“Normal” is a word that by its nature should not have much meaning. However, for many people, that word represents an impossible standard. They have to learn to find meaning in what sets them apart. In “Magic 8 Ball: My Life with Asperger’s,” George Steeves describes his experiences with the often‑misunderstood Asperger’s syndrome, how it’s shaped who he is, and what he has learned from it. As Mr. Steeves points out, a common symptom of Asperger’s is “repetitive and restrictive patterns of behavior and interests.” For him, that involved the performing arts. He struggled to focus on things outside of his few interests, and found joy in pursuing them, becoming an actor and singer. Another common symptom is difficulty with social interaction and nonverbal communication, and Mr. Steeves shares his own stories of struggling for acceptance and relationships. Mr. Steeves shares his experiences with sincerity, passion and patience, knowing that his audience may have difficulty relating to his experiences if they are neurotypical. With his trusty “magic 8 ball” in hand, he speaks plainly and honestly, from the point of view of younger versions of himself as he grows up. He remembers being ostracized for being in special‑needs classes, struggling with his homework, and wanting “to be anyone but me.” Mr. Steeves also shares his experiences in adulthood, from discovering his sexuality, to learning to cut off toxic relationships, to finding self‑acceptance. All the while, he asks his magic 8 ball the questions he wished he had answers to: “Will I get on American Idol?” “Will this semester be better?” And, most significantly, “Will I ever be normal?” Mr. Steeves never once shies away from the realities of Asperger’s or how he learned to live with it, and proudly proclaims, “I validate me. Who I am is okay.” He speaks out for people on the autism spectrum, many of whom cannot speak for themselves. He calls for compassion, for understanding, and for the world to remember that people on the spectrum are human. They deserve love and support. Ultimately, “Magic 8 Ball: My Life with Asperger’s” is a powerful show with an important message. There may be a great many people who might not go out of their way to see a show about Asperger’s, but they should. As Mr. Steeves says, “there are so many questions,” and there is room for everyone to look for answers.
“Magic 8 Ball: My Life With Asperger’s” Written and performed by George Steeves Directed by Penni Wilson and Crystal Wilson October 18, 2019 at 7:30 PM Photo: courtesy of the production 2019 United Solo Theatre Festival Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
CHANCE MORGAN is a writer and director currently based in New Jersey. He has worked for Dorset Theatre Festival, Northern Stage, and Bay Street Theatre. He is a graduate of Colorado Mesa University’s theatre program, and spends his time developing his screenplays and musicals.