Julian Wiles, photo by @aleecesophia
Photo by @aleecesophia

Julian wiles
founder and Director emeritus

Playwright, director, designer and educator, Julian Wiles, founded Charleston Stage in 1978 and led the company for 45 seasons until his retirement in 2023.

Wiles grew up on a farm in Fort Motte, SC, and studied history and theatre at the College of Charleston (B.A. 1974). He moved to North Carolina to pursue graduate work in theatre design receiving an M.F.A. in Dramatic Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1976. He returned to Charleston and in 1978 founded Charleston Stage, the resident company of the Historic Dock Street Theatre, America’s first theatre. Under Wiles's leadership, Charleston Stage has become one of the region’s largest and most respected performing arts institutions, producing over 120 professional performances annually and including an extensive education program reaching over 25,000 young people each year.

During his 45 year tenure as Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Wiles designed, directed and produced over 300 plays and musicals for Charleston Stage. He has written 34 original plays, musicals, and stage adaptations, eight of which are published by The Dramatic Publishing Company. Many of his original works, such as The Seat of Justice, Gershwin at Folly, Beneath the Sweetgrass Moon, Denmark Vesey, Insurrection and JFK & Inga Binga celebrate the Lowcountry’s rich cultural heritage and history. More than 100 productions of Wiles’s published works have been performed across the United States and internationally.

Wiles received the National Youth Theatre Director's Award in 1988, Charleston’s NAACP Special Recognition Award in 2004, The South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts in 2010, and was inducted into the SC Theatre Association’s Hall of Fame in 2018. In 2021, he was awarded the University of North Carolina’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

In April 2024, Wiles will be inducted as a member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. The investiture of new members is under the auspices of the Education Department of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D. C. Membership in the College of Fellows of the American Theatre is one of the highest honors bestowed on educators and professionals of America’s educational and theatre community.

For more information on his original works visit julianwiles.com.