When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers by Paul Laurence Dunbar as presented in October 2017 at the MERCER MUSEUM in Doylestown, Pennsylvania
A Smithsonian Museum of American History.
Music: Ashokan Farewell by Jay Unger
Used by permission.
Mark O'Connor's version on Heroes CD
Oni's most popular program, features the southern dialect spoken word poetry of poet & author, Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906).
Set during the 1800's on a plantation in Cross, So. Carolina, the home of Oni's paternal grandmother. 'Lias' Mother is a highly interactive storytelling play.
It reveals the personal heartfelt experiences of a woman living on a plantation in America.
Elias, or 'Lias for short, is a fictional character mentioned in Dunbar's most beloved and recited poem, In The Morning. Lasana brings the poems to life, with music, movement and a simple yet elegant delivery with her engaging monologue.
Since 1994, Oni studied Dunbar's life, poetry and performs with the Bob Jones Dance and Theater Ensemble of the Coatesville Cultural Society of Chester County Pennsylvania.
Some times 'Lias' Mother travels with her young son, most times she discovers 'Lias sleeping in the audience. "Lias' Mother brings out the best in her co-actor, be they a youngster or an elder.
The finale of "Oni Lasana Doin' Dunbar as 'Lias' Mother" culminates in a audience "rap-along" of Dunbar's most beloved standard english poem, Sympathy aka I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
Oni Lasana arranged the poem to the hip hop music of Timbaland, giving Dunbar's classic poem a modern unforgettable twist.
MERCER MUSEUM 2017
"I appreciated Oni Lasana's seamless weaving of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poetry with her own storytelling narrative. Oni has created a feisty woman who speaks her mind!"
Ray Gray, Storyteller
ONI LASANA DOIN' DUNBAR
AS 'LIAS' MOTHER
Was featured at the 26th Annual National Black Storytelling Festival & Conference
"Follow The Drinking Gourd"
Celebrating Heroes & Sheroes of Freedom
November 2008, Cincinnati, Ohio
PATCHWORK, a storytelling guild's TELLABRATION in 2008 & 1999
Paul Laurence Dunbar's most loved and recited poem comes to life as Oni comforts Elias as only a mother can. With tender loving care, good advice and a little discipline.
* REPERTOIRE *
In The Morning
When De Corn Pone's Hot
De Way T'ings Come
Keep A 'Pluggin' Away
A Coquette Conquered
My Sort O'Man
When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers
When Malindy Sings
De Critters' Dance
An Ante-Bellum Sermon
~ ~ ~
"Oni is the voice of Dunbar" Professor & Author Nikki Giovanni, Virginia Tech
"Many hearts were touched by your rendition of 'Lias' Mother."
Debbie Allen, Actress, Director & Co-producer of Amistad, LA, California
"I felt like I was in the cabin with you." Audience member at African American Museum, Philadelphia
"A MUST SEE!...Moving, enriching and a great addition to any college campus program...call her now!"
Kim Poast, Community College of Denver, Woman Of Color Conference
"Thank you so much for coming to my retirement celebration and for sharing your special poetic skills to entertain me and my guest. As always, you were terrific! Your Dunbar sketches are so special because they keep our rich cultural alive, in the hearts and memory of our people. Tuta Anana Tena, Hotep! Fondly,
Carolyn L. Holmes, Ph.D.
Director of African and African-American Studies Department, Philadelphia Board of Education
Former Supervisor Prof. @ Drexel University, PA.
Lincoln University, PA
Cheyney University, PA
Virginia Tech University, VA
Tobago Heritage Festival
Dunbar House - Dayton, OH
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Mercer Museum of Doylestown, PA
Diego Martin Library of Trinidad
East Stroudsburg University, PA
Johnson House, Philadelphia, PA
Woman Conference, Community College of Denver, Colorado
Retirement Party - African American Museum of Philadelphia
Freedom Village Sr. Living, Brandywine, PA
Bucks County Free Libraries, Pennsylvania
Manassas Park City Schools, Virginia
DoDD Schools in Heidelberg, Hamburg, Kaiserslautern, Würzburg, Amburg, GERMANY
People's Light & Theater Co, Malvern PA
Indianola School District, Mississippi
Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Los Angeles
West Chester Historical Society & Museum
Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery, History Dinner Theater, Latrobe, PA
Many more, schools, family reunions, libraries, senior centers, residencies, workshops & storytelling festivals.
The Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery, Latrobe, Pennsylvania 2016
Elias comes in all shapes, sizes and ages!
Loves 'Lias' Mother as much as she loves them!
Professor of English, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
What a triumph! We actually had to turn fifty people away.
You were superb! The audience laughed and cried and laughed and got hungry and clapped and laughed some more. We all absolutely loved you and can't wait until you are able to schedule us again.
Paul Laurence Dunbar would be extremely proud to see this daughter of the north, as he himself was a son of the north, taking up his voice to keep the hope, joy and dignity of a people now gone alive. You made us all so very proud, Oni, to be children of the sun.
Your sister in poetry,
Paul Laurence Dunbar's most recited & loved southern dialect poem.
'LIAS' MOTHER LOVES SENIORS
ONI LASANA DOIN' DUNBAR AS 'LIAS' MOTHER
This engaging one woman theatrical production mixes the pathos and humor of Paul Laurence Dunbar's most loved dialect poems. A literary and historian's delight, it is a highly interactive spoken word experience.
Set during the Civil War in the 1800's, Oni Lasana Doin' Dunbar as 'Lias' Mother is a unforgettable heartfelt journey in American History, Literature and Music.
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Storytelling ~ Theatre ~ Language Art - Music ~ History
Philadelphia ~ Coatesville, Pennsylvania ~ Tobago