The Defamation Experience


With 12 years running, The Defamation Experience brings a proven interactive diversity experience to your audience. The trial “holds our prejudices and assumptions under a powerful lens, and does not let go except by way of an unsettling self-examination.”

The original, nationally-acclaimed legal drama Defamation has been bringing audiences face-to-face with issues of race, class, gender, and the law for more than a decade. Written by award-winning playwright and Canamac’s Executive Producer Todd Logan, the play challenges our own preconceived notions and leads audience members like yours to learn as much about themselves as they do the plaintiff and the defendant.

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— Your Audience Is The Jury —

Phase 1:

The Case

Ms. Regina Wade is suing Mr. Arthur Golden for Defamation after he’s accused her of stealing a family heirloom.

She claims she didn’t steal it—and that she lost business because of his accusations.

Phase 2:

The Deliberation

Your audience becomes the jury to decide the outcome of the case, reflecting inward on their biases and preconceived notions.

Led by a judge, they deliberate the verdict exploring how they plan to vote, and why.

Phase 3:

The Discussion

Once a verdict is reached, we shift the conversation away from the courtroom to real life. We explore issues beyond the case as participants engage in a safe space for vulnerable conversation about their unique perspectives and experiences.

The Case

Here’s The Story:

Set in a Chicago courtroom in 2012, Ms. Regina Wade, an African-American small business owner, is suing Mr. Arthur Golden, a wealthy white real estate developer, after he’s accused her of stealing his family heirloom watch.

We hear testimony from both sides as the attorneys introduce matters of race, class, and more in attempts to build or erode the jurors’ perspectives on the character of each party. We also hear from Ms. Lorraine Jordan as a witness, who Ms. Wade asserts stopped doing business with her after conversations with Mr. Golden about the missing watch.

Defamation asks us to consider how we form our opinions of others. Can we judge someone based on where they go to bed at night? Following emotionally charged exchanges on both sides, the judge turns to your audience as jurors to decide the outcome of the case. With no “smoking gun” evidence to provide a clear answer, it’s up to each audience to adjudicate Ms. Wade’s civil suit.

Preview Scenes

The Deliberation

Your Audience Is The Jury…

Defamation is uniquely-written to leave your audience without a clear answer—they must deliberate together about these challenging topics to come to a verdict. Setting the stage in a courtroom gives participants an immediate idea of what’s expected of them, including objectivity and civility. While they realize it’s hard to be objective when matters of race, class, and more are at play in the case, objectivity and a willingness to engage on these difficult topics emerges.

Our judge leads your audience members through a process of simultaneous self-reflection and conversation with the goal of reaching a verdict in a challenging case. Participants talk about who they’re voting for and why, or what’s causing them to struggle in reaching a decision. This conversation casts a light on our biases and preconceived notions, and shows how we can be witness to the exact same thing yet come to a different conclusion based on our perspectives.

Once a verdict is reached, the judge adjourns the courtroom and delivers your audience to one of our expert facilitators for Phase 3: The Post-Show Discussion.

The Post-Show Discussion

Let’s Go Deeper…

With the verdict reached, the trail is over, but the conversation is just beginning. After speaking in an open and civil manner about difficult topics like race and gender, participants keep talking, but now it’s about each of us as individuals instead of the characters in the play.

Our facilitator guides this deeper level of conversation, of course grounded in the topics from the case, but also whatever’s on the hearts and minds of audience members based on what they saw and how it made them feel. We don’t limit participants to what Ms. Wade and Mr. Golden talked about, and often discuss a lot more—including: preference vs. prejudice, allyship, power, privilege, and influence, assumptions based on class, intersectionality, and evolving realities in the USA.

We know based on more than a decade of feedback that conversations started within your organization often continue for days, weeks, and even months after the event. We offer an optional follow-up conversation between 1-2 weeks after the event takes place, bringing back the same facilitator for an additional hour of discussion with your audience.

Convenient Programming Formats To Meet Your Organization’s Needs

The Defamation Experience

Event-Type: In-Person FacilitationHave one of our expert facilitators join your audience in-person to guide your audience through all 3 phases of the program. Following a digital presentation of the film, our facilitator will lead live voting and deliberation and a post-show discussion tailored for your organization.

Event Type: TelepresenceDeliver our virtual program to your live audience — ideal for live audiences in a single location or in several rooms/venues simultaneously as a hybrid experience.
Event Type: OnlineBring your audience together from wherever they’re located, offering everyone a front-row seat in a 100% virtual experience — ideal for remote learning and remote working environments.
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Flexible Scheduling Options
One-Time Event: An all-encompassing event with all 3 phases of the experience presented together.
FLEX Event: Attendees will be able to view the film on their own within 48 hours leading up to a scheduled deliberation and discussion.
Custom Program: We’re happy to work with your scheduling and programming needs to customize our online programming for your organization.
Follow-Up Discussion (Optional): Invite your attendees back to rejoin our expert facilitators and continue the conversation after they’ve had time to think and process.

Tech Requirements

The minimal tech requirements for The Defamation Experience are likely already met by your infrastructure for online/distance learning or meetings within your organization.

Online and Telepresence events are hosted on Zoom, so you and your audience members and/or venue(s) should have access to the Zoom platform, a working webcam, microphone, monitor/display, and speakers in order to participate in the interactive experience. For Telepresence events, we will setup technical pre-work to help you optimize your digitally-connected venue(s) for a seamless experience.

Break the barriers of diversity programming —

Where race, class, gender, and the law collide, a conversation begins.

It’s an ideal solution for your diversity programming needs:

Staff training, MLK & diversity week events, first-year experiences & orientation, Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, community outreach, keynote presentations, and more.
Ready to bring this compelling, fully immersive experience to your organization?