The Defamation Experience comes to Chaffey College
By Netia Banks-Larry
The Defamation Experience made its debut at Chaffey College on February 8th, 2017 as a hard hitting play about classism, racism and religion as well as the privileges behind them.
The plot of the play revolves around a civil case where the plaintiff Regina Wade (Risha Tenae), is believed to be the victim of business loss due to Arthur Golden’s (Brian Rabinowitz) claims that she had stolen his grandfather’s watch.
It’s an interactive play meaning the audience is expected to reach a conclusion on who they believed took the watch and explain why they voted for or against Regina Wade. The characters are painted utilizing stereotypes of the “angry black woman” trope for Ms. Wade and the almost childlike and “innocent” stereotype for Arthur Golden. The director made sure the audience fed into the parallel of the characters by placing a white lawyer Mr. Lawton (Will McFadden) in defense of Regina Wade, and a black lawyer for Ms. Allen (Melanie Loren), in defense of Arthur Golden.
The “courtroom” lies in the power of Judge Adrian Barnes (Joe Yau) and the audience is given specific instruction to not interrupt the actors at work. When the play is over, the audience is greeted by Gina Taliaferro who played key witness Lorraine Jordan. As the audience was told to vote based upon genuine belief, 3 voted in favor of Arthur Golden while the remainder voted in favor of Regina Wade. The total number of audience members was twenty one. This was to be expected as Gina disclosed to the audience that 85% of the voting process out of the shows they’ve done had been in favor of Regina Wade. 75% had been in favor of Regina Wade at law schools.
The actors are then open to discussion and it's made known that the actors would've voted in favor of the characters they portrayed. The Defamation Experience focused on the empathy of the audience through personal testimonies that didn’t necessarily pertain to the actual purpose of the trial. This play was provided by the Student Services Administration.