Friday Arts: "Blood Done Sign My Name" comes to the stage in North Carolina

This week's historic election of Barack Obama has inspired much discussion and optimism about the future of race relations in the United States. It's also been a time to reflect on the past - how far we've come as a nation.

Theater enthusiasts in North Carolina will have an opportunity to reflect on local history regarding race relations this weekend. North Carolina native Tim Tyson, a renowned lecturer, writer, and professor at Duke University (and an Institute for Southern Studies board member), wrote his award-winning historical memoir Blood Done Sign My Name in 2005. The book has been adapted for the stage by writer and actor Mike Wiley. Directed by Serena Ebhardt (EbzB productions), Wiley's adaptation brings to life Tyson's story of Oxford, N.C. in 1970. Both book and play focus on the racially-motivated murder of a 23-year-old black U.S. Army veteran and the following social upheaval, including riots, boycotts, marches, and the burning of two tobacco warehouses. Wiley portrays almost 20 characters in Tyson's story.

Tyson's book, which also is being made into a film, has won numerous honors, including the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, the 2004 Christopher Award and the North Carolinian Award. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it won Tyson the prestigious Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion in 2006.

Wiley, 36, wrote the 90-minute adaptation himself, as he has done with several one-man plays recounting African-American history. Wiley's work, often focusing on pivotal moments in African American history, includes "Brown vs. Board of Education," "Jackie Robinson: A Game Apart," and "Dar he: The Story of Emmet Till."

After a limited engagement at Duke University this weekend, the play is scheduled to tour the state. The tour will include the full production was well as an abridged version for school audiences. To purchase tickets to this weekend's show, please contact the Duke University Box office. If you are interested in bringing this compelling history to your community please visit Going Barefoot. For more information on Mike Wiley visit Mike Wiley Productions.