The nationally acclaimed courtroom drama “Defamation” is coming to Stony Brook with a twist: the outcome is in the hands of the audience.
The thought-provoking play, diving headfirst into issues of race, religion, gender, class and law, will be performed at the Student Activities Center Auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.
“I’ve never seen a play where the audience is drawn into the story in a way that affects the outcome,” Shannon Long, a junior applied mathematics and statistics and economics double major, said. “Someone who isn’t as interested in theater might be more likely to see this play because of that engaging feature.”
The play follows a civil suit between an African-American woman, Ms. Wade, and a Jewish real estate developer, Mr. Golden. After a business meeting at Mr. Golden’s house, Ms. Wade is accused of stealing his watch. She then accuses him of defamation, as he has damaged her reputation.
After the 70-minute trial, the jury will have 15 minutes to deliberate: was the woman falsely accused of stealing the man’s watch?
The judge will poll the audience twice, once before and once after deliberation. The final vote will decide the result of the trial for the plaintiff or for the defendant. A discussion involving the audience, playwright and cast will follow the end of the play.
The production is a part of Stony Brook’s Plan for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, which serves to help students become more well-versed on social issues. The show brings light to racial oppression in the criminal justice system, as well as class and gender inequality.
“Whether we like it or not, we still have major divides in this country,” playwright Todd Logan said in a news release. “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.”
“Defamation” premiered in November 2010 at the Unitarian Church of Illinois. Since then, it has been performed over 160 times and has challenged the preconceived notions of more than 30,000 people. The fall 2016 tour will stop at other colleges including Harvard, George Mason and Boston University.
Those interested must RSVP on the university’s website by Oct. 20 to reserve a ticket.