ONLINE PREMIERE DECEMBER 6, 2021
Streaming is FREE 24/7, beginning with the premiere.
Captured at the Alexander Kasser Theater May 26–27, 2021
The play depicts one of the greatest debates in modern history. – Philadelphia Inquirer
In 1965, James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr., were invited to the Cambridge University Union to debate the resolution “The American Dream is at the expense of the American Negro.” The result was a provocative and profoundly insightful confrontation between Baldwin, one of the most powerful figures of the civil rights movement, and Buckley, often considered the father of 20th-century patrician conservatism.
In an intimate and dramatic counterpoint, the final scene of the performance features a brief, imagined exchange between Baldwin and his close friend and confidante Lorraine Hansberry, who died only weeks before the debate. Baldwin and Hansberry are portrayed by veteran Elevator Repair Service (ERS) actors Greig Sargeant and April Matthis, who—speaking both as their characters and themselves—contemplate what it means to be a Black artist working within and confronting historically white frameworks.
With both 1965 and 2021 in mind, Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge—through a starkly simple design and an acting style that favors intimacy over impersonation—presents the debate as real, immediate, and of this moment.
Elevator Repair Service
Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge
Conceived by Greig Sargeant with ERS
Directed by John Collins
Producer Mark Rossier
Associate Producer and Company Manager Hanna Novak
Assistant Director and Stage Manager Maurina Lioce
Production Manager Aaron Amodt
Costume Designer Jessica Jahn
Lighting Designer Alan C. Edwards
Sound Designer Ben Williams
James Baldwin Greig Sargeant*
William F. Buckley, Jr. Ben Jalosa Williams*
Mr. Heycock Gavin Price*
Mr. Burford Christopher-Rashee Stevenson
Lorraine Hansberry April Matthis*
*The Actor appears through the courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
To learn more about ELEVATOR REPAIR SERVICE
Aaron Amodt (Production Manager) has been involved with a number of ERS productions including tours of Gatz; Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf; The Select (The Sun Also Rises); Fondly, Collette Richland. In New York City he has worked with New York Theatre Workshop on Slave Play; What the Constitution Means to Me; Othello; Hadestown; and Lazarus. He has been involved with tours such as A Billion Nights on Earth (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental) and Ringling Brothers And Barnum And Bailey Circus. Outside of theatre Aaron collects commemorative telecom postage stamps and makes ghost photographs which you can find on IG @amodttech.
John Collins (Director) founded Elevator Repair Service in 1991. Since then he has directed or co-directed all of the company’s productions while also serving as the company’s Artistic Director. ERS productions directed by John include Cab Legs, Room Tone, Gatz, The Select (The Sun Also Rises), The Sound and the Fury, Arguendo, Measure for Measure, and numerous others. The company’s work, under his direction, has been seen in over a dozen countries as well as in cities across the U.S. John is an experienced sound designer and has worked for The Wooster Group, Richard Foreman, Target Margin Theater, and others. Current projects include Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge, a new adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, and a new project based on James Joyce’s Ulysses. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Fellowship, and a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.
Alan C. Edwards’ (Lighting Designer) work Off-Broadway includes the world premiere of Harry Clarke at The Vineyard, for which he received a Lucille Lortel Award; the world premiere of Kill Move Paradise at the National Black Theatre, for which he received a Drama Desk nomination; and Anna Deavere Smith’s Fires in the Mirror at the Signature Theatre, which also received a Lucille Lortel nomination. Regionally, he’s had the pleasure of designing four plays by Dominique Morisseau: Pipeline, Skeleton Crew (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Paradise Blue (Geffen Playhouse), and Detroit ’67 (Chautauqua Theatre Co.); Twisted Melodies, a new musical about Donny Hathaway at Center Stage Baltimore; and the new musical Lights Out: Nat King Cole at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, as well as its world premiere production at People’s Light & Theatre Co. in Malvern, PA in 2017. Additional credits include Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 and The Hot Wing King at Signature Theatre; Chasing Magic and Where We Dwell (by tap dancer Ayodele Casel); American Moor (Red Bull); Native Son (The Acting Company); Bluebird Memories featuring rap-artist Common (Audible Theatre); productions of Dutchman, Antigone, and Macbeth for the Classical Theatre of Harlem; and a special collaboration between CTH and The Apollo Theatre in New York, the new musical The First Noel by Lelund Durond Thompson and Jason Michael Webb. On Broadway he was the associate to Jennifer Tipton on The Testament of Mary. He is a graduate of Yale School of Drama, where he is also an assistant professor of lighting. For more information visit alancedwards.com.
Jessica Jahn (Costume Designer) A graduate of Rutgers University, with degrees in both Dance and Psychology, Jessica Jahn danced professionally in NYC before beginning a career in design. She has had the opportunity to work with directors such as Tina Landau, Tommy Kail, Francesca Zambello, Charles Randolph Wright, Tazewell Thompson, Leisel Tommy, Diane Paulus and Jessica Blank, as well as writers/composers Charles Fuller, Norah Ephron, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Kevin Puts, Jake Heggie, Steve Earle, Tracy K. Smith, Mark Campbell and Charles Busch. Known for her work in the traditional repertoire, she is also dedicated to innovative work within her field. Jessica collaborated on one of the earliest performances of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s In The Red and Brown Water, directed by Tina Landau. She designed Blue, written by Tazewell Thompson and composed by Jeanine Tesori, winner of the MCANA Award for Best New Opera, and worked with Jessica Blank, Eric Jensen and Steve Earle on The Public’s premiere of Coal Country. She was awarded both the Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk for her design of Charles Busch’s The Confession of Lily Dare. Jessica’s dedication to racial and social justice is based on her lived experience as a black woman, and she takes a holistic approach to her work through the lens of equity. Currently, she is a member of the steering committees of Opera America’s Women’s Opera Network (WON) and Racial Justice Opera Network (RJON), and also served as the inaugural chair to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee at the Glimmerglass Festival, and was the coordinator for their equity initiatives. She finds particular enthusiasm for her work with Turn The Spotlight, The Open Stage Project and Children of Promise NYC, organizations that provide mentorships and empower young people. Jessica is also an Adjunct Costume Design Professor with Brandeis University’s Theatre Arts Department, as well as Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts. jessicajahn.com
Maurina Lioce (Assistant Director and Stage Manager) With ERS: The Sound and the Fury; Arguendo; The Select (The Sun Also Rises) (tours); Gatz (tours); Fondly Collette Richland; Measure for Measure; Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf. NYC: Stage Management for Half Straddle, Adrienne Truscott, Jim Findlay, David Byrne, Sibyl Kempson’s 7 Daughters of Eve Theater & Performance Co., Andrew Ondrejcak, Mike Iveson, Erin Markey, Suzanne Bocanegra and Young Jean Lee. Maurina has been a member of Elevator Repair Service since 2014.
April Matthis (Lorraine Hansberry) is an Obie Award-winning actor and company member of Elevator Repair Service. Off-Broadway: Toni Stone (Roundabout); Fairview, LEAR (Soho Rep); Signature Plays—Funnyhouse of a Negro (Signature Theatre); IOWA, Antlia Pneumatica (Playwrights Horizons); On the Levee (LCT3). With ERS: Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge (Philadelphia Fringe Festival), The Sound & the Fury; Fondly, Collette Richland (NYTW); Measure for Measure (The Public); Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf (Abrons Art Center); Gatz (Perth Festival). Regional: Little Bunny Foo Foo (Actors Theater of Louisville), A Streetcar Named Desire (Yale Rep). TV: “The Blacklist” (NBC), “Evil”, “The Good Fight” (Paramount Plus), “New Amsterdam” (NBC). Film: Black Card, November (Phillip Youmans, dir.), Fugitive Dreams.
Hanna Novak (Company Manager and Associate Producer) With ERS: Fondly, Colette Richland, Seagull, and Gatz (tours). In addition to her work with ERS, Hanna is a playwright and director. Her plays have been presented at the New Ohio, The Wild Project, and the Performing Garage in New York City. MFA: Hunter College, Playwriting. BFA: NYU Tisch.
Gavin Price (Mr. Heycock) is a multidisciplinary performing and technical artist. He is a classically trained actor and vocalist and plays over 10 instruments. He is also a sound and video designer, as well as a Motion Capture technician. He has performed with Elevator Repair Service in Gatz; Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge; Seagull; Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf; Measure for Measure; The Select (the Sun Also Rises); The Sound and the Fury; Arguendo; Fondly, Collette Richland; A Sort of Joy (MoMA). His other projects include the award-winning short film Boccamazzo Construction; The Return of Adam (Metropolitan Museum of Art); XX-ID (New Museum); Merce Cunningham Retrospective (MCA); Saint Fortune, co-founder. He has also performed and designed with Mabou Mines, Tectonic Theater, CabinFever, Face the Music, 7 Daughters of Eve, Pandora Boxx & Mrs. Kasha Davis, Theater in Quarantine, and with Emily Pacilio as the dance comedy duo The Basics. Listen to his music on Spotify & iTunes: The Witch Ones, The Tender Band, Cabin Fever.
Mark Rossier (Producer) joined ERS as managing director and producer in April 2020 after being a fan of the company for 25 years. He came to ERS from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) where he held a variety of positions including, most recently, director of NYFA grants. He was also the director of development and marketing at the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York and marketing director at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and Capital Rep. He has served three terms on the nominating committee for the Lucille Lortel Awards and been on grant panels for the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and ArtsWestchester, among many others.
Greig Sargeant (James Baldwin) New York Theater Workshop: Bonnie’s Last Flight; Fondly, Collette Richland; The Little Foxes dir. Ivo van Hove ; The Sound and the Fury. The Public Theater: Measure for Measure; The Sound and the Fury. The Vineyard Theater: Strictly Dishonorable. BAM/Next Wave Festival: The Parable Conference. Baryshnikov Arts Center: Go Forth/Please Bury Me. ERS: Gatz. Target Margin: Uncle Vanya. Regional: The Walker Arts Center, REDCAT, Axial Theater, Johnny Carson Theater, Montclair State Theater, The Spoleto Festival. International: Culturegest – Lisbon, Vienna Festival, Holland Festival, Adelaide Festival. Film: Help Me Mary dir. by Annie Tippe, The Bad Infinity dir. by Graham Sack. Company Member: Target Margin Theater, Elevator Repair Service. Training: West Virginia University (MFA), William Esper.
Christopher-Rashee Stevenson (Mr. Burford) is a theater artist from Baltimore, Maryland. A current SUITE/SPACE (’20-’21) artist at Mabou Mines and an alum of Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab ‘18. His work as director and performer has been featured at The Performing Garage, The Tank, JACK, HERE Arts Center, The Actor’s Studio, American Repertory Theater, Millennium Film Workshop, Lincoln Center Education, LaMaMa, and the Eubie Blake Jazz Institute.
Ben Jalosa Williams (William F. Buckley, Jr. and Sound Designer) is an actor and sound designer. He produces and curates category : other (category-other.com), an award-winning platform for experimental audio. Collaborators include: Elevator Repair Service, Minor Theater w/ Julia Jarcho, Christina Masciotti, Suzanne Bocanegra, Kate Benson, and many others. Recent projects include Ulysses (Theater Basel), Studio Créole (Manchester Int. Festival), and Lost Sea, a video arcade art installation with Victor Morales. Awards for sound design: OBIE, Lortel, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and Third Coast International Audio Festival’s inaugural Audio Unbound Award (for Songs of Speculation, co-produced with Jillian Walker). Benwilliamsdotcom.com
December, 2019 | The Atlantic: The Famous Baldwin-Buckley Debate Still Matters Today
In 1965, two American titans faced off on the subject of the country’s racial divides. Nearly 55 years later, the event has lost none of its relevance, as a recent book attests.
Actors’ Equity Association (“Equity”), founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional Actors and Stage Managers. Equity fosters the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Actors’ Equity is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an international organization of performing arts unions.
Support for the office of Arts + Cultural Programming provided by the following: The Alexander Kasser Theater Endowment Fund, PEAK Performances Patrons, New Jersey State Council on the Arts.