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Events Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge

Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge

Elevator Repair Service

September 9-September 11

2021 Fringe Festival




Wheelchair Accessible

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.

Health & Safety

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.


$55 VIP Opening Night
(includes pre- and post-show events)
$39 general
$15 students/25-and-under
$2 FringeACCESS

Tickets go on sale to FringeArts Members on Aug 9
and to the general public on Aug 13.
Not a member? Join now!


140 N Columbus Blvd (at Race)
Philadelphia, PA 19106


This performance is made possible, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Elevator Repair Service is also supported with funds from The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jockey Hollow Foundation, Lucille Lortel Foundation, The New York Community Trust, The O’Grady Foundation, Scherman Foundation, Select Equity Group Foundation, and Shubert Foundation.

Elevator Repair Service is a member of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York.

Festival Executive Producer:
Carol Beam
Festival Producers: Larry & Ann Rosen Spector
Festival Co-Producers: Jennifer Bohnenberger; Shelley Green;
Libby S. Harwitz & Burton Blender; Jane Pepper

About the Artists

Elevator Repair Service (ERS) is a New York City–based company that creates original works for live theatre with an ongoing ensemble. The company’s sources range from found material (transcripts of trials, old movies, YouTube videos) to literature and conventional plays (both classical and contemporary). Founded in 1991, ERS has authored an extensive body of work that includes 19 original theatrical productions. These have earned the company a loyal following and made it one of New York’s most highly acclaimed experimental theatre companies. Gatz (2006), along with The Sound and the Fury (2008) and The Select (The Sun Also Rises) (2010), form a trilogy of work based on great American novels from the early 20th Century. ERS productions share a commitment to risk-taking and reinvention, blending unusual texts with innovations in theatrical form. The finished works feature the company’s signature dynamic performance style coupled with a rigorous commitment to psychologically complex performances. ERS has received numerous awards and distinctions.


Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge 

Conceived by Greig Sargeant with Elevator Repair Service

Directed by John Collins

Featuring: April Matthis*, Gavin Price*, Greig Sargeant*, Christopher-Rashee Stevenson, and Ben Jalosa Williams*

Costume Design by Jessica Jahn

Lighting Design by Alan C. Edwards

Sound Design by Ben Williams

Scenic Consultant: dots

Assistant Costume Designer: Juliann Page

Assistant Director and Stage Manager: Maurina Lioce

Technical Director: Aaron Amodt

Producer: Mark Rossier

Associate Producer and Company Manager: Hanna Novak

Associate Lighting Designer: Alexander Le Vaillant Freer  

*The Actor appears through the courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

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