Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

The American Vicarious' DEBATE: BALDWIN VS BUCKLEY to Tour All Five NYC Boroughs

The production stars Teagle F. Bougere as Baldwin and Eric T. Miller as Buckley with Spencer Hamp and Charlie O’Rourke.

The American Vicarious' DEBATE: BALDWIN VS BUCKLEY to Tour All Five NYC Boroughs

the american vicarious will present a Five-Borough NYC Tour (5BT) of their critically acclaimed 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 with Spencer Hamp and Charlie O'Rourke.

Working with venue partners in each of the boroughs, the 5BT of Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley begins in Brooklyn and takes place on October 10, 17, and 24 at 7:30pm at the Old Stone House (336 3rd Street, Brooklyn) before traveling to Queens with performances on November 11 at 8pm and 12 at 3pm & 8pm at Queens Theatre (14 United Nations Ave S, Queens). Performances resume in the Spring of 2023 in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island and will be announced at a later date. Tickets, priced at $20 $25, are now on sale at

"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 over 55 years later, within the voice of contemporary artists. In touring the work 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.

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.

Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley was originally produced in 2020 and broadcast in partnership with BRIC.

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 include 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 (the piece is now touring internationally). 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.

Old Stone House of Brooklyn

The Old Stone House, a Historic House Trust of New York City site, focuses on the long-time conflicts that have occurred on the site from the Lenape, through the Dutch colonial era and the American Revolutionary War. A Robert Moses reconstruction of the original farmhouse, OSH's presence reflects the community's commitment to its shared history. Through public education, environmental education, a contemporary art exhibition program, theater and music, the Old Stone House works to provide relevant links from the present to the past, supporting more than 6,000 students each year, as well as a broad array of community-based organizations and the public.

About Queens Theatre

Queens Theatre

(QT) is a performing arts center located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY. Its mission is to provide high-quality performances and programs that are accessible to the residents of Queens, the most diverse county in the nation. The Theatre's work reflects and celebrates its community. QT presents dance companies, produces, presents, and develops new works of theatre, family programming, community engagement events and initiatives, and offers a range of education programs onsite, in schools and in senior centers. In 2016, QT launched, and has since expanded, Theatre For All (TFA), a ground-breaking initiative to advance the inclusion of disabled people in the performing arts. Since COVID-19, QT has produced a range of digital programming -, as well as outdoor performances in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and at Corona Plaza. During the 2021-2022 Season, Queens Theatre reopened its doors to the public, and resumed presenting and producing a range of performances.

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 5BT, and Sherief Elkatsha's documentary film Rhythm of the Nile. Recent projects include Gerald Clayton's concert installation Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation, Shooting Celebrities, Debate: Baldwin -v- Buckley, NY Times Critic's Pick STATIC APNEA (2020), Negative Liberty / Positive Liberty, Jaymes Jorsling's (A)loft Modulation.

More Hot Stories For You

Adriana Gaviria Appointed Co-Artistic Director of The Sol ProjectAdriana Gaviria Appointed Co-Artistic Director of The Sol Project
December 6, 2022

Adriana Gaviria will join Jacob G. Padrón as co-Artistic Director of The Sol Project. Gaviria will assume the new role beginning December 12, 2022. 

Lightning Rod Special to Present Return Engagement of THE APPOINTMENT at WP Theater in JanuaryLightning Rod Special to Present Return Engagement of THE APPOINTMENT at WP Theater in January
December 6, 2022

Lightning Rod Special will present a return engagement of their critically acclaimed musical The Appointment, lead written by Alice Yorke (SPEECH), Eva Steinmetz (SIGN FELT!), Scott R. Sheppard (Underground Railroad Game), and Alex Bechtel (The Light Princess).

Photos: First Look At Noël Coward's THE RAT TRAP At NY City Center Stage II, Running Through Saturday December 10Photos: First Look At Noël Coward's THE RAT TRAP At NY City Center Stage II, Running Through Saturday December 10
December 5, 2022

Mint Theater Company  has returned to New York City Center Stage II with the highly acclaimed American premiere of Noël Coward's The Rat Trap, directed by Alexander Lass. This limited Off-Broadway engagement runs through Saturday December 10th only. 

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of BECKY NURSE OF SALEM at Lincoln Center TheaterPhotos: Go Inside Opening Night of BECKY NURSE OF SALEM at Lincoln Center Theater
December 5, 2022

See photos from opening night of Becky Nurse of Salem, a new play by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Rebecca Taichman, now playing at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. 

Submissions Now Open for VIRTUAL FESTIVAL OF SHORT PLAYS at Abingdon Theatre CompanySubmissions Now Open for VIRTUAL FESTIVAL OF SHORT PLAYS at Abingdon Theatre Company
December 5, 2022

Abingdon Theatre Company has announced the opening of submissions for their Virtual Festival of Short Plays. The third annual Virtual Festival of Short Plays is a virtual festival shedding light on stories by people of color.