Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Taylor Made 

A Cleveland playwright relives the '60s through homeless eyes.

39232.0.jpeg
Cleveland playwright Fred Taylor is standing in the middle of Starbucks, imitating Yul Brynner imitating a horse. "I always wanted to do the Yul Brynner thing," says the 36-year-old Taylor, who points out that, while other actors studied actors, Brynner studied animal behavior. "He's one of my favorite actors."

Taylor's plays -- 15 so far -- are not so whimsical, however, and usually serve as a vehicle to forward a spiritual message. One of his recent creations, East 79th Street, which he produced and directed and acts in, runs this weekend at Kennedy's DownUnder. The drama covers the turbulent events of the late 1960s -- the Vietnam War, the Hough riots, and the Kent State shootings -- through the eyes of homeless people who are already dead, but must relive painful memories before moving on to the afterlife.

Nurtured by his father's acting at Karamu House and his own participation in church plays, Taylor recalls a penchant for theater "since I was old enough to think." His interest in the "spiritual realm" stems from a tumble down a set of cement stairs as a child, which led to an out-of-body experience.

"When we pass away, our whole life flashes before us in a twinkle of an eye," he says. That idea, coupled with his curiosity about the stories Cleveland's homeless people would have to tell, led Taylor to write a play with a "Twilight Zone quality" to it that spoke to the region's history. The music of the era also drew him to the subject, since he often uses music as inspiration.

"If I run out of ideas, I use the music," he explains. East 79th Street has 30 musical cues, ranging from Donald Byrd's "Christo-Redentor" to Jimi Hendrix. "I see images. I create plays like a dance choreographer creates."

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of Highlights

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation