Martinsville, Virginia


Piedmont Arts Presents Henry "Box" Brown

Piedmont Arts presents Mike Wiley’s riveting one-person play, One Noble Journey: A Box Marked Freedom, which tells the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave from Louisa County, Virginia, who escaped bondage by mailing himself to freedom in a small wooden box.

 Through Wiley’s spirited acting, Brown’s life unfolds like a Mark Twain adventure—perilous and somber at times, while humorous and heroic throughout.

 Brown’s harrowing tale begins at the death of his master, when his family is torn apart and parceled out to various beneficiaries of his master’s estate. Eventually, Brown marries and has children, only to have his wife and children sold to a new owner and never seen again. This devastating incident was Brown’s breaking point. He devised an ingenious escape plan—sealing himself in a wooden box for shipment to friends and freedom in Philadelphia.

 One Noble Journey: A Box Marked Freedom also recounts the daring and miraculous quest for freedom of Ellen Craft and her husband William, slaves from Macon, Georgia, who escaped to the North in December 1848 by traveling openly by train and steamboat, arriving in Philadelphia on Christmas Day. As the light-skinned biracial daughter of a slave and her white master, Ellen Craft used her appearance to pass as a white man, dressed in appropriate clothing, while her husband posed as her personal servant. Their daring escape was widely publicized, making them among the most famous of fugitive slaves. Abolitionists featured them in public lectures to gain support in the struggle to end the institution.

 Piedmont Arts presents One Noble Journey: A Box Marked Freedom on Monday, February 10 at 7 pm at the Black Box Theatre, located at 44 Franklin St. in Uptown Martinsville. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and are now on sale at Piedmont Arts, located at 215 Starling Ave., and online at

 About Mike Wiley

 Acclaimed actor and playwright Mike Wiley has spent the last decade fulfilling his mission to bring educational theatre to young audiences and communities across the country. In the early days of his career, Wiley found few theatrical resources to shine a light on key events and figures in African-American history. To bring these stories to life, he started his own production company, Mike Wiley Productions.

 Wiley has a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the 2010 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to his numerous school and community performances, he has also appeared on Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel and National Geographic Channel and has been featured in Our State magazine and on PBS’ North Carolina Now and WUNC’s The State of Things.

 Piedmont Arts is a nonprofit art museum and educational outreach center in Martinsville, Virginia that facilitates ongoing enrichment of the lives of the people of Martinsville, Henry County and the surrounding area, through positive exposure, education and experiences in the visual and performing arts.  Piedmont Arts is a statewide partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.  Learn more at