Speech and Debate (play)

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Speech & Debate is a play written by Stephen Karam. The play concerns three misfit teenagers who live in Salem, Oregon.

Production history[edit]

The play was originally performed as a workshop production at Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island in July 2006.[1] It was directed by Lowry Marshall.[2]

Speech & Debate opened Off-Broadway at Roundabout Underground on October 2007 and ran through February 28, 2008 in a Roundabout Theater Company production.[3] Directed by Jason Moore, the cast featured Gideon Glick (Howie), Sarah Steele (Diwata), Jason Fuchs (Solomon) and Susan Blackwell (Teacher/Reporter).[4]

The play, a dark comedy with music, concerns three misfit teenagers, Howie (openly gay), Solomon (nerdy), and Diwata (frumpy and obsessed with musicals), and their attempts to expose a drama teacher who preys on teen boys. It received generally positive reviews. The New York Times reviewer wrote: "Stephen Karam’s dark comedy seems to be about a frumpy girl, a nerdy guy and an openly gay guy who band together to disclose the truth about a teacher who preys on his male students. But that topical plot is almost window dressing. The play’s real accomplishment is its picture of the borderland between late adolescence and adulthood, where grown-up ideas and ambition coexist with childish will and bravado."[4] The Variety reviewer wrote: "Karam and Moore start out on a high with some snappy early scenes enlivened by sharp character presentation and witty use of rear-wall computer desktops (Anna Louizos did the resourceful utilitarian set; Brett Jarvis designed the projections). Means and motivations unravel slightly thereafter, particularly in a bloated midsection with overlong consecutive scenes between Diwata and each of the guys. But while the setup is lumpy, the conflicts explode in consistently intriguing ways. And Karam uses both the advantages and perils of cyberspace to make amusing, original points."[5]

The play has been performed subsequently, for example in 2008 at 2nd Stage Theatre in Hollywood, California.[6] The Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote: "The... play, despite the sobering themes it touches on, is an extremely playful, even uproarious comedy about high school nerd subcultures, sexual confusion and the social effect of the Internet. 'Speech & Debate' opens, in fact, with a precocious teen named Howie dressed in his underwear and exchanging alluring chat-room messages to the ironic accompaniment of Aaron Copland's booming 'Fanfare for the Common Man.'"[6]


  1. ^ "'Speech & Debate' Listing and History" artistsrep.org, accessed May 15, 2012
  2. ^ "'Speech & Debate' Listing, 2006" brown.edu, accessed May 15, 2012
  3. ^ 'Listing" roundabouttheatre.org, accessed ay 15, 2012
  4. ^ a b James, Caryn. "Theater Review. 'Speech & Debate'" The New York Times, October 30, 2007
  5. ^ Rooney, David. "Legit Reviews. 'Speech & Debate'" Variety, October 29, 2007
  6. ^ a b Kendt, Rob. 'Theater:Adolescence in all its awkward glory" Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2008

External links[edit]