The Playfulness of Constitutional Law

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I am about to perform a piece of political theatre. I have an audience, a script and a role. For some time, I have been reflecting on the intersection between political theatre and law. It is my perception that the High Court is engaged in political theatre and that as legal academics, in lecturing and giving papers, we are also engaged in political theatre. This article developed from an unsuccessful attempt by a law student to persuade the High Court to judge the political deeds of our current Prime Minister, and from the idea of a Sydney playwright to turn this story into a play. The High Court chose not to hear the case the student tried to argue under s 44 of the Constitution. However, this case, or perhaps a fictitious case dealing with the same themes, may be heard by theatre audiences in a year or two with actors playing the roles of High Court judges, in a theatrical environment very different (or is it so different?) from that of the courtroom.
Lawyers are familiar with the depersonalising process by which courtrooms turn people’s stories, their lives, into legal narratives. Writing this play requires a reversal of this process, a conversion of a dry impersonal constitutional law narrative into a dramatic event. Individual stories and characters must be teased out and developed from a somewhat unpromising beginning: a terse, patronising, two and a half page statement of reasons as to why the High Court refused, or was unwilling to, hear this case.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-203
JournalSouthern Cross University Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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