Arts

Zoom into NC Stage for gripping theater

Asheville – At long last, we can see a play.  NC Stage is bringing a virtual production to viewers and selling tickets—using modern technology, through Zoom.  They are presenting a one-man show based on the gripping memoir by Tim Tyson.  Mike Wiley on September 10-27  will perform  “Blood Done Sign my Name” on Zoom to an audience.  

This play is so relevant to the activities taking place in the United States today.  It is the story of Henry “Dickie” Marrow, a 23-year-old U.S. Army veteran whose wife was pregnant with their third daughter, who was beaten down and shot to death in the street by Robert Teel, Teel’s 18-year-old son Larry, and Roger Oakley, Teel’s 21-year-old stepson, for allegedly making a remark to Larry Teel’s wife.  And no —contrary to what you may be thinking— this wasn’t a long long time ago, but in May 1970.  It was the Teels’ acquittal for their hotheaded hate crime that launched the city of Oxford, North Carolina, into a season of violent reprisals. 

According to the NC Stage website,”Each show will be performed in real-time over the digital platform Zoom, such that the audience will be able to see the performer, and the performer will be able to see the audience. For this production, the audience is projected onto a large screen in the seating area.”   The performances will be produced in partnership with The Clayton Center, in Clayton, NC where the performances will actually be held.  The Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7:30 pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2 pm.  (Note: September 17th – the show will start at 8 pm). 

Mary D. Williams, whose voice is reminiscent of Mahalia Jackson, will accompany the performance with gospel singing.  Tickets can be purchased online (ncstage.org) are pay-as-you-wish starting at only $20.  It should be mentioned that NC Stage is asking viewers to support their local theatre to the best of their ability, if more than one person is watching, hopefully, more tickets will be purchased.  Ticket sales will end at 12 pm on the day of each performance.  For further information go to ncstage.org or call 828-239-0263.

The highly talented Mike Wiley is an NC based playwright, actor and director who brings history to life with many of his productions. In his many dramas he portrays the stories of fugitive slaves, civil rights game-changers, sports heroes and freedom fighters.  Sometimes he introduces dozens of characters during the course of a single play, but there is only one man on stage – himself.  NC Stage opened its 2019-2020 production season here in Asheville with “The Fire of Freedom: The Story of Abraham Galloway”  (Note: last week’s edition of the Tribune devoted Page 2 in an article on the bravery of Abraham Galloway).

Wiley has a Masters of Fine Arts from the UNC-Chapel Hill.  Through his performances, Wiley has introduced countless students and communities to the legacies of Emmett Till, Henry “Box” Brown, Jackie Robinson and others. In addition to his one-man shows, he has also written several plays for ensemble casts.  His production company is seen as a driving force in the development and promotion of documentary theater. He is the 2014 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mike Wiley states his Mission:  “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.”