Joseph Mydell as
Paul Laurence Dunbar

Although I had heard of Paul Laurence Dunbar since I was quite young, it was not until I read one of his letters to his wife that I wanted to know more about him. The letter was so full of passion and wit. It was then I decided to put the man on stage. I wanted to show the mind behind such poems as "We Wear The Mask", "In The Morning", and "When Malindy Sings". Here was a man, African-American, born nine years after his parents had been freed from slavery, who went on to become the first national black poet; who made his living as a poet and writer. His friends ranged from the Wright Brothers in his home town of Dayton, Ohio to Frederick Douglas and W.E. Dubois. His travels took him from Dayton to The White House to London, England. He wrote in black as well as white dialect. His standard English poems covered a wide range of subjects, some pointedly romantic as well as ironic. He was a well-dressed, well-spoken man who loved down-home simple pleasures. He could be sharply critical and did not suffer fools, but was loyalty itself when it came to his friends. Dunbar's human nature informed all his work, therefore I wanted to put Dunbar the man, in his own words on stage. I trust I have succeeded in doing this.

It was Dunbar that brought me to England which has been my home for the past twelve years. After researching Dunbar's stay in England I was able to judge which of his letters would best reflect his stay there. The show since that time has had a large showing in England, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and East and West Africa. It is a joy to finally bring Dunbar home.

Joseph Mydell