The Defamation Experience Come to Kalamazoo Valley Oct. 5

09/17/2018

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In 2010, playwright Todd Logan wrote a unique, interactive play called The Defamation Experience which promotes discussion on prejudices in modern society. Since then, The Defamation Experience has brought new opinions and discussions to more than 75,000 people across the country in nearly 400 shows. The Kalamazoo Valley Committee for Cultural Understanding (KVCCU) and the college’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion have invited the group to perform at the Texas Township Campus on Oct. 5 from 7-9 p.m. in the Dale B. Lake Auditorium.

Using a courtroom drama, this play encourages self-examination and frank conversation about prejudices such as race, gender, religion, class and more. The story follows the case of an African-American woman who sues a Jewish businessman after he accuses her of robbery. Rather than being mere onlookers, the audience becomes the jury. Each member votes on the outcome of the case, and the decision is followed by a post-discussion in which a facilitator invites the audience to discuss everything the play brings to light.

Logan described this type of discussion as his vision, saying, “I decided to write a play that would spur self-examination and honest conversation.” He added that it “reveals a national hunger… People want to hear and be heard.” Managing producer Kimm Beavers added, “People tend to be more open and less defensive, and this proves the merit of the production.”

What makes The Defamation Experience different is that the main focus is on the post-show discussion rather than the action on stage. Beavers shared that a simple act such as sitting in the audience challenges individual beliefs and results in a much-needed opportunity for self-examination. She said, “We’re creating a safe environment to talk about uncomfortable subjects and have organic conversations. People can let their guard down and gain cultural understanding and awareness.”

According to Beavers, The Defamation Experience “creates a conversation around finding solutions that change the social climate…Life is a constant process of conflict and resolution; the trick is to find the resolution.”

This statement lines up with the goals of the KVCCU and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. These sponsors play a large role in bringing the play to the Kalamazoo community and in keeping it free for the public. Dr. LaSonda Wells, chairperson for the committee, described the committee’s vision as “honoring diversity, cultural differences and intentional inclusivity.” The mission for accomplishing this is to provide opportunities, like The Defamation Experience, so the Kalamazoo Valley community grows in cultural understanding. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion also works toward a similar goal by focusing on policies impacting Kalamazoo Valley. Trice Batson, coordinator of diversity and inclusion and vice-chair for the KVCCU, is looking forward to seeing how the community responds to the play.

He noted that in regard to diversity and inclusion, “Everyone is on a different level of their journey, which is as uniquely different as a fingerprint. Come join us.”

The event is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited. RSVP Now. For more information, contact Wells at lwells@kvcc.edu or 269.488.4669 or Batson at tbatson@kvcc.edu or 269.488.4119. Learn more about The Defamation Experience at http://www.thedefamationexperience.com.