The Defamation Experience was created and written by award winning playwright Todd Logan and premiered in November 2010. Since then it has been seen by more than 250,000 people and performed more than 750 times at venues including colleges, universities, law schools, bar associations and legal organizations, diversity conferences, civic & religious organizations, high schools, middle schools, and chambers of commerce.

Now Just Cause: The Experience brings a brand-new programming opportunity set in the tension of our current times with the death of George Floyd, Covid-19, and the #MeToo movement. It’s an expression of the issues we’re living with and living through with the same model developed over the last 13 years.

Your audience is the jury.

Todd Logan, Executive Producer

A Letter From The Creator, Todd Logan

The Defamation Experience was born from an unsettling personal encounter.

More than a decade ago, I went to a reading of a friend’s play, and joined the cast for drinks afterward. Two of the actors were African-American. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d socialized with an African-American person. At some point, one of the actors regaled us with his impression of riding a horse at a weekend cattle round-up vacation. His impression reminded me of Cleavon Little in the movie Blazing Saddles, but I realized I was too self-conscious to tell him that. I was concerned he and others might think I was only making the comparison because he and Little were African-Americans.

As I drove to my home in one of Chicago’s “lily-white” suburbs, I asked myself many painful questions about where I chose to live, clubs I belonged to, and the lack of diversity among my friends and community. I knew I wasn’t unique. Most of us still go to bed at night in cities, communities and neighborhoods that are segregated by race, religion, ethnicity and class. I decided to write a play that would spur self-examination and honest conversation.

The Defamation Experience was first performed as a stage reading at DePaul University for an audience of 12 in May 2009, just a few months into the Obama Administration. It was an interesting time for American race relations, with some declaring our society “post racial” and others cautioning, as does one of the characters in the play, “just because Barack Obama is president, we’re a long way from a level playing field.”


As our experiential programming ventures beyond its 750th presentation, the roiling times of George Floyd, Me Too, and the very meaning of “diversity” inspired Lisa Dillman and me to write Just Cause, a story ripped from the headlines we’re living through today. We have entered a disturbing time where race, class, and religious conflicts are even more heightened. We are also confronting a systemic culture of sexism, as countless women – and some men – step forward to recount abuse at the hands of men in positions of power.

Amidst our growing cultural storms, the experiences surrounding both Just Cause and Defamation continually reveal to me that there’s plenty of sun to be found.

We’ve continued to evolve our programming along with ever-changing realities for the organizations that we’re fortunate to partner with. Today, our facilitators are most often in-person with audiences as we continue providing this amazing opportunity to engage your community in meaningful, lasting conversation. It’s a powerful part of the solution to today’s challenges for organizations of all shapes and sizes—crafting opportunities to engage across difference as we all change and grow together.

I find humility and humanity at every event, whether for corporate executives or high school students and regardless of age, race, ethnicity or socio-economic status. Audience members quickly acclimate to serving as jurors, and deliberations are always thoughtful and civil. The legal environment the drama creates gives jurors the courage to speak up and instills a sense of courtesy and respect towards others. Most importantly, post-show discussions reveal a national hunger for honest conversation. People want to hear and be heard. They want to heal and be healed.

These experiences have proven to be what I hoped. They are a way to challenge pre-conceived notions. They are a way to start a conversation. They are a testament to the power of civil discourse. They are a bridge to both healing and hearing.

Now the very work surrounding DE&I is under refreshed attack. It’s daunting and disorienting. Yet through the power of theater and civil discourse, these shared experiences and resulting conversations continue to deliver meaningful, long-lasting conversations when we need it most. I hope you’ll enter into The Experience and become part of the conversation, too.


Creator/Playwright, Executive Producer, Canamac Productions