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Author: Larry Southall, as told to Jessie Bauters

The Making of “Box,” Larry Southall’s piece for “The Current”

Editor’s note: Larry Southall recently sat down with Jessie Bauters to talk about the inspiration behind “Box,” the piece he choreographed for “The Current,” performing in the University Theatre through April 20.

I call my daughter by her nickname: Box. She’s 11. Box does competitive karate. When she first told me, “I want to do karate. I want to fight,” I thought, “Really? But okay, as long as she’s doing something.”

Girls are “supposed” to play with dolls and be submissive. Some of our family members have even said so. But my daughter doesn’t prescribe to that. My daughter likes competitive fighting. She loves it.

Since she started karate, my daughter cuts her hair short. (She doesn’t like it to be in her way or in her face.) One day she came home from school and told me they had a substitute teacher. And this teacher yelled at her for going in the girl’s bathroom. When my daughter said, “But I am a girl,” the substitute, who was an older woman, said, “Well, ladies should have longer hair. Boys have shorter hair.”

I was livid. I was out for blood.

But my daughter said, “Oh, Dad. It’s okay, who cares?”

I was more upset than she was! In that moment, she taught me something about not getting upset when people judge you. She taught me to be more tolerant of people when they are ignorant. People may look at you and think a certain way because you are short, tall, dark-skinned, light-skinned, have short hair or long hair. But it’s their problem. Don’t let it become your problem.

My piece for “The Current” is called “Box.” It’s not about my daughter, but she is my inspiration.

“Box” deals with people’s interaction and the perceptions about people who you may not really understand. Everyone walks to the beat of their own drum. If you’re an original person—if you wear your hair a certain way or talk a certain way or look a certain way—people judge you upon that. But we’re all people, we’re all connected and just because someone is different or has different values doesn’t mean that they should be discounted.

Come to “The Current” and understand that when you look at someone and you judge them without even knowing them, it’s a really sad thing. It goes beyond race or gender. And perception, you know, sadly becomes reality. I’m trying to debunk that.

“The Current” runs through April 20 in the University Theatre. Tickets start at $18.