Mike Wiley

The Performance

Mike Wiley’s acclaimed original dramatic theatre works are built on pivotal moments in African-American history, and his new definition for the inspired blending of art and education has been acclaimed across the country.

Formerly of Theatre IV and Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, Mike Wiley has more than twelve years specializing in theatre for young audiences. That work has expanded into regional theatre, television and film. A gifted playwright and actor, his overriding goal is expanding cultural awareness for all audiences through dynamic, character-rich portrayals of pivotal events that form the history of the American experience.

He has served as the Lehman Brady Visiting Professor at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies and is recipient of a 2012 Indy Arts Award. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill's M.F.A. program, Wiley now tours nationwide with a repertoire of powerful, acclaimed original theatrical works, many of which feature Wiley in multiple roles in one production.

"You marvel at the chameleon nature of his character changes and the technique he uses to do that,” says Ray Dooley, head of UNC’s Professional Actor Training Program from which Wiley graduated in 2004. “To see someone use that masterful technique in the service of such worthy, important and compassionate material—really, every time I see Mike, it's a highlight for me."

Photo Credit: DL Anderson.

Current touring productions include the following:

  • One Noble Journey, in which he portrays more than 20 characters in the true tale of Henry "Box" Brown who mailed himself to freedom in a crate labeled "This Side Up"
  • Brown vs. Board of Education, encapsulating the impact of the pivotal ruling for desegregating schools
  • Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart, with penetrating lessons of courage and leadership from heroic African-American athletes
  • Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till, chronicling the 1955 Mississippi murder, trial and confession of the men accused of the horrific death of 14-year-old Emmett Till
  • Tired Souls: The Montgomery Bus Boycott, documenting the days following Rosa Park's refusal to relinquish her bus seat and the accounts of those who held tight to their bus money and walked for freedom for 381 days
  • Blood Done Sign My Name, based on author Tim Tyson's searing best-selling chronicle of the 1970 racial murder in a small North Carolina town
  • The Parchman Hour, a riveting dramatic commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders -- Wiley’s first ensemble production featuring a ten-member company and musicians

Click here for PRX public radio 8-min. news feature about Mike Wiley’s DAR HE: THE STORY OF EMMETT TILL.

In the past two years, Wiley has gained international acclaim for his work in two Rob Underhill film shorts EMPTY SPACE and WOLF CALL, and his newest feature-length film DAR HE: THE LYNCHING OF EMMETT TILL, adapted from the play, in which Wiley portrays all 35 characters in the course of the remarkable film.

Mike Wiley's touring repertoire is available in 50-min. student productions for varying grade levels, with accompanying study guides. Four of his plays are produced in full-length two-act versions, in frequent performance for college and adult audiences at major performing arts centers throughout the U.S.

In a Word…

"… tour-de-force … a riveting evening of theater, one of the year's ten best." - Raleigh News & Observer

"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." - Independent Weekly

"Mike 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..." - Author Tim Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name

"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

"I've never found any other artist who (1) delivers more valid educational content, (2) involves and connects with school audiences more successfully, or (3) is more pleasant to work with. He has a knack for taking sensitive and sometimes painful topics, and making them accessible in non-threatening — even humorous — ways. You will not regret bringing him to your school." - Christian B. Rothwell, Chorus/Drama Specialist, Apex NC

A Presenter's Point of View

Mike Wiley's creative vision and abilities are so broad and magnetic that he changes your space with his presence. He dives to deep reaches of truth and possesses a gift that peels away barnacles of misunderstanding. Mike's performances nurture opportunities for self-discovery and interpersonal respect like none I've seen in a long time. He's one of those persons for whom you search to find ways to thank. "Mike Wiley" doesn't leave when the curtain comes down. Whether you're a child or an adult, what he brings doesn't come with an expiration date.

Live Performance Preview