Elise Thoron
Elise Thoron
County of Kings
Lit to LifeOscar WaoThe Giver • County of Kings
The House on Mango StreetIf Beale Street Could Talk

I started working with Lemon Andersen on his stage memoire County of Kings at American Place Theater where it was commissioned for the Literature to Life program as the first “Life to Literature” piece. Using Piri Thomas’ Down These Means Streets as a model, Lemon wanted to tell his coming of age story which coinciding with the birth of Hip Hop in New York city, and do it in a style catching the contemporary ear for spoken word poetry. We soon discovered that much of the performance would be in verse. The first performances of County of Kings – then called The Beautiful Struggle – were for students in the Literature to Life program. From there it then went on to the Public and venues around the world, but I always feel the most important audience for the piece are young people whose lives are often greatly impacted by hearing Lemon’s story. So when Young Audiences New York (YANY) became a new home for Literature to Life, with Lemon’s blessing, we restaged County of Kings again as a Literature to Life performance with a new actor MAV (Baby Power). MAV is doing beautiful work, and the show is every bit as powerful as when Lemon performs it. Here is a video of MAV and Lemon tag teaming when the piece came back into the Literature to Life roster: