Before the Civil War, Onondaga, Cayuga and Oswego counties were a hub of anti-slavery activity. Among thousands of African Americans who traveled the Underground Railroad north to freedom, many were temporarily housed by participating residents of Syracuse, Auburn, Oswego, Mexico and other area communities.
As a bold "conductor," Tubman made repeated trips to the South to shepherd freedom-seekers along the perilous routes. Her extraordinary resolve inspired Daise to research and create her show. The production shares perspectives of those who witnessed the transformation of Araminta Harriet Ross, abused as a child of slavery, to the visionary national figure she became. She lived in Auburn for more than 50 years until her death in 1913, and her home in that city is now a National Historic Landmark.
Daise's performance, blending personal narrative and evocative songs, received critical praise at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, two summers ago. Writing for the Charleston City Paper, reviewer Duffy Lewis called it "an engrossing tale of a legendary historic figure," adding that "Daise enthralls" in her multiple roles.
The Artswego Performing Arts Series will host the artist for an extended community residency that includes public school engagements in Oswego, Mexico and Marathon. She also will offer a special encore performance at the Community Folk Art Center in Syracuse on Thursday evening, March 5, at 7 p.m.
Inspired in Syracuse
A Rochester native who grew up in Syracuse, Natalie Daise has focused her career on the sea island culture of South Carolina. Some may remember her role in the Daytime Emmy-nominated "Gullah Gullah Island." She has received the Jean Lacy Harris Folk Heritage Award and the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina's highest honor.
"Bringing 'Becoming Harriet Tubman' to Central New York feels like coming full circle in my own development," said the versatile performer.
"I grew up with the snow and ice -- but also, the gorgeous springs and autumns. And I experienced my first play on a field trip from Nottingham High School," Daise said. "We saw Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' at Syracuse Stage, and it was mesmerizing!"
Tickets to "Becoming Harriet Tubman" are $15 ($5 for all students), available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu and by calling 315-312-2141.
Parking is included in the price of a ticket, and is available in the lot in front of Culkin Hall and the employee and commuter lots behind Hart and Funnelle residence halls. Patrons with disabilities needing assistance should call 315-2141 in advance of the performances. For tickets to the Syracuse performance, call 315-442-2230.
For more information about this and other SUNY Oswego arts performances, visit www.oswego.edu/arts.