Playwright and actor Mike Wiley will present “One Noble Journey: A Box Marked Freedom” at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History on Friday night, on the third floor, at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
“One Noble Journey” is the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, an African-American who was born into slavery in 1816 in Louisa County, Va. It incorporates themes of freedom, love, hope, and determination.
Brown’s story demonstrates the cruelty of slavery, and how it was as devastating to the heart as it could be on the body. After the death of Brown’s first master, he was given to his master’s son, who sent him to work in a tobacco factory in Richmond. His family was torn apart and members of his family were parcelled out to other estates. His second master took his wife and children from him and sold them in another state, and at that point Brown reached his breaking point and came up with an escape plan that involved him being sealed in a small wooden box and shipped to freedom in Philadelphia.
Mike Wiley’s historical drama tells the story of Brown’s life — full of adventure, peril, heroism and somber moments as well, but also with humorous moments sprinkled throughout. Wiley is known for his one-person, multi-character theatre shows, which invite audience members to join in, becoming characters to help propel the action.
Wiley spent the first decade of his career focusing on bringing educational theatre to young audiences, and has expanded to include audiences nationwide. His motive is to bring often-ignored historical stories to life. He has his own production company — Mike Wiley Productions — and performs stories and legacies of Emmett Till, the Tuskeegee Airman, Henry “Box” Brown and more.
Wiley has a masters in fine arts from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has appeared on The Learning Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and the Discovery Channel. He is the Lehman Brady Visiting Professor at Duke University Center for Documentary Studies and was featured at the 2009 Black Theatre Festival. For more information, visit www.mikewileyproductions.com.
The performance at the museum is sponsored in part by a sub-grant from the Grassroots Program of the N.C. Arts Council and is presented by the museum and Surry Arts Council.
The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is located in downtown Mount Airy, at 301 N. Main Street. For more information, call the museum at 786-4478.