On Wednesday, October 19th I walked into the San Diego Mesa College theatre to be inspired. In what way, I do not know. On that very day I had the pleasure of seeing and listening to the very charismatic, Benjamin Scheuer. Scheuer is the creator and performer of the one-man autobiographical musical show, The Lion. His speech encouraged young actors, playwrights and artists alike to authentically express themselves through their art.
Scheuer is a distinct artist in the way he puts his true emotion into his works. For him, authenticity is telling the truth. Often when we are asked how we are, we say good. We say good as a proper gesture. Most of the time we are not good. We feel better than or worse than good. We’re distraught or delighted. That’s Scheuers point: express what you feel but be authentic, no matter how overwhelming it may be. I thought this was a new and profound thought for the millennial.
Without doubt, happy endings are enjoyable and uplifting, but if everything we write about has a happy ending we are being artificial. Once we sense dishonesty we no longer feel compelled to know more. Scheuer’s autobiographical production, The Lion, tells true stories about his battle with cancer. He also opens up about his relationship with his father and how his world changed after losing him. Without question, he feels more emotions than just good.
To make you understand Scheuer’s raw authenticity, watch his music video, Cure. If you have never endured cancer your heart will be moved by his words. Scheuer at twenty-eight years old was diagnosed with and successfully treated for stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Although, his songs are about his own battle he too sings about all of our battles. We can relate to his heartache, but we choose to hide our emotions. Scheur advised, “If you want to write a good song, write about what you don’t want people to know about you… If you want to write a great song, write about what you don’t want to know about yourself.” The New York based artist unapologetically uses his platform to share his struggles. His hope is that other people will feel like they’re not alone while overcoming cancer or anything else unimaginable to one’s reality.
Scheuer’s stage presence was also very funny and lighthearted. Telling jokes and reflecting on college memories. The presentation closed with audience members asking the playwright questions. In one memorable response, he encouraged students to listen to a wide variety of artists and to read an array of poets, so that we can craft our own voice. As I walked away from this intimate Q&A session with Scheuer, I didn’t feel inspired. At least not in the cliché, “I want to change the world” way. I was inspired to be a little bit more honest. Honest with people and honest in my writing. This unorthodox inspiration was exciting to me. Honesty is a tangible practice that scheuer wants us to learn.
If you too, have a yearning to hear something different, check out Benjamin Scheuer in the nationally acclaimed musical performance: The Lion. The show is both funny and honest. Scheuer is able to put raw emotion and exceptional artistry into his live performance. For tickets and tour stops visit: The Lion Musical.