The University at Albany Foundation
Looking at Lemon:
Transforming Life through Literature
in conjunction with the
Performing Arts Center, NYS Writers Institute and University Art Museum
This series of events focuses on the life and work of Lemon Andersen, a writer, performance artist, screen actor and Tony Award-winning poet. He is also a three-time felon who grew up in Brooklyn, the child of a Puerto Rican mother and Norwegian American father, both heroin addicts who died of AIDS before he was fifteen leaving Lemon an orphaned teenager fending for himself. A high school drop-out who spent years in jail and on probation, his attempts at rehabilitation faltered until he attended a poetry reading and found a sense of purpose in the art of words. The series celebrates Lemon’s ability to find meaning in his life, discover healing in creative work and transform pain into art.
(Please take note of the various locations of these events)
Lemon: The Movie
Friday, October 24 at 7:30pm – Page Hall (Downtown Campus)
Saturday, November 1 at 9pm – Performing Arts Center
This intricately crafted documentary follows Lemon's struggle to free his family from poverty and pain by embarking on a harrowing journey to bring his life story to the stage. It follows his desperate battle to keep the past where it belongs and move into a brighter future. Redemption may lie within Lemon's grasp when none other than Spike Lee steps in to produce his show. The stakes are high. With the power of a cliffhanger, the film asks the larger question: Can any of us really escape the past? Produced by Laura Brownson and Beth Levison of Dandelion Films, the movie features the music of hip-hop phenoms Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Aloe Blacc. See the trailer
An Evening with Lemon Andersen
Thursday, November 6 at 7pm – University Art Museum
In an intimate and informal setting, Lemon addresses the audience about his life and work, focusing on what nurtures him as an artist and how that has been the salvation in his life. An original cast member of the Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway (2002-2003), he shared the 2003 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. A veteran of major spoken word performance venues, including the Nuyorican Poets Café and the Apollo Theater, Lemon is also the author of two poetry collections, Ready Made Real (2004) and County of Kings (2009), which earned the Grand Prize at the 2010 New York Book Festival. As an actor, he has appeared in four films directed by Spike Lee, including Sucker Free City (2004), She Hate Me (2004), Inside Man (2006), and Miracle at St. Anna (2008). Lemon also appeared in The Soloist (2009) starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx. Copies of his book County of Kings will be available for purchase and signing.
County of Kings by Lemon Andersen
Thursday, November 13 at 7:30pm – Performing Arts Center
Pre-show discussion begins at 7pm
Advance tickets: $15 general public
$10 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff
Day of show tickets: $20 general public
$15 students, seniors & UAlbany faculty-staff
Originally developed and directed by Elise Thoron, American Place Theatre took Lemon’s life story and adapted it into a solo play now performed by Michael Angel Viera. Weaving hard-edged drama with urban poetry and gritty prose, the work follows Lemon’s coming-of-age memoir of the same name touching on young love, the birth of hip hop, slinging crack, ballet, stealing car parts, prison and poetry in an astonishing journey toward self-discovery. Lemon’s tough, yet poignant story is told with profound honesty, compassion and humor with the work eloquently capturing his quest to find passion and purpose in life against all odds. This show is a Literature to Life stage presentation of Young Audiences New York.
See a video of this show in the making.
Additional support for the series provided by the Alumni Association, Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, University Auxiliary Services, Diversity Transformation Fund administered through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Holiday Inn Express. Promotional assitance provided by the Campus Programming Board.
Photos this page:
Lemon Andersen by Matthew Akers.
County of Kings by Manauvaskar Kublall. Pictured is Michael Angel Viera as Lemon Andersen.