St. NW. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
MASTER CLASS Ilona Dulaski stars in Terrence McNally’s love letter to opera great Maria Callas in a new production at Virginia’s MetroStage. Ayana Reed is the Second Soprano (Sharon), a role made famous by Audra McDonald, and Joseph Walsh plays Accompanist while serving as music director. Emily Honzel, Ayana Reed, Daniel Noone and Michael Sharp round out the cast. Nick Olcott directs. To June 11. MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets are $55 to $60. Call 800-494-8497 or visit metrostage.org.
SIDE EFFECTS Michael Milligan offers a timely, unblinking look at health care in America with two new plays each told from different perspectives. Mercy Killers focuses on those seeking care, such as a blue-collar American grappling with his red state ideals and his sickly wife, while Side Effects follows a doctor struggling to practice medicine as bureaucratic pressures collide with his professional and personal responsibilities. Taffety Punk Theatre Company produces the two plays in repertory to June 3. Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE. Tickets are $15. Call 202-355-9441 or visit taffetypunk.com.
NOISES OFF A love letter to the thrilling unpredictability of the stage, this famed farce by Tony-winning British playwright Michael Frayn is revived in an Everyman Theatre production directed by Vincent M. Lancisi. Deborah Hazlett and Danny Gavigan lead a cast of eight resident company members portraying a cast of bumbling British thespians, whose backstage buffoonery during a run of the play-within-a-play Nothing On steals the show. You can expect wall-to-wall wackiness, carefully choreographed hijinks and sight gags — including flying sardines — from a comedy that the famed former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich once called “the funniest play written in my lifetime.” To June 18. Everyman Theatre, 315 West Fayette St. Baltimore. Tickets are $43 to $64. Call 410-752-2208 or visit everymantheatre.org.
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR Keegan Theatre harkens back to its Irish roots with a comedy by John Patrick Shanley that poses the question, is it ever too late to take a chance on love? The focus is on neighbors whose families have been squabbling for years over a patch of land in rural Ireland. Mark A. Rhea directs Rena Cherry Brown, Susan Marie Rhea, Brandon McCoy, and Kevin Adams. Closes Sunday, May 28. Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 202-265-3768 or visit keegantheatre.com.
PROOF With echoes of the recent Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, Proof explores the uphill climb a woman faces in gaining recognition in the male-dominated field of mathematics, even when she has genetics on her side. Dawn Ursula and Craig Wallace star in David Auburn’s 2001 Tony-winning play by David Auburn. To June 18. Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
SHE SPEAKS! Suburban Maryland community theater troupe the Rude Mechanicals presents an ambitious production subtitled “Shakespeare’s Women in Their Own Words.” Leanne Stump helms a new work that laces together the voices of the most memorable women written by the Bard, from Beatrice’s sharp wit to Juliet’s broken heart. “Though the men take the title, the women oft steal the show,” goes a tagline for the production, which goes even further by letting the “fairer sex” run away with it. Opens Thursday, June 1, at 8 p.m. Weekends to June 17. Greenbelt Arts Center, 123 Centerway. Greenbelt, Md. Tickets are $22. Call 301-441-8770 or visit rudemechanicals.com.
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS Ten years ago, Constellation Theatre Company launched its first season with a production of Mary Zimmerman’s entrancing adaptation of The Arabian Nights. Now, Founding Artistic Director Allison Arkell Stockman closes out the 10th anniversary season by revisiting the company’s roots and reimagining the show, once again with live music by Tom Teasley. Veronica del Cerro leads the ensemble as famed storyteller Scheherazade. To June 4. Source, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets $20 to $45. Call 202-204-7741 or visit constellationtheatre.org.
THE FATHER Ted Van Griethuysen stars as an 80-year-old man whose world starts unraveling in an original and moving play from Florian Zeller, one of France’s most prolific contemporary playwrights, translated by two-time Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton. The Father won a Moliere Award, the French equivalent of the Tony, in 2014. Kate Eastwood Norris, Caroline Dubberly, Erika Rose, Manny Buckley, and Daniel Harray also star. David Muse directs. To June 18. Studio Theatre, 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Synetic Theater’s Founding Artistic Director Paata Tsikurishvili brings his mind-bending, cinematic style to Victor Hugo’s gothic, heartbreaking epic — relayed, like many Synetic productions, in wordless fashion, stripped of Hugo’s dialogue. Vato Tsikurishvili is Quasimodo, Phillip Fletcher is Frollo, and Irina Kavsadze is Esmeralda. To June 11. Synetic Theater, 1800 South Bell St., Arlington. Tickets are $35 to $60. Call 800-494-8497 or visit synetictheater.org.
TIMON OF ATHENS Sparing no expense on lavish parties, expensive gifts and charity, the abundantly generous Timon suffers a downturn of fortune and friendship in Shakespeare’s tragic satire. Director Robert Richmond sets the action in modern times, where technology has taken over and high finance takes place online. Ian Merrill Peakes stars in the final production of Folger Theatre’s 25th anniversary season. To June 11. Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $35 to $75. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu.
ULYSSES ON BOTTLES The culmination of its second season, Mosaic Theater Company presents the 2017 Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival in the 50th year since the Six Day War and the start of the Occupation. The festival launches with Israeli playwright Gilad Evron’s poetic and poignant allegory about an Israeli-Arab ex-teacher’s attempts to sail into Gaza on a raft made of plastic bottles. Serge Seiden directs Michael Kevin Darnall as Ulysses, an anonymous schoolteacher locked in an Israeli prison for a fanciful attempt to smuggle Russian literature to the children of Gaza, and Matthew Boston as an attorney assigned to defend him. Sarah Marshall, Elizabeth Pierotti and Chris Genebach round out the ensemble cast of Ulysses on Bottles, as translated by Evan Fallenberg. To June 11. Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $60. Call 202-399-7993 or visit mosaictheater.org.
AUDRA MCDONALD Already showered with more Tonys than any other actress in Broadway history, McDonald arrives at Strathmore to display the range of productions she’s been featured in — from The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess to Ragtime to Master Class to, most recently, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, the Billie Holiday tribute she will revive in London’s West End this summer. Also known from her work on TV, principally as a lead character on ABC’s Private Practice, McDonald long ago adopted a Twitter handle that reflects her staunch support for marriage equality — @AudraEqualityMC. “Certainly, I’m a child, a product of what came because of civil rights,” she told Metro Weekly. “Without civil rights I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do half the things I’ve done. And so I feel it’s just my duty to do whatever I can to help push it along to get marriage equality for everybody.” Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $45 to $105. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
BLACK MASALA D.C.’s nine-piece Balkan and funk band consists of members from Thievery Corporation and is focused on having fun both on record — including 2015’s I Love You Madly — and live. Next up is a performance as part of Multiflora Productions’ free monthly “Ivy City Live” programming at a New Orleans-themed complex. Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewing sponsors the event with $5 seasonal brews all night. Thursday, June 1, at 8 p.m. Big Chief, 2002 Fenwick St. NE. Free. Call 202-465-4241 or visit blackmasala.com.
BROODS Brother-sister duo Georgia and Caleb Nott are the reigning young pop act from New Zealand — aside from Lorde, who’s a co-writer on one of the strong synth-pop songs (“Heartlines”) on Broods’ smashing sophomore set Conscious released last summer. Swedish sensation Tove-Lo also shows up on “Freak of Nature,” dueting with Georgia, whose breathy voice is similar to Ellie Goulding. The Kiwis offered an extensive U.S. tour last year, including a stop at the 9:30 Club. But if you missed that, you get another chance — though you’ll have to journey to Baltimore. Tuesday, June 6, at 8 p.m. Ram’s Head Live, 20 Market Place. Tickets are $22 in advance, or $25 day-of. Call 410-244-1131 or visit ramsheadlive.com.
CAPITAL JAZZ FEST As much about pop and R&B/soul as it is jazz, this annual three-day festival returns to Merriweather and kicks off Friday, June 2, with gates at 6:30 p.m., for performances by Charlie Wilson and Robin Thicke. Highlights to come Saturday, June 3, include Corinne Bailey Rae, Jaheim, El Debarge, Avery*Sunshine, Pieces of a Dream and Kelly Price, while Sunday, June 4, offers George Benson, Anthony Hamilton, Chris Botti, Sheila E, Loose Ends, Maysa and the headlining hunk from this year’s DC Black Pride, rapper Tank. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Tickets are $64.50 to $115. Call 800-551-SEAT or visit capitaljazz.com.
COLOR PALETTE Though a monthly series co-presented by D.C.-based podcast and website Hometown Sounds, the Kennedy Center presents this local synth-rock band comprised of Jay Nemeyer, Joshua Hunter, Matt Hartenau, Rogerio Naressi and Maryjo Mattea. Color Palette tours in support of its latest release, Live at Bender Arena, a four-track EP drawn from a performance on the campus of American University. Tuesday, May 30, at 6 p.m. Millennium Stage. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
CONGRESSIONAL CHORUS: MUSIC WITHOUT BORDERS The 160 voices from this family of choruses will unite for the 30th season closer, a diverse celebration focused on the power of music, the international language, to tear down the walls that divide nations. The centerpiece of the concert is the D.C. premiere of Calling All Dawns by Grammy-winning Chinese-American composer Christopher Tin. A 12-movement song cycle in 12 languages, this lush, cinematic masterwork is inspired by musical traditions from every corner of our planet and includes texts drawn from both sacred and secular sources, from Japanese haiku to Portuguese poetry, the Latin mass to Maori proverbs. Also on tap is Ethan Sperry’s a capella choral arrangement of A.R. Rahman’s Oscar- and Grammy-winning song “Jai Ho!” from Slumdog Millionaire. Saturday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m. National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 202-347-2635 or visit congressionalchorus.org.
FIFTH HARMONY Dubbed “America’s most popular girl group” by Rolling Stone, the former X Factor contestants come to Wolf Trap to perform from their catchy repertoire of hits including “Work From Home,” “Worth It” and “That’s My Girl.” Saturday, May 27, at 8 p.m. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $35 to $65. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
GAY MEN’S CHORUS: AND THE TONY GOES TO… “You might say the gay men’s chorus singing Broadway, what else is new?” Yet Thea Kano of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington explains that for its spring concert, the group isn’t just singing Broadway. A concept conceived by the chorus’s longtime stage director John Moran, who died last year, the Tony-themed show traces the history of gays and gay issues in the musical theater. It all started with the death of Judy Garland in 1969. “That was, of course, the impetus for the LGBTQ movement,” Kano says, “but it was also the impetus for gay [actors and characters] showing up on the Broadway stage.” That same year ushered in what is touted as the first openly gay character on Broadway, the flamboyant gay villain in Andre Previn and Alan Jay Lerner’s musical Coco. Later came Seesaw, a musical about a gay choreographer that earned its star Tommy Tune a Tony in 1974, followed the next year by the Tony-winning blockbuster A Chorus Line with two more gay characters. Frank Shutts directs and Craig Cipollini and James Ellzy co-choreograph the concert featuring the full chorus, the GenOUT Chorus, the 17th Street Dance and vocal ensembles Potomac Fever and Seasons of Love. Saturday, June 3, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 4, at 3 p.m. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $25 to $65. Call 202-888-0050 or visit gmcw.org.
JMSN A few years ago Usher proclaimed Albanian-American singer-songwriter Christian Berishaj, better known as JMSN, as “his favorite new act.” Yet the music of the prolific alt-R&B/blue-eyed soul artist from Michigan has only gotten better over time. A kindred spirit of the Weeknd, drawing obvious influence from Prince and Radiohead, to name two, JMSN — pronounced like the Irish whiskey brand — returns to D.C. to support his fourth solo set, Whatever Makes You Happy. Tuesday, May 30. Doors at 7 p.m. 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
JOHN PIZZARELLI John Pizzarelli has established himself as one of the prime interpreters of the Great American Songbook and early rock and pop, putting jazz guitar spins on tunes from Rodgers, Gershwin, Lennon and McCartney, and Jobim. But Nat “King” Cole is his biggest inspiration. Thursday, June 1, through Sunday, June 4, at 8 and 10 p.m. Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $45, plus $12 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.
OTTMAR LIEBERT & LUNA NEGRA A German guitarist and songwriter performs with his band original Spanish-influenced New Age instrumental music. Liebert’s new album Slow celebrates the positive impact on heart rate and blood pressure that some studies have suggested can result from listening to what he calls “slow music,” otherwise known as easy listening or smooth jazz. Friday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $35. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT Now in its 28th year, this concert on the U.S. Capitol grounds, airing live on PBS, features the National Symphony Orchestra led by Jack Everly performing patriotic classics. Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds) and Gary Sinise (CSI: New York) co-host for the 12th year, and Colin L. Powell also returns for a special tribute to our men and women in uniform. Other featured performers this year include Laurence Fishburne, Renee Fleming, Vanessa Williams, Auli’i Cravalho, Scotty McCreery, Five for Fighting, John Ortiz, Christopher Jackson, Ana Ortiz, Ronan Tynan and Russell Watson. Sunday, May 29, at 8 p.m. U.S. Capitol Building, West Lawn. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit pbs.org/memorialdayconcert.
THE SELDOM SCENE Formed over 40 years ago in Bethesda, the progressive bluegrass band Seldom Scene remains especially popular in its hometown region. They return to Alexandria’s seated show palace to usher in Memorial Day. Sunday, May 28, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $25. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
DANCEAFRICA DC: 30TH ANNIVERSARY Dance Place hosts this annual celebration paying tribute to the vibrancy of African heritage through dance, music, visual arts, food, clothing and crafts. The core of the event is a African Marketplace, where vendors sell food and wares on the street in front of the venue and local dance groups offer performances inside and out. Companies participating include Soul in Motion, Coyaba Dance Theater, Dance Place Step Team, KanKouran West African Dance Co., Sankofa Dance Theater, Ezibu Muntu and Farafina Kan. DanceAfrica also features a series of Master Classes, launching with one by Assane Konte of KanKouran on Tuesday, May 30, at 6:30 p.m. Marketplace hours are Friday, June 2, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4, from 12 to 7 p.m. Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets for stage performances are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and $16 for Master Classes. Call 202-269-1600 or visit danceplace.org.
THE WASHINGTON BALLET: FRONTIER The Washington Ballet premieres a commission by choreographer Ethan Stiefel, featuring music by Adam Crystal performed by the Washington Ballet Orchestra conducted by Martin West. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy and his aspirations for America to be a leader of artistic, cultural and intellectual excellence, Stiefel’s work is performed as part of a JFK Centennial Celebration program also including works by Antony Tudor and Sir Frederick Ashton. Thursday, May 25, and Friday, May 26, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 27, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are $25 to $140. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG A rare opportunity to catch the comedy and acting legend in an intimate setting for her thought-provoking commentary including a Q&A with the audience. From The Color Purple and Ghost to The View today, Goldberg has shown her versatility as an actress, comedian and talk show host and is part of the elite group of artists who have won Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony Awards. Saturday, May 27, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $65 to $130. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
AMENDING AMERICA Featuring more than 50 original documents from the National Archives, this exhibit highlights the remarkably American story of how we have amended, or attempted to amend, the Constitution in order to form “a more perfect union.” Of course it all started 226 years ago when the Bill of Rights was ratified, addressing some of the most pressing issues of the day that are still very much timely. Since then, there have been 11,000 proposed amendments — but only 17 ratified. Through Sept. 4. Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum, Constitution Avenue at 9th Street NW. NW. Call 202-357-5000 or visit archives.gov/museum.
ART14 SPRING 2017 SHOW: MATT CORRADO, KELLY TOWLES Recent works by two Washington artists are featured as part of an ongoing series at Coldwell Banker Dupont/Logan office, organized by realtor Ericka S. Black. Local creative collective BL_NK WORLD curates a show featuring more than 20 original paintings. Through May 31. Coldwell Banker, 1617 14th St. NW. Call 202-387-6180 or visit facebook.com/ErickaSBlackRealtor.
BLOODLINES: CURATED BY MARTINA DODD Transformer offers a group exhibition of works on paper, sculpture and performance that seek to challenge the societal norms and restraints imposed on the female form. Works in Bloodlines tow the line between fascination and repulsion in directly addressing the stigmas associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. That includes works by Samera Paz and Iman Person who use their own menstrual blood as a medium. Meanwhile, Lisa Hill’s installation references the invisible inheritance passed down from mother to offspring by reproducing the shedding, scarring and regeneration of skin on handmade paper. For the performance portion of the exhibit, Tsedaye Makonnen focuses on the intense physicality of birth with The Crowning on Thursday, May 25, at 6:30 p.m., while the queer, black and trans-media àjé collective explores the erotic complexities of menstrual blood with Cosmic Meditation on Saturday, June 3, at 8 p.m. The non-performative works are on display through June 24. Transformer, 1404 P St. NW. Call 202-483-1102 or visit transformerdc.org.
MARCIA COPPEL: CONNECT/DISCONNECT 2 A former speech pathologist, Coppel was inspired for her new series of paintings by a sign she saw at an outdoor cafe in Mexico, “Talk to Each Other. We don’t have Wi-Fi.” Some of the whimsical, colorful works in the show feature people talking to each other in cafes and at the beach, others are in their own worlds, floating in the air as well as sitting under umbrellas, and some are seated in a group with no interaction. Closes Sunday, May 28. Gallery B in Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave. NW Call 202-347-2787 or visit touchstonegallery.com.
MARKUS LUPERTZ One of Germany’s most prominent and provocative living artists is celebrated this spring and summer at two D.C. museums with two distinct but complementary displays of the neo-expressionist’s works. Taken together, the exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and the Phillips Collection mark the first in-depth U.S. survey of Lupertz’s practice, and the two museums have teamed up for a joint catalog. Evelyn Hankins curates the Hirshhorn show, Threads of History, offering an in-depth exploration of his early years and over 30 groundbreaking paintings from the ’60s and ’70s, including the 40-foot-long Westwall (Siegfried Line), on view for the first time in the U.S. Runs to Sept. 10. Hirshhorn Museum, Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Free. Call 202-633-1000 or visit hirshhorn.si.edu. Nearly 50 works are in the comprehensive survey at the Phillips curated by Dorothy Kosinski in close collaboration with Lupertz and Michael Werner and including works spanning his career, including important examples from his “dithyrambic” pictures and provocative paintings of German motifs. opens Saturday, May 27. Runs to Sept. 20. The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. Tickets $12. Call 202-387-2151 x247 or visit phillipscollection.org.
SPEAK YOUR MIND A show coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month, Virginia’s Del Ray Artisans presents works by member artists celebrating the relationship between art and the human mind as a form of nonverbal communication. Artists were challenged to express themselves and to address complex mental impressions. Opening reception is Friday, May 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. On exhibit through May 28. Del Ray Artisans Gallery, 2704 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria. Call 703-731-8802 or visit thedelrayartisans.org.
WOODCUT PRINTS: EVE STOCKTON, MATT NEUMAN Stockton’s studies in science and love of nature combine to create a contemporary and unexpected result: mesmerizing large-scale, multi-layered wood block prints representing a unique approach to a traditional process. Neuman’s current body of work focuses on color and uses a unique combination of painting and building techniques to craft abstract, geometric paintings that have a strong material and sculptural presence. Closes Sunday, May 28. Long View Gallery, 1234 9th St. NW. Call 202-232-4788 or visit longviewgallery.com.
FOOD AND DRINK
NOPA KITCHEN+BAR: $70 WEEKEND DINNER FOR TWO MENU Across from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Penn Quarter, this 160-seat American brasserie, part of the same family as Rasika, Bibiana and the Oval Room, should already be on your shortlist for brunch. On Sundays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., each diner can choose between an appetizer and entree or sandwich, as well as a special mimosa or bloody Mary, for $28 to $30 each (or $38 with bottomless classic mimosas). Now Executive Chef Matt Kuhn is working to get Nopa on your radar earlier in the weekend as well, with a new dinner menu focused on composed dishes designed for couples, whether lovers or close friends, reasonably priced at $70 for two, before tax and tip. Though the menu changes weekly, regular options include: Nopa Spring Mixed Grill, with bites of quail, fennel sausage, ribeye, red prawns and grilled asparagus, plus garlic custard and ramp salsa verde; Crispy Chesapeake Soft Shell Crabs, three jumbo crustaceans served with Old Bay sweet corn and crab succotash, smoked new potatoes and pickled ramps; and the standout Maine Lobster Bake, a whole lobster with Old Bay-seasoned kielbasa, local clams and red prawns, and sides of roasted sweet corn, pee-wee potatoes and “smoked tomato butter.” Available exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays during dinner service, 5 to 11 p.m., subject to availability. Nopa Kitchen+Bar, 800 F St. NW. Call 202-347-4667 or visit nopadc.com.
SUNDAY SUPPER BENEFIT AT UNION MARKET A Latin-inspired “Flavors of the Americas” food event celebrates community and communal dining as well as being a benefit for the James Beard Foundation’s new Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program supporting the next generation of women business leaders. Participating chefs and cocktail masters include Jose Garces (Rural Society), Amy Brandwein (Centrolina), Victor Albisu (Del Campo), Camila Arango and Tom Wellings (Bluebird Bakery), Anna Bran-Leis (DC Empanada), Giana Cavaliere (Volt), Gina Chersevani (Buffalo & Bergen), Violeta Edelman and Robb Duncan (Dolcezza), Gabriela Febres (Arepa Zone), Mario Monte, Daniella Senior and Juan Coronado (Colada Shop), Omar Rodriguez (Oyamel) and the team from Latin wine shop Grand Cata. Also whipping up concoctions at this event, initiated by Jodie W. McLean of Union Market’s parent retail company Edens, is San Francisco’s Traci Des Jardins (Jardiniere), Philadelphia’s Douglas Rodriguez (Amada de Cuba), New Orleans’s pastry chef Kelly Fields (Willa Jean) and New York’s Alex Raij and Eder Montero (El Quinto Pino) and Carolina Santos-Neves (Comodo). Sunday, June 4, at 5 p.m. Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE. Tickets are $250 per person. Call 800-680-9095 or visit unionmarketdc.com/sundaysupper.
BOOTCAMP WITH DJ BARRY HARRIS In the late ’90s and early aughts Barry Harris was known as the gay half of sensational DJ/production duo Thunderpuss (with Chris Cox), responsible for, among other bombastic dance hits, the remix of Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” that still gets regular spins at clubs the world over. Now the Canadian artist (who also had a hit with “I Beg Your Pardon” from his debut act Kon Kan) returns to D.C. to inaugurate a new party at the DC Eagle, co-presented by Meat Locker with veteran D.C./Chicago DJ Steve Henderson, who will spin an opening set. Saturday, May 27, starting at 9 p.m. DC Eagle, 3701 Benning Rd. NE. Tickets are $15. Call 202-347-6025 or visit dceagle.com.
OTTER CROSSING FEAT. THE SPREADLOVE PROJECT, STRIKESTONE! DJ Nav and Jett Chandon are the featured guests at the first of two house-loving, hirsute-oriented Otter Crossing parties in June. The focus is on an incredibly bouncy, happy variant of dance music minted in the U.K. in the ’90s. The duo have launched a SpreadLove Project DC “to retain the spirit and energy of the true underground sound of garage music.” DJ StrikeStone! kicks off the party with an explosion of disco and techno. Friday, June 2, starting at 10 p.m. Green Lantern, 1335 Green Ct. NW. Cover is $5. Call 202-347-4533 or visit facebook.com/ottercrossing.
ABOVE & BEYOND
KENNEDY CENTER OPEN HOUSE: CELEBRATING JFK AT 100 As part of a year-long centennial celebration of the life and legacy of its namesake, the Kennedy Center throws its doors open for a day of free performances, activities and events. Among the highlights on tap: the interactive hip-hop show for young audiences “All The Way Live!,” a National Symphony Orchestra instrument “petting zoo,” “Boogie Woogie Piano Man” Daryl Davis with a tribute to Chuck Berry, D.C. Bluegrass Union and Archie Edwards Blues Foundation jam sessions, Washington National Opera “costume trunk,” storyteller Polarbear with Mouth Open, Story Jump Out, more than 300 singers for the National memorial Day Choral Festival and dance from the Washington Ballet, D.C.’s contemporary ensemble Company E, vertical pioneers Bandaloop and street movers Flexn. There will also be an outdoor skatepark and music stage Finding A Line, plus community yoga and tai chi. Saturday, May 27, from 12 to 10 p.m. Kennedy Center. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
STORY DISTRICT: OUT/SPOKEN In 2010, the organization originally known as SpeakeasyDC began holding its first LGBTQ storytelling night. “We really wanted to offer a platform for our LGBTQ performers,” Story District founder Amy Friedman told Metro Weekly in 2015. “But more importantly, be part of the dialogue that was happening at the time.” Sharing hilarious or heartfelt true stories at the seventh annual Out/Spoken: Queer, Questioning, Bold & Proud are: Robin Katcher, Mike Boyd, Elyse Hannah, Patrick McBride, Darryl Smith, Sean Wells, Rebecca Kling and Melvin Thomas. Saturday, June 4. Doors at 6 p.m. Nightclub 9:30, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $22. Call 202-265-0930 or visit storydistrict.com.
Most people were not surprised when the Chinese government roundly condemned the Dalai Lama’s visit to Ulaanbaatar in November 2016 as a “splittist” attempt to undermine Mongolia’s respect for Chinese sovereignty. However, it was curious to later read similar denunciations on a website sponsored by monks and lay people that belong to the same monastic order as His Holiness. The criticism could come as a shock for those outsiders who assume that Tibetan Buddhists are united behind the Dalai Lama.
In an article published on December 21, 2016, the website, www.dorjeshugden.com, condemned the Dalai Lama for recklessness at a time when Mongolia was in negotiations for Chinese economic assistance. In a side comment, the article compared Mongolia’s economic crisis to the growing pains attributable to the transition from being “Asia’s next golden child to an awkward binge drinking and debt-ridden teenager with behavioral issues.” After referring to previous Chinese state loans to Mongolia, the article observed that the visit had “dampened the hopes of big brother China coming to Mongolia’s aid again [emphasis added].” The visit had “plunged the Mongolians deeper into despair” because it hindered the prospects of a bail-out by Beijing. The author also claimed that the Dalai Lama showed a selfish indifference to Mongolia’s plight.
In early February, the website carried another article using the same rhetoric as it laid the blame for Mongolia’s economic woes on the doorstep of the Central Tibetan Administration – the Tibet government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India – and its “underhanded political manipulations.” That’s an odd culprit to blame for the fiscal woes of the landlocked Central Asia country. For good measure, the article also took a gratuitous slap at India for its “meager” offer to assist Mongolia with its economic problems.
The language is remarkably familiar to readers of Chinese state-owned newspapers, like China Daily. The choice of wording was clearly not aimed at winning any plaudits from Mongolians, who are outraged by patronizing attitudes seeped in Han chauvinism. Undoubtedly, the characterizations did appeal to the Communist Party of China (CPC), who thinks of itself in the righteous and benevolent terms of being an “older brother” lending a hand to its less sophisticated neighbors.
The website in question is operated by devotees of Dorje Shugden, a Tibetan Buddhist spirit that has become the flashpoint for a schism in the Gelukpa or “Yellow Hat” order. The historic roots of the schism lie in a rivalry between the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) and another highly placed lama of that era, Drakpa Gyeltsen (1619-1656). The dispute broke out in the mid-1970s as the exiled Tibetan community struggled to rebuild outside Tibet. The disagreement released deeply felt emotions that may have culminated in the 1997 murder of a high ranking Gelukpa lama and his two disciples in Dharamsala. The schism rumbles on today, producing the unusual image of Western Buddhist monks protesting the Dalai Lama with placards mocking him and denouncing his supposed perfidy. However, the controversy seems to have expanded from a theological one to the geopolitical realm. Certainly, more is going on here than meets the eye.
For a secular materialist, this saga presents an unusual blend of Buddhist metaphysics and factional squabbling that might be better suited to a novel by J.R.R. Tolkien or J.K.Rowling. Nonetheless, it is a deadly serious business that creates conflict among the global Vajrayana Buddhist community. While concrete proof is not available, the tone of some Shugden devotees evinces the possible influence of the Chinese authorities, who, in the mode of other hegemons, are likely to be fanning the flames of religious unrest for their own geopolitical objectives. This is a short-sighted policy that poses the risk of unintended consequences for China’s long-term interests.
The Historical Background for the Schism
To understand the schism, we have to examine the intricacies of Tibet’s history and theology. Tibet adopted Buddhism during the earliest days of its recorded history in the seventh century. According to Buddhist belief, the legendary Indian yogi Padma Sambhava had converted Tibetan local spirits to be protectors of Buddhism, creating the metaphysical foundation for the introduction of monasteries. This earliest form of Buddhism came to be known imprecisely but commonly as “Red Hat Buddhism.” Following the example of Padma Sambhava, its adherents endorsed an intellectual approach that rejected linear thought as well as social rules and restraints in their search for enlightenment. As a way to break through conventional thinking, the Red Hat Buddhists practiced esoteric rites that sometimes clashed with mundane morality or ordinary notions of social conduct.
In response, the Gelukpa order came into existence in the 15th century as a reform movement that emphasized monastic discipline and a scholastic understanding of the tenets of Buddhism. At its inception, it was nonsectarian, adopting treatises from a wide array of Tibetan philosophical schools. However, its members believed that some of the practices of the Red Hat Buddhists were less effective and potentially harmful for spiritual cultivation. Although it was a minor sect at first, it soon grew into importance because of the philosophical vigorousness and the strict discipline of its monks. A lineage of reincarnated lamas, later to be known as the Dalai Lamas, was a source of influential figures and learned clerics within the order.
In the 16th and early 17th century, Tibet suffered from political disunity and sectarian fighting among its Buddhist orders, though doctrinal differences among the sects were not necessarily at the core of this unrest. For centuries, Buddhist monasteries and local Tibetan nobles set up alliances for the pursuit of wealth and power, consequently clashing with others seeking the same. With the assistance of some noble clans and Mongolian military support, the Gelukpa were able to assume political authority in 1642, with the Fifth Dalai Lama as its paramount leader. This inaugurated an era of Gelukpa political dominance that only came to an end with the People Liberation Army’s arrival in Tibet in 1951.
A Personal Clash Between Lamas
The current schism originates in a feud between two highly-placed lamas in the 17th century. The legacy of the Fifth Dalai Lama looms large over Tibet history. He is remembered as a celebrated polymath and astute politician whose 44-year reign inaugurated a golden age in Tibetan civilization. Born into a Red Hat family, the ”Great Fifth” was not a Gelukpa purist. In matters of philosophical inquiry, he propounded an eclectic approach to the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Red Hat sects, and combined rituals and concepts in an ecumenical manner. He did not hesitate, however, to adopt hostile measures toward those orders or monasteries that challenged his authority or that had sided against the Gelukpa in the battles earlier that century.
The rise of the Great Fifth’s authority did not occur without factional squabbling within his own order, however. As a young child, Drakpa Gyeltsen was one of the other candidates for selection as the successor-reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama. A lifelong rival of the Great Fifth, he was a highly accomplished teacher and debater who enjoyed a strong following among Yellow Hat monks, thereby triggering the animosity of the Fifth Dalai Lama and his political supporters. These political intrigues eventually resulted in several assassination attempts against Drakpa Gyeltsen. According to legend, the besieged lama wearily told a disciple that he expected to die prematurely. If he was the victim of a murder plot, he said that his body would release a black-colored cloud of smoke in the shape of an open hand at his cremation.
The Advent of Dorje Shugden
The death of Drakpa Gyeltsen remains shrouded in mystery. He was reportedly found strangled by a khadag, a silken scarf given by the Fifth Dalai Lama in recognition of Drakpa’s victory in a debate. His supporters claimed that the Dalai Lama’s supporters arranged for his assassination while his detractors said that he committed suicide, a gravely discrediting sin in Buddhism. Later, in subsequent retellings, it was said that he died because he had been tampering with black arts of sorcery.
At his cremation, the fires yielded black smoke shaped like a hand, as predicted, whereupon his disciple pleaded with him to take revenge on his enemies. One version of the legend holds that the spirit of Drakpa Gyeltsen did not continue into the normal cycle of reincarnation on account of this plea, but instead became a wrathful spirit, filled with outrage at the injustice done to him and seeking retribution. Other versions of the legend question whether the wrathful spirit was related to Drakpa Gyeltsen at all.
After the cremation, the spirit plagued Central Tibet by inflicting droughts and spiritual disturbances, some of which were directed at the Great Fifth. He sought to exorcise the wrathful spirit but the effort failed. Finally, to spare the people of Central Tibet from further disturbances, the Gelukpa clergy placated Drakpa Gyeltsen by recognizing him as a dharma protector. (In the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, a dharma protector is a lesser spirit that protects Buddhism from its enemies and that directly participates in worldly affairs.)
The spirit became known as Dorje Shugden and was revered in Gelukpa monasteries throughout Tibet as a dharma protector for the Gelukpa against the enemies of the order. It was believed that monks initiated into the Shugden practice benefit from the spirit exerting his supernatural powers to protect and reward them. The propitiation of Shugden spread to other Gelukpa monasteries as an addition to the devotional practices for the hundreds of other deities in the Buddhist spiritual world.
As the 18th and 19th centuries wore on, some Gelukpa monasteries became more aggressive in their theological criticisms of Red Hat Buddhism, which led to violent clashes and in some instances, the forcible conversion of Red Hat monasteries to the Gelukpa order.
In the 19th century, Eastern Tibet saw the rise of the Rimé movement, which was a scholastic trend that advocated nonsectarianism and an eclectic study of Vajrayana Buddhist treatises. The movement gathered momentum and became a part of the Tibetan philosophical mosaic, pursuing a course not unlike that of the Great Fifth.
In reaction to this theological development, several high Gelukpa lamas in Lhasa reasserted the primacy and purity of Gelukpa teachings in the early 20th century by elevating Dorje Shugden to the role of the chief of the dharma protectors. An incarnate lama and Shugden devotee, the esteemed Trijang Rinpoche, later became the junior tutor of the current Dalai Lama, who was likewise initiated into the Shugden rites.
In all, Shugden worship was little more than a sidenote to the history of Vajrayana Buddhism until after the flight of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959. It co-existed, at times uneasily, with other viewpoints within Tibet’s theocratic society.
The Yellow Book and the Schism
In the aftermath of the 1959 exodus, the Tibetan clergy re-established their monasteries in India and Nepal, gradually rebuilding the institutions of their faith. At first, Shugden propitiation and the “purity” of the Gelukpa order were minor issues made less significant because of the collective revulsion felt among Tibetans about China’s excesses during the Cultural Revolution.
The dispute took on an entirely new relevance in 1975 when Zemey Rimpoche, a disciple of Trijang Rinpoche, published a manuscript titled The Yellow Book. It was written in an unabashedly sectarian manner, advocating a purist approach for the Gelukpa order and describing how Dorje Shugden had historically struck down those high-ranking Gelukpa lamas who had “contaminated” their practices by incorporating Red Hat rituals. The perspective adopted by TheYellow Book called for a purge of Red Hat practices as irredeemably tainted conduct promoted by the enemies of Buddhism, who, more precisely, were interpreted to mean the enemies of the Gelukpa order.
The Dalai Lama saw the book as a direct affront that fostered sectarian strife at a vulnerable time in the history of Tibetan civilization. One scholarly analysis interprets the arguments made in The Yellow Book as working directly against the theological theories that had formed the foundations of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s government – a combination of veneration for Red Hat saints such as Padma Sambhava, and the teachings of the Gelukpa – which were perceived by the Dalai Lama as essential for the future of the Tibetan state and society.
The Dalai Lama’s formal stance, gradually formulated throughout the 1980s, bases his opposition to Shugden worship on three reasons. First, he believes that it promotes a form of spirit propitiation that departs from the rich philosophical traditions of Vajrayana Buddhism. Second, it is an obstacle to nonsectarianism and “inter-religious understanding and harmony.” Third, the Tibet people need unity at this dire stage in their history rather than sectarian disputes among their clergy.
His Holiness has gone on to say that it is a decision for each Shugden devotee whether to agree with his views. However, he requested that “those who continue to propitiate [Shugden] not to attend his formal religious teachings, which traditionally require the establishment of a teacher-disciple relationship.” Shugden devotees may worship as they please, but His Holiness cannot be their guru for the reasons explained above.
This development caused considerable dismay among the Gelukpa clergy, many of whom had both sincerely propitiated Shugden and respectfully revered His Holiness. For Shugden devotees caught in the middle, it is said that they felt like a child witnessing a bitter fight between a mother and a father.
Other devotees, however, picked up the fight in written exchanges that grew increasingly vitriolic between the two sides. The building crescendo of hostility may have led to the unsolved murder of Geshe Lobsang Gyatso, the director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala, and his disciples in Dharamsala in 1997. The director had been the author of numerous works robustly condemning Shugden propitiation. Indian police believe that Shugden partisans might have been responsible but they had fled to China before they could be interrogated. The Shugden groups strongly deny any connection to the murder. Further, they denounced the Dalai Lama for “banning” the Shugden practice and directing discriminatory retribution against them based on their faith – an assertion that is dismissed by the Office of His Holiness.
The schism between His Holiness and the Shugden devotees began to spread globally, tenuously at first in 1997. Like other exiled Tibetan religious groups, Shugden devotees had established religious centers throughout the world to attract new adherents, who often were also recruited for anti-Dalai Lama protests. The demonstrations became increasingly aggressive and vehement whenever His Holiness visited the West, reaching a point where the protesters began to attract the attention of the mass media.
The Question of Chinese Support and the Lesson of Blowback
It is difficult to come across a neutral perspective on the Shugden controversy because most reports have been written by partisans in the schism. The nuances of the dispute are opaque to outsiders unless one is willing to delve into 400 years of Tibetan philosophy and history in order to begin to unravel contending theological aspects and the counterintuitive historical context. In this regard, this article only serves to scratch the surface of a complex problem. Moreover, there are varying shades of interpretation by the participants of the dispute. It is incorrect to suggest that the Shugden devotees are a monolith.
That said, it requires less finesse to discern the geopolitical advantage for China in supporting the Shugden devotees. In a document titled “Some Opinions on Dealing Correctly with the Gyalchen Shugden Problem” dated February 20, 2015, the Tibet Autonomous Region Party Committee described the Shugden problem as “an important front in [the CPC’s] struggle with the Dalai clique,” a clear indication that the CPC sees Shugden devotees as allies in a struggle against His Holiness (provided, of course, that the devotees tow the party line in all matters).
Certainly, journalists have suspected that the Chinese government finances overseas Shugden groups. Italian journalist Raimondo Bultrini investigated the possibility of funding coming from the United Front, an intelligence and propaganda arm of the CPC, starting in 1998. His book, The Dalai Lama and the King Demon, sets out his findings but its title also points to his own bias. In 2015, three prominent Reuters journalists published a report asserting broad Chinese support for the devotees but admitted that they had uncovered no direct evidence of financial support from China. Around the same time, a former Shugden devotee, Lama Tseta, held an interview with Voice of America where he claimed that he had witnessed financial support from Chinese officials to overseas Shugden groups in the effort to discredit His Holiness. However, no documentary proof was offered.
While there is no hard evidence of financial collusion, it requires someone to be naïve in the ways of the espionage and psy-ops to believe that the CPC has played no role in the schism. While the direct evidence is not persuasive to prove funding from China, the circumstantial evidence is certainly not weak enough to conclude that there is no link.
By supporting the Shugden devotees, the Chinese authorities may feel that they have found a cost-effective way to stick a finger in the eye of His Holiness’ prestige overseas, but the actual track record presents a less successful picture. Anti-Dalai Lama protests may make for gratifying visuals for the cadres in Beijing, but they are sparsely attended by a scattering of protesters whose awkwardly-phrased message — “False Dalai Lama: Stop Lying” — makes it easy to dismiss them as ciphers for Chinese propaganda. Surely, to refer to China as the “elder brother” of bordering states like Mongolia reinforces the impression of Chinese sycophancy among some Shugden groups.
Similarly, the Shugden website might revel in the news that the government of Mongolia agreed not to permit another visit by His Holiness, but that promise is only as good as the lifespan of the current administration (which faces an election in 2020). Further, within three weeks of the ban by the Mongolian Foreign Ministry, His Holiness presided over the inauguration and consecration of the Mongolian Battsagaan Temple in Bodh Gaya, India in a ceremony that was attended by Khambo Lama Choi Gyatso, the Abbot of the Gandan Tegchenling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar and the head of Mongolian Buddhism. Clearly, His Holiness’ spiritual authority for Mongolian matters has not been hampered by Beijing’s protests or the declarations of appeasement by Mongolia’s Foreign Ministry.
Even His Holiness’ trip to Arunuchal Pradesh reinforced the image of China’s ineffectiveness in diminishing his prestige, as witnessed by the 50,000 people who attended his gatherings. The trip underscored the prospect that the Tibetan clergy will be able to locate his successor without interference from Beijing. If one is keeping score, the cheerful aging monk from Dharamsala continues to hold his own very well against the Chinese behemoth.
More importantly, an astute student of geopolitics would have to question the wisdom behind a hegemon advancing its own agenda by stirring up religious unrest. Such allies often have dramatically different agendas and cannot be predictably controlled, especially if their motivations are found in topics as nuanced and esoteric as Shugden propitiation. A Chinese official only need to consider the dramatic example of how U.S. support for the Afghan muhajideen precipitated the unexpected blow back of 9/11 decades later. Further, tacit support to Shugden propitiation in Tibet plants contentious seeds that will undermine China’s goal of pacifying and integrating Tibet.
The Chinese authorities might want to consider the sound advice of the fictional character Harry Flashman of the series of historical novels by George MacDonald Fraser. “I’ve soldiered far and hard enough to learn one invariable rule, superstition or not: never monkey with the local gods. It don’t pay.”
For those interested in learning more about the Shugden schism, see the following resources:
George Dreyfus, “The Shuk-den Affair: History and Nature of a Quarrel,” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 21:2, 1998.
Sam van Schaik, Tibet: A History, Yale University Press, 2013.
Raimondo Bultrini, The Dalai Lama and the King Demon, Tibet House, 2012.
John Powers and David Templeman, Tibet: A Historical Dictionary, Scarecrow Press, 2012
M.A. Aldrich is a lawyer and author who has resided in East and Central Asia for nearly thirty years. His book Ulaanbaatar: Beyond Water and Grass is due to be published by Hong Kong University Press soon.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
Gregorio Escalante opens a solo show from Jeff Gillette this weekend. (Image: Gillette, ‘Mickey Wasteland’)
Here are 20 awesome events happening in L.A. this Memorial Day Weekend. Happy summer!
FRIDAY, MAY 26
SHERLOCKED (Convention) For the first time ever, UK-based Massive Events brings Sherlocked The Official Sherlock Convention to the U.S. this weekend (May 26-28) at the LAX Marriott. Fans of the TV show Sherlock, which airs on PBS Masterpiece, can check out the video presentations, trivia contests, live auctions, collectibles and props. There’s also cosplay and celeb appearances throughout the weekend. Adult tickets start at $125; tickets for children 5-12 years old are available at $75 and children under the age of 4 are free. Hours are Friday from 5-8 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm.
KEVIN MCDONALD (Comedy + podcast) Kids in the Hall alum Kevin McDonald hosts a live taping of his podcast Kevin McDonald’s Kevin McDonald Show at NerdMelt on Friday night at 7 pm. McDonald presents an old-school variety show with sketches, musical acts and an interview. Special guest: Rob Corddry. Tickets: $10.
PICTURE THIS! (Comedy + animation) Picture This!—a “live animated comedy show” with standup comedians performing while they’re drawn live by some of the best animators, cartoonists and other artists—is at the Virgil on Friday night at 8 pm. There’s comedy by Josh Fadem, Mo Welch, Casey Ley, Bucky Sinister, Kara R. Klenk and Brodie Reed; with animation by Mike Hollingsworth, Mike L. Mayfield, Joel Trussell, Ashlyn Anstee, Jenny Fine, Colin Heck and Ashley Becerra. Free.
ERMF LOCALS NIGHT (Music) The producers of the Eagle Rock Music Festival (ERMF) presents the May edition of ERMF Locals Night at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock on Friday at 8 pm. The all ages show features local bands High Cameras, Dahli Mamas and Idylls. Art and libations, too. Tickets: $8-$10. BIKE NIGHT AT UNION STATION (Bike party) Metro closes out Bike Month with a special celebration at Union Station on Friday night from 5:30-8:30 pm. The family-friendly event celebrates biking through music, food and fun. Kids are welcome to practice their skills at a bike rodeo hosted by Walk ‘n Rollers, and at crafting stations hosted by Side Street Projects. Adults have their own crafting stations and games, too. KCRW’s DJ Garth Trinidad provides the tunes. Bike Night is free.
GET HIGH WATCH WRESTLING WITH RON FUNCHES AND X-PAC (Fun) On Friday at 10:30 pm, Cinefamily presents the special event, Get High Watch Wrestling with Ron Funches & X-Pac. Comedian Funches and pro wrestling icon X-Pac get high, watch and then make fun of classic and modern wrestling matches with a group of famous friends. Tickets: $20, $40 for VIP, which includes priority seating and a meet and greet with Funches at 10 pm.
SATURDAY, MAY 27
EAT DRINK VEGAN (Food + drink) Eat Drink Vegan, the vegan beer and food festival, is at the Rose Bowl and Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena on Saturday. The festival features unlimited pours of more than 250+ beverages, more than 75 restaurants, a vegan marketplace and more amenities. Gates open at 12 pm for VIP ticket holders ($105), 2 pm for general admission ($55). Last pour is at 8 pm and the festival ends at 9 pm. Food is not included with passes.
TOTAL DISMAY (Art) Banksy’s Dismaland, a play on the happiest place on earth, captured the attention of the world in 2015. The exhibition/installation featured paintings by a number of artists including Jeff Gillette, who was widely hailed as the inspiration for the viral “bemusement park.” Now Gillette has an upcoming solo show, Total Dismay, at Gregorio Escalante Gallery in Chinatown. He’s turned the space into an “art landfill,” where attendees will have navigate signed and numbered limited-edition prints of Gillette’s work to view dozens of new large-scale paintings, sculptures, shadow-boxes and more. Total Dismay is on view at Gregorio Escalante Gallery from May 27-July 2 with a public opening reception Saturday from 7-10 pm.
ONE WORD WEIRD-A-THON (Film) The American Cinematheque presents an all-night movie marathon at the Aero Theatre beginning at 7:30 pm on Saturday night. All the films included in the ‘weird cinema program have one-word titles, and include Roar (1981), Nukie (1987), R.O.T.O.R (1987), Congo (1995), Things (1989), House / Hausu (1997) and Mathilda (1978). Contests, free pizza and snacks are held throughout the night. Tickets: $25, $20 for members (no vouchers).
MAISON FUTURO’S CHAPTER ONE (Art) B&O Play presents the art collective Maison Futuro and its Chapter One—a night of conceptual audio and visual art on Saturday night at the Theatre at Ace Hotel. 8 pm. There will be K-Pop producers spinning tunes, an immersive light art photo booth, installations and more. Free with RSVP.
OUTDOOR SCREENINGS (Films) Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in L.A., and what other way to celebrate than with films under the stars? On Saturday, Street Food Cinema welcomes Lea Thompson from Back to the Future to Verdugo Park in Glendale for the screening/movie event; and in Pasadena, they’ll screen Clueless at Victory Park in Pasadena. Adult tickets: $13-$21. Over at Hollywood Forever, Cinespia screens North by Northwest on Saturday night and Clueless on Sunday.
SUNDAY, MAY 28
L.A. ZINE FEST (Exhibition) L.A. Zine Fest 2017 brings together more than 200 exhibitors and hands-on zine-centric workshops to the California Market Center on Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. The day also features Playdate, an indie pop-up arcade for attendees to enjoy; F.L.O.W (The Feminist Library On Wheels); and live DJ sets from Chulita Vinyl Club, DJ Crasslos, KCHUNG and KXLU. The event is free and open to the public.
Smorgasburg celebrates the burger on Sunday. (Image: Courtesy of Smorgasburg)
SMORGASBURG (Food) Smorgasburg LA celebrates the hamburger this Sunday in honor of Memorial Day and National Hamburger Day with three burger pop-ups at the market. Chinatown’s Burgerlords serve up their vegan burgers; BaBoys from Carson brings its lumpia burger; and NYC’s Ramen Burger returns. Smorgasburg’s regular vendors will also offer burger specials, including a Cheezus patty melt. The market runs from 10 am to 4 pm.
MAINOPOLY (Food) MAINopoly: Taste of Main Street returns to Santa Monica for the third year on Sunday from 3-8 pm. Buy tickets and then use the corresponding MAINopoly dollars for tastings or drink specials at participating eateries, juice stores and coffee shops along Main Street, including Bareburger, Areal, Enterprise Fish Co., Espresso Cielo and others. Proceeds benefit Summer SOULstice and Heal the Bay. Activities include the Go to Jail VIP Lounge sponsored by Shock Top with hosted beer, food from local restaurants, snacks, DJ and games, a Kids Zone, beer gardens and more. If you hit all the locations on the agenda, you can win a Taste of Main Street prize package. Tickets: $25 in advance and $30 the day of; $40 in advance and $50 day of for VIP.
NAT TOWSEN’S DOWNTOWN VARIETY HOUR (Talk show + variety) Nat Towsen brings his New York-style talk show to L.A. on Sunday at 9 pm at UCB Sunset. His Downtown Variety Hour includes interviews with local L.A. comedians, musicians and historians. Guests include comic Dave Ross, rapper MC Chris and others. In the “LA Trivia” segment, he’s joined by Los Angeles native Ani Raya-Flores to challenge audience for prizes. Tickets: $7.
THE CLIFTON’S CANTEEN (Party) The Clifton’s Canteen, held at Clifton’s Downtown on Sunday and Monday from 7-10 pm, is a tribute to the 1940s USO shows. Wear your ‘40s era fashions and listen to the big band jazz and standards of the times. General admission: $15, $45 for reserved seating.
NEIL HAMBURGER (Comedy) Neil Hamburger: Live is at the Satellite on Sunday night at 8:30 pm. In addition to comedy by Hamburger, the lineup also features Brent Weinbach, Anna Seregina, Chris Crofton, Scott Thompson and others. Door at 8 pm. Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 at the door. 21+.
CAFAM opens a solo show by Betye Saar this weekend. (Image: Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton Gallery)
BETYE SAAR: KEEPIN’ IT CLEAN (Art) On Sunday, the exhibition Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean opens at the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles (CAFAM). The solo show features the artist’s washboard assemblage sculptures. The prolific artist, born in 1926, is an icon of the Black Arts Movement of the 1970s and her work remains ever so relevant today.
MONDAY, MAY 29
TARGET FREE MONDAY (Art exhibitions) Admission to LACMA is free on Memorial Day, as part of Target Free Holiday Mondays program. Live music by LA’s Ethio Cali, an Ethiopian jazz ensemble led by trumpeter, arranger and composer Todd Simon, plays at 12:30 pm and 2:45 pm. Museum hours are 11 am to 5 pm.
PASS THE MIC (Rap comedy) Pass The Mic is a new rap and improvisational comedy at Santa Monica’s Westside Theater, featuring rap improv group Open Season. This month’s show takes place at 8 pm on Monday. Special guests: Chris Alvarado, Matt Garard as well as special music guest EpicLLOYD. Tickets are $5.
… the demographic contortions that packed African-American — and mostly Democratic — voters into … has acknowledged that partisanship and racism are not necessarily separate. In … legislature was taking aim at African-American or Democratic voters, the result … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News