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Defamation: A Play on Social Issues

Five seniors and Dean of Student Life, Glenn Cassidy attended “Defamation,” a play at the Hun School of Princeton on Oct. 8th.

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“Defamation” is no ordinary play. Since its premiere on Nov. 6, 2010, “Defamation” has been seen by over 30,000 people. The 80 minute play is a court trial that includes a 15 minute discussion where the audience serve as jurors and decide the trial’s outcome.

“Defamation” tells the story of Regina Wade, an African-American business woman, portrayed by Stacey Doublin. In the play, Ms. Doublins character is in the middle of a civil suit against Jewish real-estate developer Mr. Golden (played by Richard E. Shavzin).

After meeting with Ms.Wade for a job interview, Mr. Golden accuses her of stealing his watch, which had gone missing. Mr. Golden infuriated by the fact that his watch, a family heirloom, has disappeared, defames Ms. Wade when talking to one of her clients. Ms. Wade lost her client and subsequently lost her business.

Playwright and producer of “Defamation” Todd Lang said that he “wanted to write a play that encourages greater tolerance and understanding by spurring self-examination and promoting compelling civil discourse.”

Whether we like it or not , we still have major divides in this country. Most of us still go to bed at night in cities, communities and neighborhoods that are segregated by race, religion, ethnicity and/or class,” he said. “Making the audience the jury and then inviting the juryfor a post show discussion provides a forum to begin the process.”

Serving as members of the jury allows the audience the chance to examine their own biases and internalized thoughts about race, gender, religion and class. The plays focus on these challenging issues make it fitting for high school students, who have just begun to experience the effects of these classifications.

Senior Walter Barnes described his experience at the play as really challenging.He said, It put me in front of the way we think as human beings, how we take an assumption, whether good or bad, and convince ourselves that its right. And then we try to impose that idea on others.

Figure 1(left to right) Walter Barnes (SY), Tristan Farinhas (SY), Kimm Beavers (Actress/ Co- Producer), Scott Bamberg (SY), Gina Taliaferro (Actress), Farrad Williams (SY), Leo Smith (SY) and Glenn Cassidy (Dean of Student Life).

Eric Conklin
Figure 1(left to right) Walter Barnes (SY), Tristan Farinhas (SY), Kimm Beavers (Actress/ Co- Producer), Scott Bamberg (SY), Gina Taliaferro (Actress), Farrad Williams (SY), Leo Smith (SY) and Glenn Cassidy (Dean of Student Life).

Having been a member of the play since its beginning, Kimm Beavers, actress and co-producer, has had many take aways from working on the project.

It is very fulfilling when I get to have conversations with students like you all and we talk about the misconceptions and the preconceived notions that we have and how we can take self inventory about the things that affect our decisions and our biases and how those biases are effecting the way we deal with people.

The intimate atmosphere created when the audience is given the chance to serve as jurors provides a unique experience.

“It is unusual for the audience to play an actual role in the play,” said Senior Farrad Williams. “ This play has been an unforgettable moment. It was very inspiring and allowed me to acknowledge social issues that are often overlooked.”

 

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Defamation: A Play on Social Issues