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Original play seeks to raise autism awareness
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COVINGTON, Ga. - The writers of an original play currently in rehearsal say they hope their work will raise awareness about autism.

The gospel stage play, “God’s Love…Can you hear?” was written by Newton County educator Devon Hines and Latanya Mitchell. It chronicles the lives of the Cameron family as they go about their daily lives dealing with their son and brother, Demetrius, an aspiring musician who is also autistic.

Hines said the play is based on a real life story.

“This play is based on a real life story. It’s based on my son. He’s autistic,” he said. “Also, I’m an educator. I’ve been an educator for 15 years, working with special needs kids.

Hines described how the play came to be.

“You know, I prayed about it one day and I said ‘God- give me something to share with the world about autism,” he said. “And He gave me the title.  It’s a song that my son recorded 5-6 years ago. And the name of the song is God’s Love.”

Hines said a friend suggested he do a play.

“She said ‘Why don’t you just go ahead and do a play and make it into something that people can see?’ So I started writing. I needed some help with the scripting and that’s when Latanya Mitchell came along.”

Mitchell said she and Hines attend church together. She said she was initially not sure that writing the play was for her.

“He had mentioned a play about autism and I was trying to figure out who could write it,” she said. “And he was like, ‘Well, God gave me you.’ And I said, ‘well, you hold that thought’ because I don’t know.

“He gave me the premise and everything- the characters, the things he wanted to see. He basically laid it out. He said, ‘I just need you to put it into a story.”

Mitchell said with the importance of the topic, she didn’t want to do it an injustice.

“I prayed about it as well,” she said. “So we met and I asked every question that I thought I had and he answered. So I’ve got this wealth of information. I said let me go home and write.”

Mitchell said it wasn’t an easy subject to write about.

“Not having that experience of having a child with autism, it was kind of hard,” she said. “I looked at videos, my daughter had mentioned a show to me on Netflix that I watched and I kind of got some more ideas.

“I had some stumbling blocks here and there, but I finally finished it.”

Hines said the play also include original songs and dance. 

The cast consists mostly of actors and actresses from Newton County. It features Markavian Darden as Demetrius with Tiffany Slaughter as his mom, Mattie, and Arlando Usher as Demetrius’ dad, Bernard.

Sierra Grundy plays Demetrius’ sister Cynthia and Jeffrey Lowe plays his brother Kenneth.  Eddrick Boswell plays best friend, Terrell.

The play will be performed Saturday, Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. in the auditorium of the NewRock Academy at 8134 Geiger St., in Covington. The tickets are $10.