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The Defamation Experience

Suhas Vittal, Reporter

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Defamation is an interactive play written by Todd Logan and directed by Scott Phelps that addresses race, gender and religion. This play is about Regina Wade suing Mr. Golden for defamation. There are three The play is set in a Chicago courtroom in 2012 and is about Regina Wade (Risha Tena Hill) who is trying to prove that a false statement made about her by Arthur Golden (Brian Rabinowitz) left her financially hindered. The experience is split into three parts. The first is the play, the second is the deliberation, and the third is the post-show discussion.

The play began with Regina and her lawyer, Mr. Lawton (Will McFadden), and Arthur Golden and his lawyer, Ms. Allen (Kimm Beavers) entering the stage and sitting at tables next to each other facing the stage. Judge Adrian Barnes (Jeffrey Grover) comes on the stage and explains the premise of the court case and the rules to the audience. Regina Wade is then called to the stand where her lawyer examines her about the day of the incident. Regina says it all started when Arthur wanted to play golf with her and other colleagues from the board of directors, Edgeworks Theatre Company, where they both serve. After playing golf, Mr. Golden realizes his watch is missing and asks Regina if she saw it. He calls his law firm, Siegel & Karmin, for advice. This law firm also employs Regina’s legal graphic design firm, Eagle Graphics. Regina believes this is where Arthur defamed her by accusing her of stealing the watch because Siegel & Karmin switch to a different legal graphic design firm (National Graphics) even though they did business with them for over 23 years. She believes she was accused of this because she is African American.

Arthur is then brought up to stand to tell his side of the story. He denies all accusations of slandering Regina and that he is racist by saying that he cannot be racist because he is Jewish, and his family dealt with anti-Semitism before. However, after intense questioning from Mr. Lawton he does admit that he believes Jews should not marry outside of their religion. He argues that this is not a racist belief but that he holds this view because he is proud of his heritage.

Lorraine Jordan, the witness and the lawyer that works for Arthur (he talked to Lorraine when he called up Siegal & Karmin) is called to the stand and she explains that they did not switch business from Eagle Graphics to National Graphics because of what Arthur said, but because they had cheaper prices. At the end of the play Regina is cross-examined, and Ms. Allen accuses her of stealing the watch out of spite.

Afterwards, Brian Rabinowitz who played Judge Adrian Barnes breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience to decide who is innocent. He chose me to count the votes. I counted 28 for Regina Wade, 40 for undecided, and 0 for Arthur Golden. Brian then asked some of the voters why they took the position that they did. After this, we took a final vote where everyone had to choose between either Arthur Golden or Regina Wade. The verdict did not change after the discussion as everyone voted for Regina’s innocence. The actors then asked the audience about any final thoughts about their vote. One student remarked that they thought Regina was unfairly stereotyped because of her race while another student thought Arthur Golden was prejudiced until he realized, as an African-American man, he would not want his children to marry outside their race.

Photos courtesy of Dhanesh Persaud.

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The Defamation Experience