Collaboration key to keeping arts accessible in pandemic

The Clayton Center continues to find inventive ways to make use of its resources during the pandemic. The latest is a collaboration with North Carolina based actor and playwright Mike Wiley.

Mike Wiley onstage

The last time Mike performed at The Clayton Center, he was in front of an auditorium full of high school students. Today, he has an audience of six – an audio and a light tech, a videographer, a photographer and two cameramen.

The performance is part of a reimagining of Mike’s catalog of eight documentary dramas into a virtual series that will be available for presenters and educators nationwide.

The stage set up for a Mike Wiley production.

Mike is an acclaimed artist whose mission is to bring educational theatre to young audiences and communities across the country. In the early days of his career, Mike found few theatrical resources to shine a light on key events and figures in African-American history.

Over the past decade, Mike 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 on stage at The Clayton center for a recent recording session.

Today is Mike’s fourth video session at The Clayton Center, and he has several more sessions scheduled. He plans to offer the pre-packaged film performances with live real-time streamed performances. An option for interactive audience talkbacks following the presentations will also be available.

Note: This project is part of an ongoing collaboration between The Clayton Center and the North Carolina Arts Council, the Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation, Jai Bradford’s Blue Umbrella Entertainment and Mike Wiley Productions.