“If the house is to be set in order, one cannot begin with the present, he must begin with the past.” – John Hope Franklin
Mike Wiley Productions is a driving force in the development and promotion of documentary theatre. Led by actor and playwright, Mike Wiley, the company’s plays span the worlds of Emmett Till, Henry “Box” Brown, Jackie Robinson and more. Each work in the company’s repertoire is designed to inspire audiences to examine America’s racial history, teach the lessons of the past and encourage the application of these truths to the present.
“I do these plays because I believe stereotypes and racism and things of that nature arise from fear — because we are scared of the unknown. When we were children, we were scared of the dark…because we didn’t know what was in the dark. We thought that box in the corner was a monster because we didn’t have the lights on to tell us that it was just a box. But when the lights came on and we saw it was just a box, the fear disappeared. The same logic can be applied to our perceptions of other cultures or religions or races. We turn the light on. We figure out who they are. We learn about them. Then we’re not afraid of them anymore.” – Mike Wiley
Prepare for a journey – a trip to times past that still have lessons for today.
Prepare for stories – the tales of men, women and children woven
into the complex fabric of race in America. Listen, react, be a voice for change.
Acclaimed actor and playwright Mike Wiley has spent the last decade fulfilling his mission to bring educational theatre to young audiences and communities across the country. In the early days of his career, Wiley found few theatrical resources to shine a light on key events and figures in African-American history. To bring these stories to life, he started his own production company.
Through his performances, Wiley has introduced countless students and communities to the legacies of Emmett Till, Henry “Box” Brown and more. His recent works include a one-man play based on Tim Tyson’s memoir Blood Done Sign My Name and The Parchman Hour, an ensemble production celebrating the bravery and determination of the Freedom Riders who risked their lives to desegregate Southern interstate bus travel in 1961.
Mike Wiley has a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the 2010 and 2014 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to his numerous school and community performances, he has also appeared on Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and National Geographic Channel and has been featured in Our State magazine and on PBS’ North Carolina Now and WUNC’s The State of Things.
Mike’s plays chronicle the lives of Emmett Till, Jackie Robinson, The Freedom Riders and more through one-man shows where he portrays 15-20 characters in a single performance.
In addition to his one man shows, Mike has written several plays for ensemble casts and also develops productions with other playwrights and musicians.
See Mike play every character in the story of Emmett Till and watch for a new film chronicling the brave and inspiring life of Henry “Box” Brown.
Not every story is long enough for a play, but many hold important lessons for us. The Parallel Lives podcasts tell the stories of William and Ellen Craft and Claudette Colvin as only Mike Wiley can.
Film Festival Best Actor Awards
In addition to his one-man shows, Mike has also written several plays for ensemble casts. These works revolve around The Freedom Riders of 1961, the lives of families left behind when military loved ones deploy, and the story of man who learned to read at 98. His collaboration with singer/songwriter Hiss Golden Messenger gives voice to 1920s West Virginia coal miners. His work with fellow playwright Howard Craft brings the fictional superhero Jade City Pharaoh to life, while his Parallel Lives podcasts tell the stores of real-life civil rights superheroes like Claudette Colvin.
“A depth and clarity as distinct as an entire cast of players could make them…
so packed that we are rapt from the very first word.”
Classical Voice of NC
“Intensely researched, brilliantly crafted…”
“An intensely physical actor and writer who can turn on the charm like nobody’s business.
When it comes to working a crowd, Wiley makes Bill Clinton look like a wallflower.”
“… a tour-de-force … a riveting evening of theater, one of the year’s ten best.”
Raleigh News & Observer
“Mike Wiley has delivered an astonishing play about a powerful moment in the Civil Rights Movement, and I am so thrilled to be producing it here now…. [The Parchman Hour] a moving story of moral courage and of ally-ship, and I believe that now is the time to explore how its themes resonate in our world today.”
Guthrie Theater Artistic Director
“A marvel to watch…”
Triangle Theatre Reviews