Be on the lookout for a powerful one-man show
Linda Armstrong | 4/12/2011, 4:34 p.m.
Trump Plaza on Riverside and West 70th Street was the place to be on Saturday evening as New Federal Theatre held a fundraiser for its upcoming production, "In Search of My Father...Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins." The one-man show is the autobiographical story of playwright/performer W. Allen Taylor who searched for the identity of his father for years, only to finally learn that he was the first Black radio DJ in Cleveland, Ohio--Bill Hawkins.
Taylor spoke candidly to the packed room, which included Terry Williams, playwrights Micki Grant and Michael Dinwiddie, Dr. Glory Van Scott, actress/singer Sandra Reaves Phillips, actor Kim Sullivan, New Federal Theatre founder, Woodie King Jr., Jackie Jeffries, co-founder of Take Wing & Soar Productions, and a host of other actors and theater patrons.
Taylor spoke to the audience about his acting background and the fact that he actually did a little DJ work in college. He shared how he felt growing up in the '50s and '60s and not knowing who his father was while all the kids around him had fathers at home.
In 1998, Taylor put pen to paper and wrote the play. It was workshopped in 1999 and produced professionally for the first time in 2006 in the Bay Area. That year it won the award for Best Solo Performance from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.
Although his father wasn't in his life, Taylor portrays numerous people who played very important roles in his life. He hopes that those who come to see the show will be inspired through his story to seek out loved ones they have been estranged from and show them love while those people are still alive. He explained that writing this play was healing for him and it's his gift to his father--his way of making sure that his father's position in radio history in Cleveland was acknowledged. The year the show was performed, Bill Hawkins was inducted into the Cleveland Ohio Radio DJs Hall of Fame, Taylor proudly declared.
"In Search of My Father...," which is directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang, will be performed June 5-29 at Henry Street Settlement's Abrons Art Center/Recital Hall, located at 466 Grand St. For tickets call (212) 353-1176.