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Feb. 11, 2005
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Calvin Levels will present his original solo play, "James Baldwin: Down from the Mountaintop," Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building at Bucknell University.
The performance, which is free to the public, is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Services, Bucknell Association for the Arts, the Office of LGBT Awareness, Committee for Campus Diversity, Brothers and Sisters Empowered and the National Society of Black Engineers.
Perhaps best known for his first novel, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Baldwin led a rich and impassioned life. A minister in Harlem at the age of 14, Baldwin worked as a journalist before moving to Paris in 1948. He returned to the United States in 1957, joining forces with Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and others during the civil rights movement.
In 1983, Baldwin began teaching Afro-American studies at Five Colleges of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He taught and lectured at many colleges and universities prior his death in 1987.
The play begins as Levels prepares to make his entrance before an opening night Broadway audience. Through the actor, the spirit of James Baldwin addresses the audience, recounting various topics about his life including his childhood in Harlem, (upon which Go Tell it on the Mountain is partially based), his relationship with author Richard Wright and his friendships with such notables as actor Marlon Brando, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, novelist Truman Capote and poet Langston Hughes.
Levels began acting at the age of 5 at the renowned Karamu Theater in Cleveland. After receiving a degree in theater arts, he moved to Los Angeles to study with Lee Strasberg.
Some of his film credits include "Ragtime" directed by Milos Forman; "Convicts" which starred Robert Duval and James Earl Jones; "Johnny Suede" with co-star Brad Pitt; and "Adventures in Babysitting." Levels also portrayed the central character in the CBS mini-series "The Atlanta Child Murders" with Morgan Freeman, Jason Robards, Martin Sheen and Ruby Dee. Levels' stage credits include appearing in "Open Admissions" and "The Shawl" at Lincoln Center Theatre and The Music Box Theatre on Broadway.
A Tony Award nominee, Levels also has received the New York Theater World Award for Outstanding New Talent and has been nominated for the New York Drama Desk Award and The Outer Critic Circle Award for "Best Actor in a Play."