The audience is the jury in “The Defamation Experience,” a nationally acclaimed, live production that combines a riveting courtroom drama with audience deliberation and discussion exploring issues of race, class, religion, gender and the law.
“The Defamation Experience” will be performed Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Sidney Gelber Auditorium in the Student Activities Center. The show is free and open to the public.
The event centers around the play, “Defamation,” written by Todd Logan and previously presented at Stony Brook University in 2016.
The old-fashioned courtroom drama centers around a civil suit: A South Side African American female business owner sues a wealthy Jewish North Shore real estate developer for defamation. What follows is a 75-minute trial that “holds the audience’s own prejudices and assumptions under a powerful lens, and does not let go except by the way of an unsettling self-examination,” according to the show’s website.
After the dramatic testimony, the judge tells the audience they are going to be the jury. A poll is taken and the judge leads the deliberation. Jurors stand to explain and advocate their reasons for their vote. When a consensus of views have been heard, the judge polls the audience again and this final vote decides the outcome of the trial. The audience is invited to stay for a post-show discussion.
The event is co-sponsored and presented by Undergraduate Student Government, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Department of Africana Studies, Social Justice Collaborative, the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer and the Office of the President.