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It might seem unlikely that a man raised in the mountains of the West and a woman from India would ever cross paths. Yet, in Mountains Made for Us—the premiere production from Roshni, an Aurora-based nonprofit arts organization, and co-presented through Control Group Productions’ Guest Artist Presenting Initiative—the marrying of these two divergent cultures highlights an important lesson about appreciating tradition but still following your heart.
Roshni’s artistic director, Deepali Lindblom, loosely based the play on her own life. Originally from Northern India, Lindbloom says she was inspired by her own experience trying to adapt to a new country and falling in love with a man of Western origins. While her story isn’t specific to Colorado, the play is.
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Mountains Made for Us follows Mini, an aspiring dancer from Bombay, who falls in love with a Colorado pot-shop owner named Cal, played by Jeremy Barnes. His craft beer and flannel clashes with her curry and brightly colored tops and saris, but they bond over a mutual love of the mountains. Lindblom, along with co-playwright and local actor Luke Sorge, crafted a love story that invites the audience to see how our differences can bring us together rather than tear us apart.
“The message is for the young people,” Lindblom says. “I am showing them with my life experience to follow your heart, but also to work for it.”
The production is presented in typical Bollywood style, with heightened emotions and facial expressions, frequent ensemble numbers, a climactic conflict in the love story, and—of course—a happy ending. But what really stands out is the diversity of the cast. With members hailing from 14 different ethnicities, from the Congo to Romania to Nepal, the production not only celebrates a fictional intercultural mixing, but highlights the multiethnic diversity found in Aurora.
Lindblom created Roshni in November 2016 to emphasize the voices of Colorado’s refugee and immigrant communities through various programs—one of which is dancing. For two years, Lindblom has taught classic Indian dance styles to a group of children and young adults who, fittingly, make up the ensemble for Mountains Made for Us.
Throughout the emotional (and comedic) plotline, the vibrant dance numbers, and embarrassingly relatable Colorado tropes, the message of Mountains Made for Us—one that promotes adapting and sharing cultural traditions—is strikingly clear.
“Sometimes our cultural legacies and traditions need to be reviewed,” Lindblom says. “For example, in India, arranged marriage and believing parents know best all the time. Really, our culture should be a roadmap, and we need to let go of things that hinder our growth and our thought process.”
Lindblom hopes the contemporary American-Bollywood love story will resonate well beyond the immigrant and refugee communities that Roshni serves, and spark a larger conversation about how we, as Coloradans, can evolve in a diversifying state.
If you go: Mountains Made for Us, a collaboration by Roshni, Control Group Productions, and Vintage Theatre, runs for two weekends only, from August 9 to 18. Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $15.