Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till

The Performance

In 1955, a 14-year-old black Chicago youth traveled to the Mississippi Delta with country kinfolk and southern cooking on his mind. He walked off the train and into a world he could never understand — a world of thick color lines, of hard-held class systems and unspeakable taboos. Young Emmett crossed that line and stepped into his gruesome fate by whistling at a white woman. This riveting play chronicles the murder, trial and unbelievable confession of the men accused of Till's lynching. The one-actor, multiple-character original drama is available in 90-minute full-length production for mixed general audiences, plus a 50-minute student version, recommended for grades 8-up, with accompanying study guide.

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. The film premiered at the Pan-African Film Festival in L.A., subsequently being awarded “Best Film” honors at prestigious festivals including Black International Cinema Berlin and the San Francisco Black Film Festival. For more information about the film, visit DarHeMovie.com.

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.

In a Word…

"Mike is a brilliant artist and educator... mending the broken world through the power of story, and making scholarship and art speak to the breach in our common life..." - Tim Tyson, author of the best-selling BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME

"Dar He Is The Best of the Best... By our count, there were 426 theatrical productions in the Triangle in 2006; but only one of them - the stirring multimedia presentation of Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till - made all four Top 10 lists published by the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill news media. A one-man show written and performed by Mike Wiley and directed by Serena Ebhardt, Dar He was a devastating dramatization of one of the most infamous murders of the Civil Rights era... so packed with intense, tight characterizations and creatively-portrayed locales that we were rapt from the very first word. Those first words are spoken by Look reporter William Bradford Huey, as he begins to tell us what he learned from the men responsible for the death of 14-year-old Emmett "Bo" Till. Wiley is a marvel to watch as the characters he portrays appear and disappear before us. Wiley recreates Till, Huey, and all of the other characters with a depth and clarity that make each one readily identifiable, and as distinct as an entire cast of players could make them." - Robert McDowell, Triangle Theatre Reviews

"Mike Wiley’s ability to transform himself into many characters carries this film much farther than the usual acting triumph of multiple characters does, because by portraying an entire cast, black, white, female or male, he addresses the heinous nature of hate. His work reminds us in every frame that we are all of one humanity. His uncanny ability to transform himself allows us to experience this piece of history in all its horror. This is a seminal piece of American history all the more important for its disregard of justice or human life. By keeping the cast to one man playing many roles, we cannot ignore that we are all connected; Dar He invokes Anton Chekov’s words for the readers of his plays: to say to us “You live badly, my friends.” - Deirdre Haj, Executive Director of The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham, NC


Live Performance Preview