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The Defamation Experience

This week, ANC had a unique educational opportunity to discuss issues of race, class, religion, gender and bias through The Defamation Experience. 

THE DEFAMATION EXPERIENCE is an interactive diversity program comprised of three components; the play, which explores the highly charged issues of race, class, religion, gender, and the law with a twist: the audience is the jury. Through deliberations and post-show discussions, audiences engage in civil discourse that challenges preconceived notions.

The case presented is an African American female business owner suing a wealthy Jewish real estate developer for defamation after she is accused of stealing a family heirloom. 

Students and teachers alike were engaged in all three aspects of the experience. One teacher commented: “It was really nice to be in community with the students as citizens rather than in our usual roles as teachers and students. It was a slice of what the reality is--everyone trying their best to make their way through life and do what they can with their best judgment and sense of themselves in mind. Unlike in the classroom where I tend to have answers or at least general directions in mind, I felt like I could truly learn and experience alongside our students. This morning we were all colleagues and partners in the face of social challenges. I appreciated that.”

 Another teacher said: “It's easy to point fingers about prejudice, but how often do we get to take inventory of our own biases? This was a thought-provoking experience--sufficiently engaging to capture the attention of the audience and perhaps help us empathize with someone unlike ourselves, and well-written enough to keep us on our toes when it was time to reach a verdict. But it wouldn't have meant nearly as much were it not for the post-performance discussion. The facilitator created a space comfortable enough for students to share their opinions and experience. I appreciated that it created an opportunity to discuss challenging issues in a respectful, constructive way.”

“Teens don't like being brought out of their comfort zones, and so it takes a lot to pull off an experience like this, in this environment. The performers were confident in their product, and that confidence created a space of learning, self-reflection, and---no less important---fun.”

Students said: 

“It was fast-moving and fun to watch, but made me think at the same time.”

“This experience got the school talking and sharing opinions about a topic that is usually not discussed.”

“A thought-provoking performance--makes you consider the decisions you make in a different light.”

"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. I wanted to write a play that encourages open, honest conversation that leads to greater understanding and empathy to combat today's prevailing trends." -Todd Logan, Playwright 

To learn more about The Defamation Experience, please see their website: