PBS, Lemon Andersen, VOCES
Lemon, a new documentary about the acclaimed New York poet/playwright Lemon Andersen, will have its broadcast premiere on PBS as part of Latino Public Broadcasting's arts and culture series VOCES on Friday, October 19, 2012 from 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month. Produced and directed by Laura Brownson and Beth Levison, Lemon is a Russell Simmons presentation in association with Impact Partners.
A three-time felon and one-time Tony Award winner, Lemon Andersen's deeply personal art reflects his raw upbringing on the streets of Brooklyn. The son of a Puerto Rican mother and Norwegian-American father, both of whom succumbed to drugs and AIDS, Lemon discovered poetry while serving time. Through an unstoppable combination of talent and drive, in 2003 he miraculously found himself on Broadway, starring in Russell Simmons' Tony Award-winning production of Def Poetry Jam. But after six months, the show closed and the fame and money were gone as quickly as they had come.
As the film begins, Lemon has landed back in the projects, living with his wife, daughters and extended family, and desperate for a way out. He turns to the only things he has left -- his pen and his story. Filmed over the course of three years, we follow Lemon as he attempts to bring his life story to the stage in a new work entitled "County of Kings," while navigating the perilous world of the New York theatrical community and battling demons from his past. Shot on location in the places that shaped the man and his art, including Coney Island, the Brooklyn projects and Rikers Island, and featuring a surprise turn by Spike Lee and music by hip-hop phenomena Kanye West, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and others, Lemon brings to life the anguish of a generation of men clinging to the margins but fighting for something more -- as Lemon says, "chasing normalcy."
Produced by Latino Public Broadcasting, VOCES is the only national television series devoted to exploring and celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience.
The series will premiere on four consecutive Friday nights at 10PM, beginning on September 28, 2012. Other films in the series are Tales of Masked Men (September 28), Escaramuza: Riding from the Heart (October 5)and Unfinished Spaces (October 12). Funding for VOCES was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to its national broadcast, VOCES will also be available for free viewing online via the VOCES website. For complete information, visit www.pbs.org/voces.
Lemon Andersen is a performance artist, writer and Tony Award-winning poet.
In 2012 The Sundance Institute commissioned the development of ToasT, his next stage production at The Public Theater in New York City. For a decade now, Lemon's memorable performances have rocked iconic venues including Harlem's Apollo Theater, San Francisco's Theatre on the Square, Charleston's Spoleto Festival, the Chicago Theatre, New York State's Spiegeltent, and Hollywood's Kodak and Montalban Theatres.
Spike Lee produced Lemon's coming-of-age autobiographical memoir County of Kings at The Public Theater; Lemon's performance earned a rave review from Ben Brantley of The New York Times. Since its 2009 debut, County of Kings has been staged in the United States from coast-to-coast, in Europe and South Africa. Lemon's published script of his County of Kingsmemoir was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2010 New York Book Festival.
Lemon won a Tony Award in 2003 for Def Poetry Jam, produced by Russell Simmons on Broadway and broadcast on HBO for six seasons. He earned his classically trained chops at The Public Theater's Shakespeare Lab. As a guest instructor at the esteemed Stella Adler Studio (2011-2012), Lemon developed the first spoken-word intensive to be offered at an actors' conservatory. He has performed and led workshops at several colleges, from the University of Wisconsin to Syracuse to UC Berkeley to Harvard.
In 2011, Lemon was selected to join The Sundance Institute's Playwrights Retreat and the TED organization invited him to perform at their inaugural TEDYouth event which was live streamed to 16 countries. In the spring of 2012, Lemon traveled to Australia and New Zealand where he participated in the Sydney Writers Festival and the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival.