Speech and Debate
Written by Stephen Karam
Directed by Sarah Sosland
The Student Theater at Agganis Arena
Speech & Debate is a dark comedy that is too smart to ever call itself a “dramedy.” It revolves around three misfit high school students in Salem, Oregon: Solomon, a school newspaper reporter; Howie, a gay transfer kid; and Diwata, a wannabe actress who can’t even get cast in her school district. The three come together to expose their drama teacher for sexually abusing teen boys by competing in a Speech & Debate contest. The play covers tough issues (abortion, homophobia, sexual assault) with an honesty that makes it heart wrenching, compelling, and funny at the same time.
2M, 3 F
Solomon (M): Sixteen. An extremely determined and serious high school reporter who will do anything to break a story. While he’s bold in his work, he’s shy in his personal life. He is working to come to terms with events in his past and what that means for his future.
Diwata (F): Seventeen. The comedic powerhouse of the show. She wants to be an actress more than anything, but turns to Speech & Debate club when she can’t get cast in a play. She is strong-willed, confident, and off the rails.
Howie (M): Eighteen. The most reserved of the three. Howie came out as gay at nine and has never felt the need to hide it. He is thrown for a loop when his family moves from Portland to Salem, Oregon, where people are not as open-minded.
Teacher (F): Thirty. The advisor of the school newspaper. She is a liberal woman herself, but shuts Solomon down when he tries to pitch stories about sensitive issues.
Reporter (F): Forty. A nosy but kind journalist, who wants to write an article about Solomon, Diwata, and Howie.