The Process, of Teaching and Otherwise

Jose VilsonJose2 Comments

Lemon Andersen

Lemon Andersen

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 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 …

Comments 2

  1. I had to think for a moment about what I’m passionate about-there are a few things in my life that fall under that heading. I find myself driven in my professional life because I know there’s a for real need for me to be a forever growing teacher. I consider what I do in the classroom to be an art form. I am always working on ways to improve my craft.

    I also sing and write. Those are natural talents and my love for both keeps me working hard to improve what I do. I find that there is always another level to reach and that I want to make that journey to it.

  2. Post

    Hey, Deb, thanks for the comment. I think the debate over whether what we as teachers is art or science will continue to pervade the discussion for years to come. I know I lie somewhere in the middle in that discussion. With that said, it’s good to know your passions because some people wander through life not even knowing that. Much success to ya.

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