Mike Wiley

Mike Wiley performs one of his plays. He will be in Goldsboro March 4 and 5 to do “The Fire of Freedom” and “We Could Be Heroes” for sixth-graders, high school students and community leaders.

The Paramount Theatre has partnered with three local groups to bring a motivational program to all sixth-graders in Wayne County and also community leaders.

There will be two plays written by North Carolina playwright and actor Mike Wiley, who has brought several of his plays to the Paramount for general audiences. His focus is on black history.

His play “The Fire of Freedom” will be available to all sixth-graders, with shows at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. March 4 at the Paramount, located at 139 S. Center St. in downtown Goldsboro. The show and transportation to the theater are free for students.

There will be another show for sixth-graders March 5 at 9:30 a.m. at the Paramount.

That afternoon, at 2:30 p.m., there will be a show for students at Goldsboro High School and the Wayne School of Engineering, as well as community leaders, at Goldsboro High School. The show, “We Could Be Heroes,” is also free.

“Mike Wiley tackles some really heavy topics but he does it in a very sensitive, entertaining way,” said Sherry Archibald, Paramount Theatre director. “And he tries to lighten what’s happening in the best way that you can.”

Archibald said she wanted to bring Wiley back for some school shows and also a performance at Goldsboro High School for students and community leaders.

She said Wiley not only writes plays but also performs by himself in most of them, sometimes portraying up to 20 characters at a time.

“In ‘We Could Be Heroes,’ this is the first time he ever tells his own personal story,” Archibald said. “In this segment, he shares his challenges growing up in an abusive family situation to where he has come today. He is able to pursue his passion of performing and looking at social issues as a community together. He travels all over the world to do it.”

Archibald came up with the idea of the performances last fall and was hoping to find funding to do it in a year or so.

She spoke to Eddie Edwards, a member of Omega Psi Phi, who loved the idea. After Archibald pitched the idea to the general membership, they decided to help fund it and didn’t want to wait a year to do it.

Archibald also talked to Goldsboro Mayor Chuck Allen, who loved the idea, too, but didn’t want to charge the students anything, including transportation to the theater.

So, it ended up being a collaborative effort involving the Paramount Theatre Foundation, Omega Psi Phi, the city of Goldsboro and its Community Relations Department and Wayne County public schools.

“Because of the collaboration, we’re going to have 1,500 sixth-graders come here to the Paramount for three different shows,” Archibald said.

She’s hoping to fill the auditorium at Goldsboro High School for the performance of “We Could Be Heroes.”

“This is looking at whatever the students’ passion is, whether it’s arts or athletics or debate club, whatever, they can improve their situation when they follow what their passion is,” Archibald said.

“What I’m hopeful for is that there are just as many community leaders at this event as there are students. If you consider yourself a community leader, and that doesn’t mean you’re an elected official but maybe you’re serving on a board and helping to lead in some way, that’s the criteria. I want these kids to see, too, that these are the opportunities for you. There are so many roles in their community, and these leaders are here to support and participate with them.”