[CLINTON, N.C.] – Audience participation was the name of the game as “Jackie Robinson” played to a crowd at Sampson Community College. Mike Wiley, a North Carolina based actor and playwright, played the legendary baseball player at the college’s Activities Center this week. The play reenacted Robinson’s life on and off the baseball diamond.
PHOTO: Dr. Bill Starling (L) and Mike Wiley work together during performance.
“It’s not just about Jackie,” said Wiley. “Yes, it’s about his early childhood and the beginnings of his adult life but it’s also about several other African-American athletes who broke the color barrier in their respective sports.” It was the second performance in Sampson County this week as Wiley performed the play earlier for Tarheel Challenge cadets this week. First Lady of North Carolina, Kristin Cooper attended that performance as well. Wiley has spent the week mentoring cadets at the Tarheel Challenge Academy.
PHOTO: Mike Wiley (L), Dr. Bill Starling, and Kara Donatelli, Director of Sampson Arts Council.
The play, funded by the North Carolina Arts Council, provides a glimpse of Jackie Robinson’s life during a bygone era of separate and unequal locker rooms, of whites only hotels, and of restaurants with only a back door for colored athletes to enter. During the play, Wiley interacts with and calls audience members on stage to participate in the story. Afterwards, fans were able to ask Wiley questions about Robinson and the play and exchange stories. The play was sponsored by the Sampson Arts Council.
Mike Wiley | Official Site.