Casting has been revealed for The Public Theater and Elevator Repair Service's upcoming New York premiere of Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge, conceived by Greig Sargeant with Elevator Repair Service and directed by John Collins. The work is slated to begin performances at the Public's Anspacher Theater September 24 and run through October 16, with an October 2 opening night.
Sargeant will star as James Baldwin, opposite Daphne Gaines as Lorraine Hansberry, Gavin Price as Mr. Heycock, Christopher-Rashee Stevenson as Mr. Burford, and Ben Jalosa Williams as William F. Buckley, Jr.
The work recreates an infamous 1965 debate between Black writer James Baldwin and staunch conservative William F. Buckley, Jr., ending with an imagined scene between Baldwin and A Raisin in the Sun (also soon to be on the boards at the Public) playwright Lorraine Hansberry, researched and written by April Matthis and Sargeant.
The production will feature scenic consulting by dots, costume design by Jessica Jahn, lighting design by Alan C. Edwards, and sound design by Ben Jalosa Williams. Maurina Lioce is production stage manager.
"With The Public Theater’s strong commitment to social justice, its supportive community, and its engaged and adventurous audiences, I cannot imagine a better home for this piece," says Sargeant in a statement. "Recreating such a powerful debate for a modern audience is deeply fulfilling for me personally, and I am both thrilled and humbled to give voice to the words of Mr. James Baldwin."
"The words of James Baldwin are as urgent and moving today as they have ever been,” adds Collins, director of the production and artistic director of Elevator Repair Service. "This debate staged for a live audience not only delivers those powerful ideas, but also reminds us of the all-too-familiar counterarguments of William F. Buckley, arguments that still find sympathy among today’s conservatives."
The production is the latest collaboration between The Public and ERS, with past productions including Gatz, Arguendo, and The Sound and the Fury.