As 2017 gets underway, it is becoming increasingly important to raise awareness about social issues going on not only in the US, but in the rest of the world as well. Thus, Residence Life, Student Activities, and Community Engagement teamed up to present “Defamation” on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 pm in the SCC Boardrooms.
“Defamation” is a play that brings up the issues of race, class, religion and gender. It was performed by 6 actors: Jeanne T. Arrigo in the role of Judge Adrian Barnes, F. David Roth as Mr. Lawton, Risha Tena Hill as Regina Wade, Kimm Beavers as Ms. Allen, Marquecia Jordan as Lorraine Jordan and Brian Rabinowitz in the role of Arthur Golden.
The play started with Mrs. Wade’s lawyer, Mr. Lawton, asking her several questions regarding the case. The plaintiff, Regina Wade, is suing Mr. Golden for Defamation. To win her case, she must prove both that a false statement was made about her to a third party and that she was damaged financially as a direct result of that false statement. Then it was Ms. Allen’s turn to defend his accused.
After an hour of plea, the public, made up of students and faculty, was ready to deliberate. Regina Wade won the case with 77 votes, leaving Mr. Golden worse off with 57 votes.
At the end of the performance, actress Kimm Beavers engaged students in a discussion by asking them questions such as “could all of you relate to the issues raised in this play?” and “what element of this play particularly caught your attention?”
The audience actively participated in the discussion as students voiced their opinion on the subject matter and asked questions to the actors. Many students represented their organizations like LEAD scholars, sororities like Tri Sigma and Alpha Sigma Tau, and
fraternities like TKE. Some claimed that it was a requirement, but most were glad that they came. Some even came because they want to become a lawyer.
Quincy Claitt, a sophomore and psychology major, was highly satisfied and he actively engaged in the dialogue.
“I think the event well. I think we need to have more events like this for us to understand a little bit more about what is going on in society, and what race is all about and racial profiling,” said Claitt.
“I feel like this brings forth an uncomfortable topic that needs to be addressed, especially now that we’re in college, so when we get out in the real world we can make a difference. We could be the ones to change our society for the better,” he added.
KJ McConnell, Director of Residence Life and leadership, was thrilled to have sponsored this event.
“We’re really lucky that they reached out to us, and shared what their event was about. I think anytime we can engage in dialogue about any type of differences, and we’re fortunate that this play covers lots of differences, and that’s exactly the type of thing we want to bring to our students; so we did.”
McConnell also voiced her thoughts about the impact that the play had on both the students and herself.
“I think it was great! I know that not all students were able to stay for the full conversation at the end, but those are the types of conversations that make a difference. So I think that’s the best,” responded McConnell. “So for me, it was very meaningful to hear all the different perspectives, and really I think what means the most is students willing to speak
up and share their thoughts. They felt comfortable doing that, and I think that’s what Saint Leo is about.”
Kimm Beavers, the actress who played Ms. Allen, explained how the issues raised by the play impacted her as a woman and actress in her career so far.
“I grew up in an all-black neighborhood, I went to an all-black high school, all-black elementary school, all-black college twice, and I thought that because I was well traveled, well educated, well spoken, that I knew some white people, that I was “diverse”, that my circle was diverse, and it really wasn’t, and my perspectives were always one sided. I started to realize the more I had these kinds of conversations, how much my bias was affecting some of my decisions. They weren’t drastic, but I felt that I wasn’t being as objective, but that’s because I had not exposed myself to different relationships,” she explained.
“And I’m not just talking about social relationships, but important intimate friendships with people of different cultures, and how you always going to be who you are culturally, but you now have other friends that are of a different culture. So you just have to be mindful of that, and they are mindful of your experiences as well as you being mindful of their experiences. The beautiful thing about that is, I now have these kinds of conversations with my other friends of other cultures. And so, it has broadened my perspectives a lot more that I thought it was” Beaver concluded.
Beaver went on to say that she was impressed with the attentiveness of the students.
“The students were very engaged; they were very active in the conversation, they were very present in their comments and very mindful of their thoughts and opinions. And that’s what we want to see.”
The event ended on a nice note leaving the audience with ideas to develop and information on how to tackle these issues in our daily life.