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Theater advance: 'The Box' challenges audiences to view their lives

Published: Saturday, July 6 2013 12:30 p.m. MDT

Production members of "The Box" include Andrew Robertson, Daniel Fenton Anderson, Christian J. Swenson and Jessamyn Svensson. Swenson is the playwright.

Zach Vineyard

PROVO — It’s not so unusual for a play to be heralded before first being produced. “The Box” is award-winning, and the playwright is diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

“It was the unique style of writing and highly intelligent symbolism that sparked my curiosity and love of the message in ‘The Box,’” says director Chase Ramsey of Warboy Theatre Projects. “Christian Swenson wrote this piece as a way to reach out to others with Asperger's and autism, but also truly anyone.

“Christian makes an attempt to tell people that he has a hard time communicating emotionally and socially with people. He calls this phenomenon ‘the box,’ and that became the title of the play.”

The characteristic of the Asperger’s autism spectrum disorder of a difficulty interacting with others and the struggle to communicate verbally does not involve low intelligence. People with this diagnosis have average or above-average IQ, and some are actually extremely intelligent. But they can be socially awkward — which “typical” individuals can also encounter in their own public situations.

“The writer, who is a great friend of mine, is a brilliant philosopher and consistently questions and shares questions to our universe,” Ramsey says. “‘The Box’ is a way to share his metaphor and raise awareness of the boxes in all of our lives.”

“The box means much more than a simple prop or stage decoration; it signifies life on your own, whether it takes the form of pride, loneliness, despair or even mortality itself,” playwright Swenson explains. “The only way to escape it involves acknowledging that ‘insides’ do not have a monopoly on reality, that the ‘outside’ is indeed very real.”

Swenson’s early version of “The Box” script received a Utah Theatre Association playwright award in January 2011.

“When I first read this play I fell in love with it,” Ramsey says. “I then handed it off to my Warboy Theatre Projects colleagues, Brian Grob and Jake Suazo, so that they could start to refine it with the writer and create a complete piece of theater.”

The goal of projects produced by Warboy Theatre “is to pose questions or make challenges that audiences can then take and answer for themselves,” he says. “This is a piece asking audiences what the boxes are in their lives, and it challenges them to look outside ... and even step outside of these boxes in order to burst through boundaries. This is why theater is important.”

“I hope that every audience member will use this play as an opportunity to begin the universal journey of which this play speaks,” Swenson says. “We all have limitations, and only when we take the hand of something greater than us will we realize that the outside does not make us smaller, but bigger.”

“When the audience walks away from my play, I hope they begin to identify the boxes in their own lives.”

Advisory: Due to its content, “The Box” may not be suitable for children under 13 years old.

If you go …

What: Warboy Theatre Projects’ “The Box,” written by Christian Swenson

Where: The Echo Theatre in Provo

When: July 11-13

How much: $6 in advance and $8 at the door

Tickets: warboytheatreprojects.com

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