by Billy Clouse
Yesterday, A.P.E.X. Events kicked off the 2017-18 season with Andrew “Lemon” Andersen. The Tony Award winner spoke at 11:30 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Hunter Conference Center about his life, poetry and success. He also presented a few of his poems.
At 4 p.m., his film, “Lemon,” was screened in the Theater of the Sharwan Smith Student Center.
Lynn Vartan, Director of A.P.E.X. Events, said she was happy to have Lemon as the first presenter in the series.
“The beginning of the 2017-2018 season of the A.P.E.X. Event Series could not be off to a better start with Lemon Andersen,” she said in a press release. “My team and I are honored and excited to have the talent and energy of Lemon to help us celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Southern Utah University.”
The event was presented in a Q&A style, with Vartan asking Lemon questions. Below are five of the questions asked.
Tell us the story of your name.
“My father is Norwegian, so I came out really blond and white. I had a fairly large head — I had this head but on a little body — so they called me ‘Lemonhead’ when I was young. I met them halfway and said, ‘Can we just call me Lemon,’ and eventually everyone just called me ‘Lemon.’ My real name is Andrew, but Andrew doesn’t really exist anymore — only on paper when a cop pulls me over and I have to give him my license.”
What is success to you?
“I have children, and for a long time I thought you had to be successful in order to be happy. My child once told me that I put too much pressure on her about being successful. I worked really hard so she wouldn’t have to repeat what I had to go through. With success, you have to just love the process because the results don’t belong to you; you just have to fall in love with working. You could have a really great show that no one wants to come see — I know the feeling. You can have a really successful idea that no one wants to buy, but you just created it, and that’s the real success, the process.”
What is a mentor?
“You lead by example. I tend to be down-to-earth with my students. For example, I have a student who’s now on the ‘Hamilton’ Broadway show. He was a poet first, but he was stuck and you could tell he wanted more. He had to go through the rigor of separating himself (from his past), and a lot of it was just having lunch with him, hanging out with him, teaching him how to pay for the bill... I also joked a lot; there was a lot of humor and over-the-edge jokes, so it was good for him. Then there was this real respect because it wasn’t like I was his teacher, it was like ‘Oh, he’s my boy. I don’t want to let him down.’”
What advice do you have for people who want to try out poetry?
“You have to be a writer and you have to be into the labor. It has to be a lifestyle, and you’ve got to believe that your first draft is your worst draft. As a kid, I would lock myself in my room while my mom was in the living room dealing with her addictions and her friends, and I loved dancing to Michael Jackson. When the opportunity came to be on stage, I had been practicing all my life.”
What does vulnerability mean to you?
“You have to craft your vulnerability. I don’t want to see you crying on stage, I want to see the play. It’s good to tell your stories, but don’t get caught up in it because I don’t want to pity you. If you really love poetry and telling stories, be professional… If you’re coming to me as an artist and you’ve worked hard on this poem but it’s too personal, then it might not be ready for me as a teacher…”
Next week's event
Next Thursday, Sept. 21, A.P.E.X. Events will host Helen Foster Snow Day, which celebrates the legacy of the humanitarian.
The event kicks off Wednesday night with a traditional Chinese music ensemble concert at 7: 30 p.m. in Thorley Recital Hall. Below is the schedule of events for Thursday.