“Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?” This was the topic on February 18, 1965 when an overflow crowd packed the Cambridge Union in Cambridge, England, to bear witness to a historic televised debate between James Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and William F. Buckley Jr., a fierce critic of the movement and America’s most influential conservative intellectual. The stage was set for an epic confrontation that pitted Baldwin’s call for a moral revolution in race relations against Buckley’s unabashed elitism and implicit commitment to white supremacy.
On three consecutive nights, the american vicarious will gather to restage this historic debate in the run-up to the 2020 Presidential election. Broadcast live nightly, on YouTube and cable, this historic clash reveals the deep roots and lasting legacy of racial conflict that continues to haunt America.
Adapted & Directed by Christopher McElroen
Resident Artist: Jaymes Jorsling
James Baldwin: Teagle F. Bougere
William F Buckley: Eric T. Miller
David Heycock: Spencer Hamp
Norman St John Stevas: Kevin Cristaldi
Jeremy Burford: Charlie O’Rourke
President: Daniel Marconi
Video Design: Adam J. Thompson
Costume Design: Elivia Bovenzi
Lighting Design: Zach Weeks
Sound Design: Andy Evan Cohen
Christopher McElroen is a Brooklyn based media producer and director. Most recently, Christopher directed (A)loft Modulation, a world premiere play from Jaymes Jorsling . He developed Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation in collaboration with four-time Grammy Award nominee, Gerald Clayton. Christopher received a 2013 Helen Hayes Award for his direction of the world premiere stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison’s iconic novel Invisible Man. Alongside visual artist Paul Chan and Creative Time, Christopher co-produced and directed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a yearlong community development through the arts initiative in post-Katrina New Orleans. The project was recognized by the New York Times as one of the top ten national art events of 2007. The archives from the production have been acquired into the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and were on exhibit at MOMA May 2010 through September 2011. Christopher had the honor of directing the world-premiere of 51st (dream) State, the final work of poet, musician and activist Sekou Sundiata. 51st (dream) State was a multimedia exploration of American empire that premiered in New York at The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival before touring internationally. Christopher co-founded the Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) where from 1999 – 2009 he produced 41 productions yielding 18 AUDELCO Awards, 6 OBIE Awards, 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, a Drama Desk Award and CTH being named "1 of 8 theatres in America to Watch" by the Drama League.
the american vicarious, under Artistic Director Christopher McElroen, Producing Director Erica Laird and Executive Producer Tony Micocci, was formally incorporated in 2018 and is committed to producing creative content across disciplinary boundaries that aspires to reflect on America’s ideals and realities, and that which unites and divides its people. Recent projects include Jaymes Jorsling’s (A)loft Modulation, Gerald Clayton’s concert installation Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation, and Sherief Elkatsha’s documentary film Far From the Nile. The american vicarious just produced Static Apnea, a socially distanced performative installation in partnership with The Invisible Dog, Brooklyn.
Jaymes Jorsling was a 2016-17 Artist-in-Residence at Brown University. There, he worked on his play trilogy "...Insufficient Funds..." named from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have A Dream Speech. (The trilogy addresses where America is headed, unless fairness and freedom become as inalienable as they are obliged to be). In 2015 he was commissioned by Duke University to write the script for multi Grammy nominee Gerald Clayton's sprawling oeuvre Piedmont Blues: A Search For Salvation (the piece is now touring internationally). Jaymes is currently a staff writer for TheTruthPodcast.com. He has workshopped his writings with Classical Theatre of Harlem, LAByrinth Theatre Company, HIP-HOP Theater Festival, New Federal, Inneract Productions, etc. He is a 4x finalist for the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights' Conference, and was a fellow there in 2010. He has been a finalist for the LARK's Playwrights Week and was nominated for their prestigious PONY award. He's won best Screenplay at the San Francisco Black Film Festival. Jaymes has also acted on The Wire, The Affair, Law & Order, etc. as well as having done voice-overs for Nike, NewBalance, Ford Escort, Dunkin' Donuts, Champs Sports, and others. Produced by the american vicarious, his play (A)loft Modulation premiered off-Broadway in September 2019.
DEBATE: Baldwin vs Buckley features:
Teagle F. Bougere recently co-starred with Catherine Zeta-Jones in the TV series “Queen America.” Select film and television: “A Night At The Museum;” “The Pelican Brief;” “Two Weeks Notice;” “The Imposters;” “The Mist;” The Path;” “Cosby;” “The Big C;” “The Job;” “A Gifted Man;” “Conviction:" “What The Deaf Man Heard” and seven episodes for the “Law and Order" franchise. Broadway appearances include “The Tempest” (Caliban) with Patrick Stewart, directed by George C. Wolfe; “A Raisin In The Sun” with Phylicia Rashad and “The Crucible.” Select Off-Broadway: “The New Englanders,” Manhattan Theater Club;” “Beast In The Jungle,” Vineyard Theater, directed by Susan Stroman; “Is God Is,” SoHo Rep;” “A Last Dance For Sybil” by Ossie Davis, starring Ruby Dee and “Coriolanus” at The New York Shakespeare Festival. “Coriolanus” was Mr. Bougere’s thirteenth appearance with the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater. Past turns at the festival include Plato in “Socrates (with Michael Stuhlbarg); Caska in “Julius Caesar;" Eros in “Antony and Cleopatra,” directed by and starring Vanessa Redgrave; and “Cymbeline,” directed by Daniel Sullivan.
Eric T. Miller's theater credits include Mope (Ensemble Studio Theatre), (A)Loft Modulation (the american vicarious), Awake and Sing! and Ripcord (Huntington Theatre), rogerandtom (HERE), Sweet Storm (LAByrinth), Wink (TerraNova), Couriers and Contrabands (TimeLine Productions), Luft Gangster (Sheen Center), Safe Home (Royal Family Productions), Betrayed (Culture Project) as well as work at the Hangar Theater, Syracuse Stage, Bard Summerscape, New York Stage and Film, Rattlestick, PS 122, Workshop, and the Flea. Television and Film credits include Blue Bloods, Chicago PD, Blacklist, Limitless, I Love You but I Lied, Forever, Person of Interest, Elementary, The Unusuals, Kings, Law & Order, Shame, Reaching Home, Fly Away, The Waiting Room, Coffee, LVJ, Home, Tom’s Dilemma, the web series AdFirm, the upcoming films Room 220, Separation, and Josie & Jack, and the upcoming Television Series Mare of Easttown and Halston. www.erictroymiller.com
Spencer Hamp is originally from Seattle, WA, and settling nicely into Brooklyn. Some recent stage acting: off b'way debut in (A)LOFT MODULATION (the american vicarious) dir. by Christopher McElroen, working with MacArthur genius Naomi Wallace on a new version of her play BIRDY (Commonwealth Shakespeare), and playing Alan Strang in EQUUS (Pittsburgh Public Theater). Screen acting: in music videos for Erik Blood and Hunter Lea, a guest spot in "Law and Order: SVU," and a brief role in Jimmy Bontatibus' feature A MUSE (2020). Spencer just wrapped production on Bontatibus' third feature, ALL I'VE BEEN WANTING, which was shot in New York. Spencer is an avid movie-watcher and book-reader, bakes things, and, at times, makes music.
Charlie O’Rourke is a New York based actor and innovator. He has performed in Merrily down the Stream, a one-act play written and directed by Deborah Copeland at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts black box theater. He also assistant-directed Godspell and performed in Shenandoah: The Musical at Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville, PA. O'Rourke graduated from the MFA program at American Conservatory Theater in 2019. Production highlights from ACT include Baron Tuzenbach in Three Sisters, Nathan Leopold in Never the Sinner, and directing/choreographing Chuck Mee's Wintertime. After graduation, he returned to New York City and originated the role of Brenden in Cat Miller's new play The Hope Hypothesis at The Sheen Center with Voyage Theater Company. He is also featured in Peer to Peer Production's new web series Flawed. O'Rourke currently lives in Manhattan, and is incredibly excited to be working with the american vicarious.
Daniel Marconi feels exceedingly grateful to be joining this project. A Wagner College Alum, he has appeared at several regional theatres, including the Paper Mill Playhouse and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, while also performing On and Off-Broadway in NYC. Some recent credits include The Mountains Look Different with the Mint Theatre Company and The Butcher Boy with the Irish Repertory Theatre. He can also be seen on the big and small screen in projects such as BOARDWALK EMPIRE, THE BLACKLIST, and DANIEL ISN’T REAL. Many thanks as always to his family and his brilliant agents at HCKR, as well as Stephanie and Christopher for this exciting opportunity.
Kevin Cristaldi’s off-Broadway credits include (A) Loft Modulation (the american vicarious, directed by Mr. McElroen), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Masterworks), A Dish for the Gods (Lion Theatre), The Dirty Talk (Center Stage), and Message to Michael (Rattlestick). Regional work includes To Kill a Mockingbird (Cincinnati Playhouse), When I Come to Die (Kansas City Rep), The Exonerated (Florida Studio), Uncle Vanya (Hudson Theatre Works), Eddie Legs (Lillian Theatre, L.A.), and An Actor’s Carol (Cape May Stage). TV credits include The Blacklist, Criminal Minds, Numbers, Medium, The Unit, Gilmore Girls, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Film: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Produced by the american vicarious.