Joseph Mydell as
Paul Laurence Dunbar




Joseph Mydell

A brilliant one-man show based on the work of the foremost black writer of the 19th century. Winner of "The Scotsman Fringe First Award" at the Edinburgh Festival. Joseph Mydell creates an evocative portrayal of both the poet and turn-of-the-century America.

Joseph Mydell as Paul Laurence Dunbar in "Lyrics of the Hearthside" puts the poems, prose and songs of Dunbar together in an evening of highly dramatic impersonation: Dunbar alive. Dunbar on stage. Dunbar performing his own works as he did so often throughout America. After careful research Joseph has brought together Dunbar's works in dialect and standard English, including letters that are not only brilliantly entertaining but reveal the human, often angry and proud soul of Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Paul Laurence DunbarPaul Laurence Dunbar was born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio. Thirty four years later after his travels, fame and a broken marriage he was to die of consumption in his home town. Among his classmates were the Wright brothers of aviation fame, Orville Wright was a printer and assisted Dunbar in publishing one of the first black newspapers in America. Later, Dunbar published his first book of poetry which came to the attention of American dean of letters William Dean Howells, who said, "Dunbar was the only man of pure African blood and of American civilization to feel the Negro life esthetically and express it lyrically." Success followed and Dunbar became the foremost black writer of the nineteenth century publishing four volumes of poems, four novels, various prose works and lyrics to many popular songs.

Dunbar's manager, who also handled Mark Twain, brought him to Britain in 1897 and performed his work to enthusiastic audiences. He collaborated with British composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor on a song cycle and an operetta. He wrote lyrics for the Broadway show In Dahorney which came to London's Shaftesbury Theatre and later had a command performance at Buckingham Palace.