DEBATE: BALDWIN VS BUCKLEY to Have UK Premiere & Embark on 5-Borough New York Tour

The production stars Teagle F. Bougere as Baldwin and Eric T. Miller as Buckley.

By: Jan. 27, 2023
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DEBATE: BALDWIN VS BUCKLEY to Have UK Premiere & Embark on 5-Borough New York Tour

the american vicarious will present the UK Premiere along with additional details for its Five-Borough NYC Tour of their production of Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley, a staging of the historic clash between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. Adapted and directed by Founding Artistic Director Christopher McElroen, the production stars Teagle F. Bougere (Broadway's The Tempest with Patrick Stewart, A Raisin In The Sun with Phylicia Rashad, and Ivo van Hove's The Crucible) as Baldwin and Eric T. Miller (Mope at The Ensemble Studio Theater) as Buckley.

Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley will play a limited 4-week run, March 15 - April 8, 2023, at Stone Nest, an arts organization and performance venue bringing exceptional and experimental work to the heart of London's West End. This UK premiere of Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley marks the production's first international engagement.

Following performances in the fall of 2022 at Queens Theatre and Old Stone House in Brooklyn, the 5BT of Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley will complete its local tour of New York City with events in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island will present two performances on March 4. In Manhattan, Harlem Stage will also present two performances on March 9 and 10 at 7:30pm. Spencer Hamp and Charlie O'Rourke, in supporting roles, will join Bougere and Miller for these dates. Performances in the Bronx will be announced soon.

"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. Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley reveals the deep roots and lasting legacy of racial conflict that continues to haunt America.

Upon its premiere in March 2022, Helen Shaw in Vulture wrote, "My best recommendation for you this week is actually a play made with almost nothing - just bodies, in a room, with one staticky television set occasionally playing a clip... Bougere makes the production unmissable." Zachary Stewart in Theatermania declared, "the american vicarious gives audiences a palpable sense of the electricity, animosity, and history coursing through the room." Erin Kahn in Stage Buddy remarked, "It's not theatre for the faint-hearted. What it is, however, is an engaging, exciting, and endlessly thought-provoking recreation of a watershed moment for American civil rights."

"The objective of the american vicarious in restaging this historic debate is not to inhabit such monumental figures as James Baldwin or William F. Buckley Jr., their shoes are too large to fill," McElroen commented. "Rather, our desire is to simply place their words, which still resonate 58 years later, within the voice of contemporary artists. In touring the work to London and around New York City, our hope is to reach beyond the traditional theatre bubble and share the work in venues that allow us to embrace the immediacy and intimacy of the original debate."

Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley began as an artistic response to the 2020 uprisings following the murder of George Floyd and the polarizing 2020 Presidential election. The nation was navigating race while simultaneously debating, in a very uncivilized fashion, who its next leader should be. It was originally produced in October 2020 as a livestreamed event and broadcast in partnership with BRIC. Once live performances returned to New York, it was restaged for in-person performances and premiered March 5 - April 3, 2022 at the Great Room at the A.R.T./New York South Oxford Space in Brooklyn.

The creative team for Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley includes Adam J. Thompson (video and graphics designer) and Jaymes Jorsling (artist in residence and stage manager). The running time is 60 minutes.

Please visit for additional information and to purchase tickets.

About the Artists

Teagle F. Bougere:

Broadway appearances include The Tempest (Caliban) with Patrick Stewart, directed by George C. Wolfe; A Raisin In The Sun (Asagai) with Phylicia Rashad and The Crucible (Judge Hawthorne), directed by Ivo van Hove. Selected television and film include Law and Order S.V.U. a.d.a. Phillip Baptiste (recurring); Queen America (series regular) with Catherine Zeta-Jones; The Blacklist; Bull; The Mist; The Path; Cosby; The Big C; The Job; A Gifted Man; Conviction, What The Deaf Man Heard;" eight episodes for the various Law and Order franchises. A Night At The Museum; The Pelican Brief; Two Weeks Notice; The Imposters. Selected Off-Broadway includes The New Englanders, Manhattan Theater Club (Audelco Award-Outstanding Lead Actor); 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 13th 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. Regionally Mr. Bougere created the title role in the world premiere stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. The production was directed by Christopher McElroen and played The Court Theater In Chicago; Studio Theater in Washington D.C., and Boston's Huntington Theater.

Eric T. Miller:

Theater credits include Mope (Ensemble Studio Theatre), rogerandtom (HERE), Sweet Storm (LAByrinth), (A)Loft Modulation (the american vicarious), Awake and Sing! and Ripcord (Huntington Theatre), Wink (TerraNova), Luft Gangster (Sheen Center), Safe Home (Royal Family Productions), Betrayed (Culture Project) as well as work at the Syracuse Stage, Bard Summerscape, New York Stage and Film, Rattlestick, PS 122, Workshop, and the Flea. Television and Film credits Television and Film credits include Mare of Easttown, Halston, FBI: Most Wanted, The Good Fight, Blue Bloods, Chicago PD, Blacklist, Person of Interest, Elementary, The Unusuals, Kings, Law & Order, Shame, Reaching Home, The Waiting Room, Home, Tom's Dilemma, AdFirm, Separation, Redemption in Cherry Springs, Josie & Jack, and the upcoming Jules with Ben Kingsley.

Christopher McElroen:

is a Brooklyn-based mixed media artist committed to generating artistic content, across disciplinary boundaries, that aspires to reflect on America: its ideals and realities and that which unites and divides its people. He is the Founding Artistic Director of the american vicarious. Christopher's recent projects, Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley (2022) and Static Apnea (2020), were both listed as "Highbrow and Brilliant" in New York Magazine's Approval Matrix, and Broadway World said "the american vicarious is on my list of must see theatre companies." In collaboration with six-time Grammy Award nominee Gerald Clayton, Christopher developed and directed Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation, which was presented at Harlem Stage in June 2022.

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 year-long community development through the arts initiative in post-Katrina New Orleans. The archives from the production were acquired into the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Christopher had the honor of directing 51st (dream) State, the final work of poet, musician, and activist Sekou Sundiata, which premiered at BAM's Next Wave Festival. Christopher co-founded the Classical Theatre of Harlem, where from 1999 to 2009, he oversaw 41 productions yielding 18 AUDELCO Awards, 6 OBIE Awards, 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, and a Drama Desk Award.

Spencer Hamp:

Some recent stage acting includes his Off-Broadway debut in (A)loft Modulation (the american vicarious), working with MacArthur fellow Naomi Wallace on her play Birdy (Commonwealth Shakespeare), and playing Alan Strang in Equus (Pittsburgh Public Theater). Screen acting: music videos for Erik Blood and Hunter Lea, a guest spot in Law and Order: SVU, and working with visionary independent filmmaker Jimmy Bontatibus on his feature films A Muse and All I've Been Wanting. Over the past six months, Hamp has been platforming some poetry on and distributing a zine about the creative process.

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. 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 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.

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. Jaymes is currently a staff writer for 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.

About the american vicarious

the american vicarious, under Artistic Director Christopher McElroen, Producing Director Erica Laird, Marketing Manager Robyn Sunderland, 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. Current projects include: Debate: Baldwin -vs- Buckley, Sherief Elkatsha's documentary film Far From the Nile. Recent projects include Gerald Clayton's concert installation Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation, Shooting Celebrities, NY Times Critic's Pick STATIC APNEA (2020), Negative Liberty / Positive Liberty, Jaymes Jorsling's (A)loft Modulation. the american vicarious' work is made possible by support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the generosity of individual donors. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

About Stone Nest

Stone Nest is an arts organization and performance venue in the heart of London's West End, bringing exceptional and experimental art to a wide audience. A hidden gem nestled amidst the bright lights of theatreland, it offers a platform for bold, visionary artists and a space where audiences can encounter an eclectic programme of contemporary performance.

About Harlem Stage

Harlem Stage is the performing arts center that bridges Harlem's cultural legacy to contemporary artists of color and dares to provide the artistic freedom that gives birth to new ideas. For nearly 40 years our singular mission has been to perpetuate and celebrate the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American culture. We provide opportunity, commissioning, and support for visionary artists of color, make performances easily accessible to all audiences and introduce children to the rich diversity, excitement, and inspiration of the performing arts.

About The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor Cultural Center

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is one destination with unlimited experiences. We offer dynamic programming in the arts, horticulture, and agriculture for diverse communities and all ages on our historic 83-acre campus. We envision being a locally impactful, globally renowned destination, true to our values of artistic vibrancy and community, inclusion and discovery, stewardship, and conservation. Snug Harbor is a proud Smithsonian Affiliate organization. Learn more at