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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: March ::
I know he's only a character but . . .
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0201  Monday, 19 March 2007

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Monday, March 19, 2007
Subject: 	I know he's only a character but . . .

FROM: Scotsman.com News:
Sane or not, Hamlet a hit in Washington trial
By James Vicini

http://news.scotsman.com/latest_odd.cfm?id=415162007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sane or not sane? That was the question at 
Hamlet's trial presided over by a real U.S. Supreme Court justice late 
on Thursday, centuries after Shakespeare's fictional Prince of Denmark 
fatally stabbed the garrulous busybody Polonius.  But here's the rub. 
The jury deadlocked.

The mock trial at Washington's John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing 
Arts, was the "hottest ticket in town," said Justice Anthony Kennedy, 
who was attired in his formal black Supreme Court robes for the occasion.

Hamlet's lawyers argued the insanity defence, based on his delusions and 
depression. Prosecutors replied that the brooding prince was feigning 
madness, knew right from wrong and should be held criminally 
responsible.  An insanity verdict meant "something would be rotten in 
Denmark," argued one of Hamlet's defence lawyers to laughter from an 
audience that appreciated her quoting from the play.

In the end, six jurors ruled Hamlet was sane and six others ruled he was 
insane.  After the verdict was read, Michael Kahn, the Shakespeare 
Theatre Company artistic director, urged a retrial.

[ . . . ]

FROM: BostonHerald.com
At Shakespeare festival, hung jury leaves Hamlet in limbo
By Brett Zongker

http://theedge.bostonherald.com/artsNews/view.bg?articleid=188964

WASHINGTON-The question of Hamlet's sanity remains unanswered after a 
Washington jury delivered an evenly split verdict on whether he should 
be held criminally responsible for the fatal stabbing of Polonius.

Wearing a brown jail suit with a white ruffle collar, "Hamlet" appeared 
Thursday before Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in a sold-out 
theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The 
unscripted mock court trial, combining modern law and Shakespeare's 
account of Hamlet, was part of the ongoing Shakespeare in Washington 
festival, which runs through June.

After the verdict, Kennedy remanded the Danish prince to "the pages of 
our literary heritage."

In Shakespeare's play, the killing of Polonius occurs shortly after 
Hamlet returns to Denmark for the funeral of his father, the king of 
Denmark. A grieving Hamlet learns that his mother has married his uncle 
Claudius, the new king. A ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius murdered his 
father, and an enraged Hamlet vows revenge.

But Hamlet's plans go awry. He stabs Polonius, the councilor to the 
king, after hearing a noise behind a curtain and mistakenly thinking it 
is Claudius eavesdropping.

The split verdict by the 12 jurors, who were selected beforehand and 
deliberated for about 20 minutes, was a major blow for the four lawyers 
who argued the case.

"No Dane is above the law," San Francisco attorney Miles Ehrlich said in 
opening statements. "When you pick and choose your time to kill, you are 
in control."

In arguing that Hamlet was not insane, Ehrlich noted that Hamlet plotted 
to kill Claudius and nearly did so in a chapel while Claudius was 
praying. Hamlet decided to wait because he didn't want to send Claudius 
to heaven.

[ . . . ]

FROM: NPR: All Things Considered
Method or Madness? Jury Decides Hamlet's Fate
March 16, 2007

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=8959519

Was Hamlet criminally responsible for mistakenly killing his 
ex-girlfriend's father, Polonius? That is the question argued in a mock 
trial Thursday, as part of a Shakespeare festival in Washington, D.C., 
where lawyers Abbe Lowell and Miles Ehrlich presented oral arguments 
before a jury.

The defense, represented by Lowell, argued "no." Hamlet, they 
maintained, suffered from something called psychotic affective disorder, 
and he was a bit bipolar.

The prosecution, represented by Ehrlich, maintains that Hamlet was 
perfectly sane, knew that killing was wrong, and was in control of his 
actions.

The Shakespeare in Washington festival continues through June of 2007.

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