Thursday, June 15, 2006

Calvin Levels As James Baldwin - James Baldwin: Down From the Mountaintop

Today I had the opportunity to see Calvin Levels again after at least 15 years. Calvin studied acting with my father in the 70's and 80's - and perhaps the 90's? I'm not sure. He also starred in Open Admissions on broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award, among many other acting credits on both coasts.

I remember him as a wee spud - and today I was able to see him do a portion of his one-man show about James Baldwin - James Baldwin: Down From the Mountaintop that he wrote and stars in, and tours throughout the country.

Of course, I showed up at acting class 15 minutes late, thinking that they would start off with relaxation and sensory, and I would just be a little late. I was wrong; they had started with a section of Calvin's piece, and I had to listen through the door and wait until he was finished before I could enter, lest I interrupt.

Calvin flew in today to be interviewed for the documentary/pilot that we are filming about Dad and his acting class (I say "we" although I am simply helping and Associate Producing at best). After the interview Calvin sat in on class and worked - doing his piece. There was a pause in the perfomance (because that's what it was, regardless of whether or not Daddy was critiquing it) and I went in and got to see a section of it.

Calvin was brilliant. It is a fascinating fictional piece based on fact, narrated by Baldwin's spirit as he discusses his life, having embodied a playwright/actor (Calvin) - and in doing so "...sets the record straight." (website)
Calvin tours this throughout the country, at universities, and has been praised by the Advocate, the L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly, and a myriad of professors of Black History and authorities on the life of Baldwin.

I think what made me thrilled as well was that Calvin got to see me do a scene today - and he seemed to enjoy it; and I'm sure it was interesting to see me work, since the last time he saw me I was but a wee lassie. I was so happy to be able to share my work with him...someone who I had always remembered as a great, working actor.

I look forward to when Calvin brings his show back to New York - I'll be there. Check out the website, it's fascinating.


Blogger Maritza said...

Very interesting blog. I'll be back for more reading.

5:44 PM  

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