The Case

An African American female business owner sues a wealthy Jewish real estate developer for defamation after she is accused of stealing a family heirloom.

The Twist... Your Audience is the jury.



When race, class, religion, and gender collide a conversation begins about the most important issues of our day.

THE DEFAMATION EXPERIENCE is a courtroom drama with a twist. Through deliberations and post-show discussions, your audience engages in civil discourse that stimulates critical dialogue and conversation.

How the Experience Unfolds

Riveting live courtroom drama ... 75-minutes

Interactive audience deliberation ...15-minutes

Audience post-show discussion ... 30-minutes

Here's the Story

A professional African-American female business owner is invited to the home of a successful Jewish man for a potential business project. After the meeting, he realizes that his family heirloom watch is gone.


Hereby hangs the story of DEFAMATION, wherein this very dilemma leads to a riveting courtroom encounter that illuminates our common perceptions about race, religion and class.

In this case, the plaintiff is Ms. Wade, a professional black woman from the South Side. The defendant is Mr. Golden, a successful North Shore businessman who is Jewish. The play opens with Judge Adrian Barnes laying out the case as well as the stakes involved. Following testimony from each side plus a key witness, the judge tells the audience he's not going to adjudicate the case; the audience will be the jury. He polls them once. Then the judge leads the audience in a 15-minute deliberation. He polls the audience a second time. The result decides the evening's trial.


The case is not a simple "he said, she said." There are twists and turns that keep the audience on their toes. A case without a smoking gun, DEFAMATION challenges our preconceived notions about race, class, religion and even the law. As audience members and then jurors, we learn as much or more about ourselves as we do the plaintiff and the defendant.

More than a Play

THE DEFAMATION EXPERIENCE is a unique opportunity for your community to engage in civil discourse about the most pressing social issues of our day. Conversations started in your venue will last for days, weeks and months.

Since its premier in 2010, THE DEFAMATION EXPERIENCE has been performed for universities, law schools, bar associations, high schools, civic and religious organizations, and theaters across the country.

Tech Requirements

THE DEFAMATION EXPERIENCE has very minimal equipment needs to transform your theater, lecture hall, or banquet room into an actual courtroom

6 actors

Set: 2 tables, 6 chairs

Lighting: House lights up

Minimum stage dimensions: 24w' x 16'd x 1'h

2 Handheld microphones for audience feedback (if needed)

6 wireless body mics (only if room needs amplified sound)