Tony Award-nominee Calvin Levels (Open Admissions) provides a look into the life of American author and civil rights activist James Baldwin in his acclaimed play, James Baldwin: Down from the Mountaintop. Presented in honor of the 20th Anniversary of Baldwin's death, and as a benefit for the Pacifica Radio Archives, the show depicts the rich and impassioned life of the esteemed writer known for his novels on sexual and personal identity and his works of nonfiction, plays and essays on human rights.
Down from the Mountaintop recounts Baldwin's life (1924-1987) from his early childhood growing up in Harlem as a prodigious reader to his death at home in the South of France. The play covers Baldwin's first sexual experiences and love affairs, plus his relationships with mentor and friend Beauford Delaney and idol Richard Wright. Baldwin was one of the first writers of the 20th century to openly acknowledge his homosexuality. In addition, the play examines his move from America to Paris and the publishing of his works, including Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes on a Native Son, and Giovanni's Room. It also explores Baldwin's many friendships and rivalries with the likes of Marlon Brando, Lorraine Hansberry, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Langston Hughes, as well as his sour relationship with the Actors Studio and his association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and the civil rights movement.
Following the December 9th performance, there is a panel discussion moderated by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. Panelists include Dr. Cornel West, Amiri Baraka, Sol Stein, Ekwueme Michael Thewell and Baldwin family members. The performances will be filmed live.
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