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One Question Q&A: Emotional Endurance Theater

In his one-man musical, Benjamin Scheuer transforms the worst moments of his life into song.

 

Before even turning 30, songwriter Benjamin Scheuer had endured more heartache than some people do in their lifetime: He lost his father at 13, his long-term girlfriend essentially abandoned him in his late-twenties, and shortly after the breakup he was diagnosed with cancer. How did he cope? By writing songs, which have since morphed into the Drama Desk Award–winning one-man musical The Lion, coming to the Strand Theater this month. The show details the most painful moments of Scheuer’s life, and he’s performed it over 250 times in the past two years. Here, he explains how he remains an emotional stalwart.

You’ve performed The Lion hundreds of times. Isn’t it hard to not let your emotions overwhelm you while you’re performing?
As a writer, it was incredibly challenging to recall in unadorned detail what it was like to watch my father die—to take those memories and write them down in an objective way. But as a performer, I don’t need to relive it. I don’t feel sad to convey the sadness, because the writing does it for me. I let the emotion come out in the audience’s reactions. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t catch me sometimes.

See The Lion at the Strand Theater Apr. 19–May 1

 

Originally published in the April issue of San Francisco

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