Reflections on Uninvited Girl performance

Abby Webb

On February 28, 2019, Philadelphia Commons Institute hosted Nimisha Ladva's solo performance, Uninvited Girl: An Immigrant Story, followed by a discussion with Nimisha Ladva and director Edward Sobel.  Below, PCI fellow Abby Webb reflects on the performance.


 

When I first heard that the Philadelphia Commons Institute was hosting a solo performance show, I had no idea what to expect. However, if I were to have had any expectations, The Uninvited Girl would have far surpassed them. Written and performed by Nimisha Ladva, The Uninvited Girl is the true story of Ms. Ladva’s childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood leading up to her and her family officially becoming US Citizens. Besides the simple fact that Ladva’s life is incredibly interesting, she also articulates her story in an intimate and engaging way onstage.

            Ladva’s talent as a storyteller is what drew me into her performance, but upon reflection, I have become increasingly more grateful for Ladva’s vulnerability for many reasons. Doing anything in front of a large audience can be intimidating, but sharing something as personal as your family history takes a lot of courage. Ladva, by being vulnerable herself, invites the audience to respond by opening themselves to her story and allowing themselves to be moved by her experiences. It takes courage to allow your perspective to be changed by someone else, and Ladva invites the audience to do just that by first acting courageously herself.

            In addition to inviting me to think more deeply about how to respond to others’ stories and experiences, Ladva also introduced me to parts of a culture I was previously unfamiliar with. Throughout the course of the play, Ladva shares stories her parents told her as a child, and also information about her parents’ lives that are deeply connected to a culture much different from my own. Ladva shared that the stories, one in particular, her mother told her as a child still deeply affect her to this day. The way stories we are told in our childhood change and shape us is such a beautiful thing, and Ladva portrays the complicated relationship she has with the way her parents raised her with grace.

            The Uninvited Girl is a beautiful story beautifully told, and I am thankful to have seen it. Nimisha Ladva’s story is an opportunity to reflect and appreciate someone else’s life story; someone whose life and background is quite different from myself. Amongst all the impersonal political debates and turmoil around immigration policy in politics and the media, it is helpful to take a step back, or perhaps more accurately a few steps closer, and listen to a real person, recognizing our common humanity through stories.