The State Hornet

California State University

Sacramento, CA

February 21, 2007

Levels' one-man play performed

at Sac State

"James Baldwin: Down From

the Mountaintop" will be performed

today at noon

by Brandon Van Meter

Today at noon in the Redwood Room is a play about an influential American, James Baldwin.

UNIQUE and the Multi-Cultural Center bring to Sacramento State the one-man play "James Baldwin: Down from the Mountaintop," written and performed by Tony Award nominee Calvin Levels.

James Baldwin was a gay black man who fought for equal rights. Levels described Baldwin as a man who fought for the equality of all people, not just certain demographics.

"Baldwin had a commitment to humanity and an enormous love for others," Levels said. "He had the courage to fight for a better world, just like all great thinkers."

Levels said he researched Baldwin extensively before he wrote the play four years ago.

"When I wrote the draft it really felt like I was channeling Baldwin," Levels said. "The writing process continues today and the play continues to change because of contemporary issues."

This event, along with several other events, is part of a calendar to honor Black History Month, Zenia Diokno, programs advisor for UNIQUE Programs said.

"James Baldwin is such an important figure," Diokno said "The whole idea of the play sounded so interesting, a one-man production with Calvin Levels."

Although UNIQUE Programs is having Levels perform his play in February for Black History Month, Levels said he performs the play throughout the year.

"Labels and race should be nonexistent," Levels said. "It's not about blackness or whiteness, but about human beings, all genders and sectors of society."

Aside from some major theaters like the Tiffany Theatre, universities are a major portion of the James Baldwin tour that Levels is on.

Levels said schools are a large part of the tour, because he wants to reach the student populations.

"I want to introduce to students Baldwin's commitment to humanity," Levels said.

Levels said he portrays Baldwin's ideas of peace and the wholeness of the human being in his play.

"Once students get a taste of Baldwin, they will be hooked," Levels said.

The overall message within the play and within Baldwin's ideals is to "give peace and love a chance."

"We need it today especially," Levels said.

Brandon Van Meter can be reached at


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