FT 05-K Legal Drama: An Intersection between the Courtroom and the Theater
Dwight Watson, Department of Theater, TTh, 9:45
Connections between the legal world and the world of theater were made early in the life of drama. Oral arguments, for example, were scripted in Aeschylus’ The Eumenides as Athena summons, “Litigants, call your witnesses, have ready your proofs....” During Shakespeare’s day, law students at the English Inns of Court performed plays and enacted moot court “trials” as part of their training. Today, the courtroom as a theater in which trials are witnessed or viewed publicly is a common occurrence. Similarly, courtroom drama with its tightly woven plot, strict focus on tension and mounting suspense, sensational double twists, and a gallery of colorful characters is widely popular in novels, television, films, and on the stage. Often famous court cases are dramatized for the stage with varying degrees of historical accuracy. The class will investigate a docket of courtroom dramas, along with films, celebrated court cases, historical and theatrical materials related to this genre. We will study Lawrence’s and Lee’s Inherit the Wind, Saul Levitt’s The Andersonville Trial, Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men, Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice, and John Logan’s Never the Sinner.