Ebony Road Players

Written by Javier Jauregui

The human mind has a tendency to focus on the differences, categorizing and separating objects, even people. Music is a perfect example. The genre of rock that can be broken down into various sub-genres. There is progressive-rock, post-rock, psychedelic-rock, electronic-rock, rap-rock, alt-rock, modern-rock, hardcore-rock, synth-rock, afro-rock, folk-rock. You get the idea. It is human nature to find similarities and differences. Yet, this instinct has created a long history of tension.

One early morning in Central Point, Virginia, on July 11th, 1958, two county deputies and their sheriff raided the home of a married couple. They forced their way into the bedroom, glared their lights to the individuals on the bed, as if they were animals, and with the voice of thunder asked, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?”

That woman was Mildred Loving, devoted wife of Richard Loving. The two married in Washington D.C. five weeks earlier. A wedding certificate hung in their bedroom validating the vows made to each other. Virginia law considered it a crime to marry outside of the state only to return. Furthermore, it was a felony that Mildred and Richard married in the first place, punishable by up to five years in prison. Virginia was one of many states that outlawed interracial marriages, known as miscegenation at the time.

To protect and serve. This motto originated with the Los Angeles Police Department, but has been adopted by the American consciousness to represent the ideal of all police departments. That July morning, Virginia police officers intended to protect and serve white supremacists, whose goal was to ensure that the races did not mix. The Lovings challenged the law, taking their case to the United States Supreme Court.

In A Simple Question, Producer Edye Hyde presents the story of the Lovings, starting with the question, “Will you marry me?” Written by Randy Wyatt, five women of Ebony Road Players explore the history of Loving vs Virginia, along with present day experiences, questioning the current narrative of racial identity, marriage, and love.

Hyde finds the court case to be significant, especially because she belongs to a multiracial household. Her passion is in stories, in helping other find their voice. Ideally, she wants to help playwrights and actors of color share their realities with others. By doing so the audience, the dominate culture, can see the subculture’s history and understand it through their lens. As Hyde explains, living in a world with one reality, one perspective, will marginalize individuals and communities who have a different narrative.

The goal of Hyde, and Ebony Road Players, is to present history and learn from it. Their performances are but a mirror, reflecting the stories of others. What the audience does with that knowledge is out of their control.

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On June 12th, 1967, eleven years after their home invasion of the local police department, the Supreme Court recognized the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Loving. In an unanimous decision, the court ruled that their marriage is protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In 2015, the Supreme Court cited Loving vs Virginia as precedent for equal marriage rights, recognizing same-sex marriage as constitutional.

How is it that some can get so caught up in our differences, that we fail to recognize our similarities? Our desire and need for love is what should bond our society together. There is no reason to focus on how that love is displayed or expressed. A Simple Question compels the viewer to ask, “How do I segregate? What stories have I ignored that need to be heard? How are we similar?”

One question can start a revolution.

What kind of question do you need to ask?

Ebony Road Players are Producer Edye Evans Hyde, Director Jason Marlett, Stage Director Deirdre Cunningham, Writer Randy Wyatt, and Actresses Alice Kennedy, Ally Rzesa, Brooke Bruce, Matty Hagger, and Syreeta Nelson

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2011 West Michigan Jazz Society Musician of the Year Edye Evans Hyde has been singing jazz, blues and pop music for over 30 years in West Michigan, Los Angeles, Asia and Europe.  Over the years, Edye shared the stage with world-renowned blues singer Linda Hopkins, pop singer Michael Bolton, vocalist Maria Muldaur, actress Connie Stevens, the late Ray Charles, and Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval.

Edye’s theatrical performances include principle roles in Dream Girls, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Smokey Joe’s Café, Little Shop of Horrors, Blues for an Alabama Sky, Intimate Apparel, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Ragtime, and Having Our Say.

Edye also appears with The Grand Rapids Symphony as a narrator for the Symphony Lollipops and sang with The West Shore Symphony performing songs from her acclaimed albums Girl Talk and Lady with A Song.  She recently released her newest album, Magic In His Eyes.  You can find the recording on www.cdbaby.com.

Currently, you can see Edye on the children’s DVD series Come on Over, the web series Backstage Drama, and other film and television productions.

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