140 N. Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19106 United States
Part of the 2021 Fringe Festival
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. New York-based performance ensemble Elevator Repair Service, a company with a rich history of adapting unconventional texts, stages the debate verbatim.
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 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.
Festival Executive Producer: Carol Beam
Festival Co-Producers: Jennifer Bohnenberger; Shelley Green; Libby S. Harwitz & Burton Blender; Jane Pepper
*Proof of vaccination is required to attend this event. For the safety of audiences, artists, staff, and our greater community, you must be fully vaccinated to attend this event. Fully vaccinated means two weeks after your second dose. You will be asked to show proof of vaccination before entering the venue. Accepted forms for proof of vaccination include: a physical vaccine card with your name on it or a digital photo of your vaccine card on a cell phone. Please plan accordingly.
Masks must also be worn for the duration of the performance.
Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 7pm*
Friday, September 10, 2021 at 8pm
Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 8pm
*VIP Opening Night Party
$55 VIP Opening Night
(includes pre- and post-show events)