Blood Done Sign My Name
In the best-selling book Blood Done Sign My Name, author and historian Tim Tyson recounts the 1970 murder of Henry "Dickie" Marrow in Oxford, NC and the events that followed. Marrow, who was black, was chased from a local store by three white men after he reportedly made a crude remark to one of the men's wives. They brutally beat Marrow then killed him with a bullet to the head in view of multiple witnesses. Despite the eyewitness reports, an all-white jury acquitted the men. The town's black community responded to the events with an uprising that destroyed downtown businesses and several tobacco warehouses holding millions of dollars in harvested crops. Tyson, who was a ten-year-old child in Oxford at the time, recounts how the conflagration of events shaped his life and offers all of us an opportunity to examine our own roles in the complex and often confusing racial fabric of America.
Actor and playwright Mike Wiley spent the first decade of his professional career fulfilling a focused mission to bring educational theatre to young audiences. His acclaimed work has now expanded to performing arts centers and universities nationwide and to film screens and festivals around the world. In the early days of his career, Wiley found few theatrical resources to shine light on key events and figures in black history. In an impressive body of original dramas, Wiley has introduced countless students to stories and legacies of Emmett Till, the Tuskegee Airmen, Henry "Box" Brown and more. Wiley holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has appeared on the Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and the National Geographic Channel, profiled in Our State and American Theatre magazines, and was named an Indy Artist of the Year in 2012. He is a former Lehman Brady Visiting Professor at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies has been jury-selected for professional industry showcases by both the Midwest Arts Federation, South Arts, Arts Northwest and Atlantic Presenters of Canada.
Since 2010, Wiley has been awarded multiple "Best Actor" awards at film festivals in the US and Europe for the impressive Rob Underhill short films EMPTY SPACE and WOLF CALL. The feature length film adaptation of Wiley’s play DAR HE about the lynching of Emmett Till, with Wiley himself playing a total of 35 roles, has reaped numerous citations and awards at festivals across the globe.
Wiley currently tours a total of seven original theatrical productions, including the newest work The Parchman Hour which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders. This play was selected as the special closing event, performed before many of the original Freedom Riders at their official 2011 reunion in Jackson, MS, a few miles from Parchman Farm.
Blood Done Sign My Name has twice been performed by invitation from the city to standing-room-only audiences in Oxford, NC -- where its own horrendous 1970 murder took place.
In a Word…
"A few more like this and I'm going to request that all Temple Theatre productions be reduced to one- or two-man shows... Wiley's performance is one of the best the Temple has seen in years. Mary D. Williams' powerful freedom song a capella gospels left the crowd speechless...." - Sanford (NC) Herald
"An astonishing work, both in its content and in its performance. Wiley's singular performance brought a series of six [Duke University] packed houses to their feet.... - CVNC.com
"Mike Wiley is a brilliant artist and educator... This is about mending the broken world through the power of story, and making scholarship and art speak to the breach in our common life. I am proud to have Mike as a colleague in those efforts..." - Tim Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name
A Presenter's Point of View
As the Nash-Rocky Mount High School Teacher of the Year for 2010, I found myself with the unique opportunity to put my cash "award" to work in a way that could
impact both my school and my community. After teaching the book, I believed it was important to donate my award as a "deposit" to bring the play Blood Done Sign My Name to both my school and my community. Mike Wiley performed both for our students at Rocky Mount Senior High, followed by a public evening performance at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts at Wesleyan College. In all my years of teaching, I can think of no greater history lesson for my students and my community. Mike Wiley is spell-binding, brilliant, sensitive and remarkable. I promise you will be as inspired as I am when you see his outstanding performance and this compelling theatrical work."
- Betsy Hester, Teacher-of-the-Year, Rocky Mount, NC