Play involves students in social discussion

The Defamation Experience, a play by Todd Logan, instigated discussion among the 76 students in attendance at the Akin Auditorium Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 3:30 p.m.

The play, presented by the MOSIAC Cross Cultural Center, told the story of the fictional court case, Wade v. Golden. Regina Wade (Krystel V. McNeil), an African-American owner of a small business, sues Arthur Golden (Johnny Arena), a wealthy Jewish businessman, for defamation after he accuses her of stealing a watch and allegedly costs her, her biggest client. The case’s verdict is left to an audience poll near the end of the play. Tuesday’s audience voted 73 in favor of Wade and three in favor of Golden.

Kimm Beavers
Bridget Reilly
Kimm Beavers calls on a student to voice their opinion about prejudices, following the conclusion of the play The Defamation Experience. Jan. 28.

“The most significant part of [the play] comes from the audience being the jury for the court,” Zy Jones, business management sophomore, said. “Not only do you get presented the issue, but you also are a part of the ruling and, [you] impact the end result.”

The final tally was heavily in favor of Wade, but several students in the audience admitted that Golden being accused of being a racist played a factor in them not siding with him. Supporters of the defendant were less vocal than supporters of Wade in defending their viewpoint. Kimm Beavers, actress and managing producer, used this to open up a conversation about how people value their own public perception.

Soleil Weeks
Bridget Reilly
Economics sophomore Soleil Weeks participates in the after play discussion. Jan. 28.

“Some people may have felt like they couldn’t vote for Golden because he was portrayed as a racist, and they didn’t want to be portrayed that way,” Beavers said.

Along with deciding the verdict, the audience was directly involved after the play by answering questions from Beavers about the play and the social issues it brought to life. Discussion between Beavers and the audience lasted for the entirety of the 30 final minutes allotted to the play.

“The important thing is you participate. That makes you very good in my book,” Brian McKnight, actor and director, said.

Brittany Roberts
Bridget Reilly
Psychology freshman Brittany Roberts opens up in the after play discussion addressing that persons of color have to be “on the defensive” when in a mostly white community. Jan. 28.

The Defamation Experience opened up discussion for topics such as racism, classism, religion, gender and other forms of prejudice. Actors went into the audience and passed around microphones so students could offer their insights on these issues. Students were able to reflect on their own experiences and share their viewpoints on social issues in relation to the play.

“There’s passive bias where you just want to be cautious [and] there’s aggressive bias, like in this case, where Golden accused her of stealing because of the color of her skin,” Omar Combie, mass communication freshman, said during the discussion period.

Beavers shared with the audience her own view on being bias.

“Our biases can allow us to hear and see what we want to hear and see,” Beavers said.