On Saturday night, yours truly had the opportunity to see County of Kings, a one-man show by Lemon Andersen, in which he tells a semi-autobiographical tale about his life and struggle in the slums of Brooklyn, facing p0verty, drug convictions, AIDS-harboring parents, and the challenges of learning how to be a man without having many father figures around. I describe much of that at length in my latest Blogcritics.org review, and you can check that at your earliest convenience. In this post, I’d like to get more into some of the things he discussed after the play was over, in a bit of a breakdown session where he sat with his all-black hood regalia (bandana, cap, jeans, etc.).
In this session, Lemon paid particular attention to a belief in the process of getting such a well-run, fluid, and, at once, tenacious and emotional. He reiterated the idea of the process as a careful, well-studied, and meticulous set of practices that made him a better actor. Rather than relying on natural talent and wordplay like his fellow spoken word artists, he separates himself by continually studying the legends and learning as much about everything as much as possible. This sounds a bit contrived, but the drive for excellent is evident in the precision of his performance.
And he makes it look far too easy. That seems to be the modus operandi for the new generation of workers. In generations past, hard work looked like hard work, and people logically looked for characteristics of hard work in the physical attributes of the person, searching for the soreness and the tears that come along with what they considered hard work. These days seem to necessitate a certain seduction on the part of whatever work we do, from the pro athletes that people admire to some of our favorite teachers and bloggers.
Superficially, it’s hard to differentiate between these group of people and the average person … until you try and do what they do. That’s when people realize that people have a hard time replicating their brilliance, that all those times when we didn’t see them they were working, and furthermore, that it’s not just that they were out practicing, but practicing perfectly.Furthermore, there’s a passion and an almost religion belief there that others only wish they had, and frankly, makes their work look soulless.
Readers and passerbys alike can learn from people like Lemon. That attention to process takes a ton of back work. To wit, someone asked him, “How have people that you know, that you talk about on the stage respond when you say all these things and share so much personal information?” He replied, “Everything I do here is an act.” and almost simultaneously said, “I believe in everything I do up here.” Everyone watching him apparently did, too.
Jose, who wonders what drives your passion …