‘Blood Done Sign My Name’ and LSt help to shed light on NC civil rights in 1970

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’


Lee Street’s reputation for fostering new works and presenting socially-relevant themes is fulfilled in its current new work by Catawba graduate Mike Wiley.

In “Blood Done Sign My Name” Wiley brings to life the recollections of author Tim Tyson surrounding the 1970 murder of Henry “Dickie” Marrow in Oxford, NC and the events that followed. Marrow, who was black, was chased from a local store by three white men after reportedly making a crude remark to one of the men’s wives.

They brutally beat Marrow then killed him with a bullet to the head in view of multiple witnesses. Despite the eyewitness reports, an all-white jury acquitted the men.

The town’s black community responded to the events with an uprising that destroyed downtown businesses and several tobacco warehouses holding at least a million dollars in harvested crops.

Tyson, who was 10 at the time, recounts how the conflagration of events shaped his life and offers all of us an opportunity to examine our own roles in the complex and often confusing racial fabric of America.

Fannie Chavis (Kim Avery) and Dickie Marrow (Alex Thompson) discuss the realities of life in 1970 Oxford.
Photo by Tim Coffey.

‘Blood’ is directed by Lee Street Artist in Residence Craig Kolkebeck. Craig feels this production fulfills one of Lee Street’s important mission statement values of fostering new works. It also gives voice to societal issues stemming into the very fabric of today.

Mike and Craig’s personal relationship have helped to expand and create this work. Rod Oden, Lee Street technical director and newly appointed executive director, and Craig visited Oxford to do in-field research and to see the actual environment the story took place in.

Oden’s technical design of the show vastly changed after visiting Oxford and is reflected in this production.

Older Tim Tyson (Ed Whitney) looks on at Dickie Marrow (Alex Thompson).
Photo by Tim Coffey.

Bringing life to the citizens of Oxford are the cast for ‘“Blood,” which includes Ed Whitney, Matt Monte, Bob Paolino, Alex Thompson, Kurt Corriher, Tim Campbell, Hadassah McGill, Mason Livers, Kim Avery, Michael Connor, Sara Lee, Gabe Lee, Raquel Oden, and Lucas Oden. They perform multiple roles each, giving a varied and diverse performance experience. The production team includes Kolkebeck as director, Oden as production designer and Technical director, assistant stage manager Ruby Jones and stage manager Karissa Carpenter.

Lee Street will be holding an opening night talk-back with the audience, which will include playwright Wiley, Oxford oral historian and character in the production Eddie McCoy, production team, cast and crew.

Written by Mike Wiley, directed by Craig Kolkebeck, original music composed and performed by Bob Paolino. “Blood Done Sign My Name” runs April 18-27 at 7:30 p.m. at Lee Street theatre. General admission $17.55 / student tickets $10 at the door or at www.leestreet.org.

“Blood” has been produced with the financial assistance for grants from the Rowan Arts Council and the NC Arts Council.

Please note this production is recommended for mature audiences and features adult language, situations and racially charged language and themes. Parental guidance is advised.

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