Cliftonians stage Shakespearean trial at the Royal Courts of Justice
20 sixth-form pupils have had the privilege and thrill of staging a Shakespearean trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, London.
The RCJ site, which sits on the Strand, Westminster, houses both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, and has seen many famous cases such as the ruling on the triggering of Article 50, the decision to end life support for Charlie Gard, and the libel charges brought by Christopher Jefferies against his newspaper vilifiers, for which both the Daily Mirror and the Sun were fined.
The Clifton pupils, including aspirant lawyers, actors and literary students, travelled to London in September 2017. Using one of the actual court-rooms in the RCJ, they put on trial the character of Goneril, the eldest daughter in the play King Lear, for the offence of encouraging or assisting a crime under the Serious Crimes Act of 2007. Taking on the roles of the defendant herself, Edmund (the alleged assassin), and Albany (the intended victim), as well as the roles of further prosecution and defence witnesses, barristers, judge and jury, the trial tested not only their acting abilities and powers of persuasion, but their skills of fine reasoning, needed to apply legal principles to the complexities of Shakespeare's plot with it shifting subtexts of motive and malignity.
The trial was the conclusion of packed two-day trip, during which pupils also saw a full-length professional production of King Lear at Shakespeare's Globe, and participated in multiple workshops on the play with members of the Globe Theatre Company and the Royal Courts of Justice staff. They also found the time to enjoy a production of the Olivier Award-winning farce, The play that goes wrong, which all agreed was a welcome complement to darkness and drama of Shakespeare's bloody tragedy.