AT portrait  

Written and performed by W. Allen Taylor

For Immediate Release

Award-winning one-man show explores adventurous search for unknown father

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - With musical interludes celebrating the cultural legacy of black radio, In Search of My Father...Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins is a one-man show that follows a bittersweet journey of self-discovery and destiny as W. Allen Taylor * performs a range of richly defined characters. The story follows Taylor's adventurous search for his absent father, Bill Hawkins, the first black disc jockey in Cleveland, Ohio.

The play has received rave reviews and special recognition in each of its professional productions. In NYC, it was nominated for an Audelco Award for Best Solo Performance of the 2007-08 season after its successful run at the New Federal Theatre. In Cleveland, the extended production at the Cleveland Playhouse inspired the posthumous induction of Bill Hawkins into the Ohio Radio/Television Broadcasters Hall Of Fame. And the professional premiere at the Marsh Theatre of the SF Bay Area was honored by the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle with the award for best solo performance of 2006.

The show explores Taylor's adventurous search for information about the father he never knew. Bill Hawkins, who broadcast on various Cleveland radio stations, was not married to Taylor's mother and his identity was kept from Taylor for his entire childhood.

During his time on the air, Hawkins was one of Clevelands highest rated DJs who often broadcast from the front window of his Cleveland record shop. A former Pullman porter in the early forties, Hawkins played the best of jazz, rhythm & blues and gospel music on his popular programs and interviewed many musical celebrities that included Dinah Washington, The Dominos and Charles Brown. Hawkins was praised for being widely imitated and influential on a generation of DJs including Cleveland's rock n' roll "Moondog" Alan Freed.

Taylor, who has appeared on Broadway and in many regional theaters around the country, is also a college theater professor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Raised in Cleveland by his mother and grandparents, he grew up yearning to know his father. Taylor went on to Ohio State University and without knowing of his father's career, spent three years himself as a popular disc jockey for the campus radio station.

It was at Taylor's college graduation party that his mother finally revealed his father's identity, sharing the bittersweet news of his radio celebrity with the fact that he had passed away only months earlier. Thus began Taylor's journey that led to the creation of his play.

Using period rhythm & blues, gospel and jazz as a musical backdrop, Taylor weaves personal stories of surrogate fathers with unique historical recollections coming from composite characters that were created out of numerous interviews with people who actually knew Bill Hawkins.

In 1999, Taylor was sent to Cleveland to conduct these interviews by National Public Radio's "Lost and Found Sound" project. The project focused on Taylor's search for his father's voice and NPR featured excerpts of those interviews in an "All Things Considered" broadcast that aired that same year.

For more information and to listen to the NPR "Lost and Found Sound" episode, go to the media page link of this website.

*Member of Actors Equity Association