Closing Arguments: Monodic, Character Voices in Making Courtroom Drama

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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 as evidence under bond to keep this case secure.” 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. In an actual trial, the closing argument is a critical moment for the attorney who attempts to persuade a jury in favor of his or her client. On the stage, the dramatic convention of the theatrical monologue is often used to persuade an audience of a character’s actions. This paper will examine the authorial process of writing the theatrical “legal” monologue, connecting courtroom situations to fictional characters in the expression social and legal justice.


Keywords: Author Process, Literary Art, Performing Art, Social Justice
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Closing Arguments


Prof. Dwight Watson

Professor of Theater, Chair, Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, Theater Department
Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, Wabash College

Crawfordsville, Indiana, USA

Dwight Watson is a Professor of Theatre at Wabash College and an active member of the academic and artistic community for more than twenty-five years. As a director, Professor Watson has directed over sixty productions for educational and professional theatres. He has received several playwriting awards and grants including an Indiana Artist Master Fellowship and the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Scholarship. His book, ORIGINAL MONOLOGS THAT SHOWCASE YOUR TALENT, was published in 2005 by Allworth Press (NYC). In addition to his teaching duties at Wabash College, Professor Watson serves at the Chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.

Ref: A07P0015