On Wednesday, February 22, HNU hosted a performance of Defamation, a play by Todd Logan, in the Valley Center for the Performing Arts. The play depicts the latter stages of a civil suit filed in Chicago: a South Side African-American woman sues a Jewish North Shore real estate developer for defamation, and the legal issue is whether she was falsely accused of stealing his watch. At the end of the play, the audience acts as the jury and delivers a verdict. HNU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the community attended the performance and participated in the post-show discussion about the play and the questions it raises about the justice system, prejudice, race, class, religion, and gender.
HNU junior Fredy Trujillo felt that attending the play had been a valuable experience. “The play was very interesting and interactive,” he said. “The discussion after the play was where I really got to dive deep. There were a few points brought out from the audience that opened a simple civil suit into a social justice trial. I'm glad that I went and I hope to see something like that again.”
HNU sophomore Garrett Mitchell had a similar reaction to the play. “I think the play brought up a lot of social issues happening in this country currently. It did a good job of presenting and discussing them afterwards,” he said. “I enjoyed the play because I was able to see both perspectives before I started to identify with one side. There were also parts that I wasn't able to identify with, being a Caucasian male with no religious background. Overall, I think that the play was smart in the way that it provoked thought and discussion between the cast and audience.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beth Martin, PhD, spoke about the play’s relevance in her introduction to the performance. “The play's content and purpose is entirely aligned with the mission of Holy Names University and with the charism of the Sisters of the Holy Names, i.e., welcoming diversity in all forms, supporting cross-cultural dialogue, and educating the world one student at a time.”
Vice President for Mission Integration Carol Sellman, SNJM ’69, MM ’78, EdD, who has been overseeing the HNU Diversity Task Force, noted that, "Offering Defamation on our campus provided a wonderful opportunity for the HNU community, our local neighbors, and alumni to gather and experience the powerful message of the play while facing our own biases and taking time to dialogue about how we encounter diversity in our lives."