Saturday, August 14, 2004

Carlos VerJuan Edwards, theater artistic director

Co-founder wrote plays

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

Carlos VerJuan Edwards, founding member and artistic director of the Cincinnati Black Theatre Company, died Aug. 3 of heart failure. He was 35.

"He was what you would call the heart and the creative juices behind the theater company," said founder Don Sherman. "Carlos was the first person to work with me on the project and we actually became best friends.

"He was not only artistic director but our playwright for the company, and he assisted with much of the writing for grant development.

"Carlos was always there to teach to others and served as an instructor in many writing workshops. He gave much of his time to the many long nights and hours in planning and preparing for administrative needs as well as production needs."

Mr. Edwards wrote and directed several of the plays produced at the annual Black Theatre Festival.

"I'm a realist as a writer," he told the Enquirer in a 2002 interview. "I like to deal with real-life situations that people don't always like to talk about or discuss. But, they will watch it on stage. If I'm angry about something I've seen or read, I kind of type it out - whether it is poetry or thoughts. Cincinnati gives a writer a lot to write about."

Among the plays he wrote are, The Kitchen Committee, Hues of Blues Cause Your Blues Ain't Like Mine and Smokin' It Over. He sold the movie rights to his Transition Patterns in Black Manhood to a local producer.

Mr. Edwards graduated from Aiken High School, where he started writing during his senior year. He held a bachelor's and a master's degree in public relations/journalism/advertising from Morehead State University. He was an academic counselor at Miami University before becoming assistant director of academic services and a senior adviser at the University of Cincinnati.

"He was a child of God and willing to help anybody," said his sister Julita Edwards of Bowling Green, Ohio.

Mr. Edwards was a member of Philippian Baptist Church and Phi Beta Sigma.

Other survivors include his parents, Paul and Gloria Edwards of Lexington; two other sisters, Paula Edwards of Cleveland and Kimberly Edwards; three brothers, Paul Edwards Jr., Richard Edwards and Aldra Ross of Lexington.

Services were held. Interment was at Vine Street Hill Cemetery.

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