Today we have a post from our youngest actor performing in Living Beyond Bollywood, Priya Miller. Read about her experience and come check us out tomorrow!! When walking into a museum, it is easy to have the expectation of seeing sporadic paintings or artifacts decorating otherwise empty, sterile rooms. When walking into the Beyond Bollywood exhibit however, visitors are greeted by the overwhelming atmosphere of liveliness that only a theatrical performance can bring. Being an actor with SAPAN has enabled me to be a part of this new museum experience, for which I am so thankful.
When I have visited museums, often I feel interested in, but also very detached from the history presented before me. Even walking through the Beyond Bollywood exhibit, as an Indian American, I struggled with imagining the injustice Indians had faced. Once I began rehearsals with SAPAN, however, for the Living Beyond Bollywood play, my entire perspective on this rich history changed. Not only did I get to meet an eclectic group of actors, but I had the privilege of learning their personal histories, and how they related to the exhibit. Everyone from SAPAN brought unique skills to the table which enhanced our overall performance, and have made it that much more impactful. As we neared show time I began to see the universality of the Beyond Bollywood exhibit, as not highlighting the adversity of one race, but the struggles and triumphs experienced by all; SAPAN showed me this, and much more.
While I had participated in productions at my school and in my community, I had never been given the chance to perform in a venue of such stature as the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, until SAPAN made it possible. SAPAN allowed me to explore my heritage, and teach it to hundreds of visitors from all backgrounds. From show to show I could see people enjoying the exhibit in a much more engaged and interested way than ever before possible from a typical museum experience. By taking the history and bringing it to life, SAPAN touched more people than an artifact ever could. From my involvement with SAPAN, I have learned about myself, and about how the arts can take the South Asian experience Beyond Bollywood.