We tend to forget about Burma. Perhaps it's because we're not sure what to call it ("Isn't it Myanmar?") or because its desperate struggle doesn't seem to impact our lives directly. We forget that some of the most heinous crimes against freedom, democracy and humanity are being perpetrated every day by its ruling military dictatorship and that one of the world's most stirring voices for political and religious freedom, Aung San Suu Kyi (pronounced "chee") is being held captive by Burma's twisted junta.
Maui has a rare opportunity to remember - and even celebrate - Burma and its struggle against political and religious oppression when spiritual activist and former Buddhist monk Alan Clements hosts an event honoring Aung San Suu Kyi Saturday evening at Paia's Renzai Zen Center.
Clements, the first American ever to be ordained as a Buddhist monk, lived in a monastery in Burma throughout the 1970s and '80s. After visiting war zones in Croatia and South East Asia, he felt the need to "get off the cushion" and take the lessons of Buddhism out in the field. Aung San Soo Kyi, after leading Burma's Democratic Resistance movement to an historic victory against the ruling military party in 1991, was put under house arrest and the 82 percent parliamentary vote her party received was ignored. Although Soo Kyi was granted the Nobel Peace Prize, the international community did little to intercede on her behalf.
Aung San Soo Kyi
* An Evening with author, activist, satirist and former Buddhist monk Alan Clements celebrating Aung San Soo Kyi's 65th birthday at the Renzai Zen Center (adjacent to Baldwin Beach), Paia, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 19. Advance tickets are $25 online at www.worlddharma.com or $35 at the door the night of the event.
Paul Janes-Brown is King Thurston and Barbara Sedano is Queen Lovie in Pro-Arts’ “Sleeping Beauty.”
Against all odds, Clements was granted a six-month "audience" with Soo Kyi and her closest friends and advisers - all of whom who live behind tightly locked, closely-guarded gates in a secluded area of Burma. Excerpts from his lengthy, spiritually-charged conversations with the nonviolent Buddhist revolutionary were chronicled in "The Voice of Hope: Aung San Soo Kyi Conversations with Alan Clements" (2008), but the audio and video tapes were buried under a monastery for many years to keep them out of the hands of Burma's current leadership (who consider both Clements and Soo Kyi enemies of the state). Recently, after many attempts, the tapes were smuggled out of the country. Now the world finally has the chance to hear Soo Kyi's powerful voice.
Clements will share a portion of the historic recordings Saturday. He will also facilitate a discussion of Myanmar and perform a monologue from his ongoing project "Spiritually Incorrect: In Defense of Being Human" - a spontaneous, unbridled, uncharacteristically funny reflection on Buddhism and the search for definitive meaning in a seemingly chaotic universe. His sardonic, sometimes shocking, always insightful performances perpetuate the style and substance first popularized by the late Spalding Gray (Clements had the opportunity to work with Gray during the filming of "Beyond Rangoon" for which Clements served as an adviser). In previous years, Clements performed to sold-out audiences at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
During the discussion and performance, Clements will touch upon the importance of Burma as a spiritual paradigm and Soo Kyi as a "living embodiment of the beauty and power of nonviolence in a world where violence is an expected response."
In Burma, in the international community and within our own personal relationships, Clements explained, "There's no other option than dialogue and a deep, deep respect for our mutuality."
According to Clements, the evening will also serve as a call to action, an examination of "the role of the archetypal activist" and an impetus to turn "everyday life into everyday activism."
Clements explained how, in Burma, spoken-word comedians are the country's mouthpieces for political and spiritual dissent. They are often arrested and tortured, but they refuse to be silenced. These comic foot soldiers of freedom embody what Clements calls "the everyday revolutionary engaged in an act of empowered change."
At the Renzai Zen Center (adjacent to Baldwin Beach) on Saturday night, people will come together to share, question, and celebrate the release of Soo Kyi's message of nonviolence and reflect on the their own unique role in advancing freedom and peace. Proceeds from the event will support the Burma Project USA and the restoration and preservation of the audio and video tapes.
Pro-Arts, Inc. breathes new life into the fairy tale classic "Sleeping Beauty." In true Pro-Arts fashion, this version is a little bit twisted and a whole lot funny. The illustrious, madcap Maui cast includes Tom Althouse, Paul Janes-Brown, Kristi Scott, Jett Battoon, Cyndi Mayo Davis, Rose Roselinsky, Barbara Sedano and Cameron Sparks. Bring the kids, sit back and enjoy the ride in ProArts' spacious, air conditioned Kihei playhouse. The show opens this Friday and runs through Sunday, June 27, with Friday performances at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. For tickets and information, call 875-4367 or log on to www.proartspacific.com.
Get out the booties, cut-up shirts and Aqua Net and walk like an Egyptian to the Historic Iao Theater at 7 p.m. Friday! Maui OnStage invites you to the Ultimate '80s Dance Party featuring the Cheryl Rae Band and special guests. A $5-$20 sliding scale donation takes you back to the most totally tubular time in history. Call 242-6969 for more information.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts' Youth Sum'R Musical Theatre Camp transforms the Steppingstone Playhouse into the exotic, mysterious alleys of old Arabia when its colorful production of "Aladdin" opens on July 1. Don't miss Maui's talented keiki - decked out in harem pants and spangly vests - as they showcase their talent in this Disney favorite. Tickets are available now at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center service kiosk. Call 244-8760 for more information.