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Festival Rehearsals Have a New Stage
By Peggy Chen & Erica Lee / Sunday, June 25th, 2006 / O'Henry High School

On Sunday, June 25th, rehearsal participants found themselves in unfamiliar territory as they walked into their first rehearsal at the O'Henry High School. Guided by the wonderful Byakuren members, however, they quickly found a new home and workplace for kosen-rufu.

Kari Nealis, a young women's leader in New York South region, started the day by leading gongyo. Without a traditional bell, the youth leaders improvised with a borrowed Chinese gong from the Asian Performance Group.

Afterwards, the festival's co-director, Atul Sheffey welcomed everyone to the first of five, all-day rehearsals at this location (yes, it's crunch time!). His counterpart, Michiko Nakamura, gave a presentation on the oneness of mentor and disciple, an integral part of the practice of Nichiren Buddhism. The youth met for the first time the stage director, Shenica Odom, who will instruct each performance group on their exits and entrances, among other things.

Then the performance groups began yet another rigorous rehearsal. Some reported to the stage to mark their places during their performances, while others met in their assigned rooms for individual practice.

In the Documentary Committee, each of the members shared our experiences about this activity, the challenges we faced and breakthroughs made thus far. In those few moments, we created stronger bonds as a group and got to know each other a little better.

Later, our Committee, along with a few performance groups, headed to the cafeteria for our scheduled lunch break. We were greeted by cheers from members of the New York South Region men's and women's division who had prepared the meals for us that day. (For each of the five all-day rehearsals, a different region would take responsibility for preparing meals.) The youth had a choice of sandwich (vegetarian, ham & cheese or egg salad), a granola bar, bottled water, and watermelon - which they devoured quickly and appreciatively. Half an hour later, the next batch of performance groups came in for lunch, and we split up to cover different groups.

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Journal 1 (April 23)
Journal 2 (May 14)
Journal 3 (May 21)
Journal 4 (June 11)
Journal 5 (June 18)
Journal 6 (June 25)
Journal 7 (July 1st)
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July 15th
July 16th

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April 23rd
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June 25th (Teens)
June 25th
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