from the american vicarious

Directed by Christopher McElroen

Starring Teagle F. Bougere and Eric T. Miller

5-Borough NYC Tour of Historic Clash Between James Baldwin and William F Buckley Jr. comes to the Bronx River Art Center for two performances.

May 13th at 3pm and 7pm


Use links below for special BRAC patron discounts on Tickets:

On ticketing site, Click on May 13th date and pick 3:00PM or 7:00PM

$10 Tickets for adults (+$2 fee)

$8 Tickets for adults registered in BRAC classes (+1.75 fee)

$5 Tickets for youth, seniors and SNAP recipients (+1.75 fee)

Bronx, NY... Bronx River Art Center is proud to present the critically acclaimed production of Debate: Baldwin vs Buckley from the american vicarious. Adapted and directed by Founding Artistic Director Christopher McElroen, this staging of the historic clash between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. 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. Bronx River Art Center is thrilled to have been chosen as the site for the Bronx leg of the Five Borough NYC Tour!

Join us for an unforgettable live restaging of an epic confrontation pitting Baldwin’s call for a moral revolution in race relations against Buckley’s unabashed elitism and implicit commitment to white supremacy.

The performances at Bronx River Art Center will take place on May 13th at 3pm and 7pm.

Photo: Teagle F. Bougere as Baldwin credit: Ellie Kurttz

“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 58 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.

Photo: Eric T. Miller as Buckley credit: Ellie Kurttz

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.

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.

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Media Contact: John Wyszniewski, Everyman Agency,, 347-416-3881

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This program is made possible with support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, including Council Members Eric Dinowitz, Althea Stevens, Kristy Marmorato and the Bronx Delegation. Additional support is from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, the NYS Council on the Arts with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature. Foundation support is from Con Edison: The Power of Giving, The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, The Lincoln Fund, and private donors.

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