CSUB students watch “Defamation Experience” and explore issues of race, religion, gender, and class


Fatima Lopez

The cast: Brian Rabinowitz, Melanie Loren, Joe Yau, Will McFadden, Risha Tenae and Gina Taliaferro who are currently on their national tour bringing The Defamation Experience to more universities across the country

Diana Coronado, Reporter

Fatima Lopez
The cast of The Defamation Experience with CSUB staff members, including professor Jeanine Kraybill who helped bring the play to campus with the help of the Kern County Bar Association
Fatima Lopez
Regina Wade (Risha Tenae), who is suing Arthur Golden (Brian Rabinowitz) for defamation, is being questioned by Ms. Allen (Melanie Loren)

California State University Bakersfield students, community members, and faculty gathered together on Feb. 6 to watch a performance of “Defamation Experience,” which explores the way they interact with regard to issues of race, religion, gender and class.

Todd Logan, author of the play, wrote about the importance of the topic of racial discrimination and how it is still an issue to this day.

The “Defamation Experience” gave the audience a chance to participate and input their opinion on an important topic with three components of the play. It’s about a lawsuit touching base on race, religion, gender and class with an unexpected twist: the audience is the jury. A discussion followed after the show.

The play begins in a courtroom in which the case between Regina Wade (Risha Tenae) and Arthur Golden (Brian Rabinowitz) is taking place. Wade is suing Golden for falsely accusing her of stealing his watch. She feels he did such thing because of the color of her skin, and she is asking for 500k in return because this issue has caused her financial harm. The case has been going on for three years.

Wade is an advertising executive who had a meeting set up with wealthy businessman Golden to discuss future business plans. During their meeting, Golden has to step out for a phone call. When he returns, they finish their meeting. Wade thought it went well, and she never thought she would receive a call from Golden accusing her of stealing his watch.

Another racial overtone is how Wade was represented by a white while an African American attorney represented Golden.

The legal issue at hand is whether or not Golden falsely accused Wade of stealing his watch and defamed her, causing financial harm. Both representatives give their sides of the case and now the time has come for the “jury,” the audience, to decide on the outcome of this trial.

At this point the audience had made their decision in the favor of the plaintiff Wade.

“85 percent of the wins are in favor of Wade’s throughout all the times we have done this play,” says Gina Taliaferro, who plays Lorraine Jordan, a witness in the trial.

As the show ended, it was followed with a post-show discussion that allowed the audience to give their thoughts and opinions of the outcome of the play. Audience members pointed out that the majority of minorities were in favor of Wade and most of the white audience voted for Golden.

CSUB criminal justice students expressed how pleased they were with the performance and audience participation.

“The fact that it opened up our eyes towards the end was very helpful, I took her side at the end, overall it was a great experience,” said Nicole Mirkazemi.

Another audience member, Nekeydra Barreto, said, “The number of people who showed up was surprisingly well [sic], from students to community members who were just interested in the play came. I was very happy with the outcome.”