Defamation: The Play

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Written by: Anya Sastry ’20 (Web Staff Writer)

On the morning of Saturday, January 13th, students and faculty filed into Olcott gym for the Martin Luther King Jr. Pelican Day. Leading up to that Saturday, campus was buzzing with excitement for the interactive play dealing with a civil law case of defamation. As the clock ticked towards 9 AM, the audience found their seats and silence blanketed the gym as the play began.

The premise of the play surrounds three main characters: Ms. Wade, Mr. Goldman, and Ms. Jordan. Ms. Wade, an African American woman, lives in the South Side of Chicago and comes from a lower socio-economic background. In contrast, Mr. Goldman, who is a Jewish man, lives in the wealthy suburbs of Winnetka. The play takes place in a courthouse, as Ms. Wade has sued Mr. Goldman on account of defamation.

Prior to the hearing, Wade worked for a graphics company that was employed by Jordan’s company for twenty-five years. They had always done great business with each other and there were no problems. In fact, it had been so good that Jordan had decided to recommend Wade to a friend, Mr. Goldman, who was looking for someone in Wade’s line of work. Following the recommendation, Goldman got in touch with Wade and set up an interview with her at his house.

On a boiling hot summer day, Wade traveled for hours by foot and train to reach Goldman’s house for the interview, only to find out that he would be late. To add to that, Wade was not offered any water upon arriving after her hours-long, tiring journey. When Goldman finally arrived, they began the interview and it all seemed to be going smoothly, until Goldman had to interrupt the interview to take an urgent call. The call went on for about fifteen minutes and when Goldman returned, the interview continued and ended about twenty minutes later. After Wade left the house, Goldman returned to his office, only to find that a valuable family heirloom, a watch that had been passed down throughout the generations, had gone missing.

Upon realizing that the watch was missing, Goldman called Jordan for legal advice. Jordan then proceeded to instruct Goldman to call Wade and ask if she had seen it. Taking the advice, Goldman called Wade and asked if she had noticed it anywhere in his office earlier that afternoon. Wade thought as to whether she had seen the watch or not, and replied with a no, as she had not. However, things took a turn for the worse when Goldman kept pressing and even asked if the watch was somehow in Wade’s purse, insinuating that she had stolen it. After Wade repeatedly said no, Goldman hung up and called Jordan back. After a brief conversation, Goldman pointedly said to Jordan, “If I were you, I would not do business with [Ms. Wade].”. A couple of days later, Jordan’s firm picked a rival company over Wade’s company, however Jordan didn’t call Wade to tell her even after twenty-five years of business. In fact, it took multiple calls on Wade’s end to finally get on the line with Jordan. Due to this loss of business, Wade’s company, already enduring financial instability, spiraled out of control.

Fast forward to the hearing and Ms. Wade is suing Mr. Goldman for defamation, saying that his words to Ms. Jordan, based on inaccurate conclusions, led to Ms. Wade’s financial downfall. The play explored themes of class, gender, and race and not only gave students something to think about, but also allowed them to voice their opinions during an open-mic session after the performance. One of the activities that the audience participated in was deciding who won the case, Ms. Wade or Mr. Goldman. After a few rounds of voting, The Loomis Chaffee School voted in favor of the defendant, Mr. Goldman, however only by a few votes.

Following the performance, the school split up into advisor groups and discussed all aspects of the play, as well as any opinions students might have. Overall, the Martin Luther King Jr. Pelican Day was a success and Defamation: The Play was an eye-opening, thought-provoking performance that stimulated the minds of the LC community long after the show ended.