Arts / Community

Defamation raises questions for community

Todd Logan’s drama Defamation brought the courtroom to Dana Hall on November 2, making the audience the jury in this play that touched on everyone’s individual opinions on race, religion, class, and law.

The play focused on the plaintiff, Regina Wade, a black businesswoman who lives on the South Side of Chicago, and the defendant, Mr. Lawton, a wealthy Jewish business man living in Winnetka, an affluent area on the North Shore in Chicago. Ms. Wade accused Mr. Lawton of defamation for telling one of her clients about her supposed theft of his watch.

The entire civil case took place on stage, and when it was time to vote, Dana Hall students and faculty were able to participate. The “jury” had three options: in favor of the plaintiff, in favor of the defendant, and undecided. In the first round of voting, the vast majority of audience members chose “undecided,” and a discussion session then followed. Members of the jury were able to voice their opinions and reasons for their choices.

In the final round of voting, the audience was given only two options for voting: in favor of the plaintiff or in favor of the defendant. The audience was split, 193 voting for Ms. Wade, and 180 people voting for Mr. Lawton.

Ms. Lindsay White, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs and Community Development, was impressed with each student’s “responses and questions, open-mindedness and willingness to take risks.” She helped to bring Defamation to Dana Hall because “it was a good springboard for future conversation on race, religion, class, and the judicial system.”

Fernanda Mondragon ’17 and Maddie Palandjian ’17 said they liked that play was interactive, and how the decision rested on everyone’s own opinions and feelings. As Ms. White made clear, this play was “only the beginning to the complex and complicated topics, but the continuation of bringing them up to the community will move us towards the right direction.”

Photo: Ms. White poses with the cast of Defamation. Photo credit: Sarah Drory.