Honors | Trial as Theatre (HON)
H237 | 29011 | Perry Hodges


TuTh 2:30-3:45pm
HU 108

Legal trials, like plays, have actors, dialogue, audiences, and
special spaces for their performances. More importantly, they both
expose and give shape to the tensions that exist within society
(between individual and state, parent and child, sacred and secular)
and let us watch as actors struggle to resolve these conflicts: to
transform negative energy into positive, or to raise a voice against
oppression. To understand how the two kinds of drama re-enact these
tensions, this course will begin with the idea of theater as "the
arena where a living confrontation takes place." We will consider
the dramatic strategies used by both drama and trial alike: the way,
for example, both manipulate stories and to what end; how certain
kinds of drama seek to bring about spiritual transformation and even
cultural revolution, while the trial, though using similar
techniques, seeks to maintain cultural and political stability.
Selected plays and cases drawn from first amendment law will be
read. Influential modern theater directors will provide insights
into the role of art in society and the particular challenges
intrinsic to these two performative genres.

Close readings of texts will be emphasized. Class presentations,
regular brief response papers, and two longer papers will be
required.

Readings (tentative): Sophocles’ Antigone; Jean Anouihl’s reworking
of Antigone; the story of Joan of Arc, including the trial record
(1431), George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan (1923), and Dreyer’s 1928
silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc; selected early and recent
first amendment trials; the trial of the Chicago Seven; selections
from Antonin Artaud’s The Theatre and its Double and Peter Brook’s
The Empty Space.