Grid Iron Theatre Company and Traverse Theatre Company to Present JURY PLAY
Directed by Ben Harrison, and co-written with academic Dr Jenny Scott, Jury Play will turn Traverse 1 into a 'Court of Law' to investigate the passive role of the jury in current court proceedings.
As they make their way to the 'court room', audience members will be given the chance to opt in to the jury. Once settled in the 'public gallery', fifteen jurors will be selected and will make their way to the jury box. And so we begin...
The production presents extracts of a fictionalised 52-day murder trial - the judge's direction, the cross-examination of witnesses, the presentation of evidence - all suffocated in detail and legal jargon. The jury is additionally surrounded by the 'extra-legal' information they are improbably instructed to forget: tabloid headlines; the mugshot; the imagined murder scene; lurid descriptions of the accused.
Some jury members doze off, fiddle with their split ends, day dream, worry about the jobs they are missing, and disclose their inner monologues.
As the trial concludes, the jury are discharged to begin their deliberations - but one brave member admits that she has not understood everything that has happened and doesn't feel equipped to make a decision. Surprised to receive the support of the Judge, what follows is a reimagining of how a criminal trial might play out if the jury were to be afforded greater opportunity to ask questions and participate.
Jury Play will propose the use of better dialogue and more transparent decision making in a process that fundamentally affects people's futures.
Ben Harrison, Director and Co-writer, says:
'Inspired by the pioneering work of Dr Jenny Scott as she seeks to reveal all the forces acting on the jury, I am particularly interested in the way that the physical surroundings of the court could affect the conduct of the trial. In addition, the length of the trial, the lack of natural light, and being pulled away from work or domestic situations. Grid Iron and the Traverse have had a long and happy working relationship and this collaboration deepens it further with our shared ambition to create new texts and play with theatrical form - staging it at the Traverse, with its flexible seating, allows us huge opportunities to be playful with the architecture that the rigidity of an actual court room would not permit. I hope audiences will think anew about our jury system and whether it is fit for purpose.'
Jenny Scott, Co-writer, says:
'Working with Grid Iron and the fantastic artistic vision of Ben Harrison has meant that I have had the chance to expand the boundaries of jury research like never before. Jury Play represents world leading research and it has been a journey of inquiry in which we challenge the presumption of juror participation in criminal trials. I hope that Jury Play will allow the general public to take their turn in calling to question an institution which has remained unchanged since the 1800s.'
Orla O'Loughlin, Traverse Artistic Director, says:
'The Traverse is proud to stand with the best of Scottish, UK and global artists, and we are delighted to be collaborating with Grid Iron, one of the country's most innovative companies, on Jury Play. We are relishing the opportunity to work with them ask some timely and crucial questions about an important aspect of our society, and to explore how looking at our judicial system afresh could create tangible change for us all.'
Performances will take place at Traverse Theatre, 3-7 October, 7:30pm (matinee 7 October, 2:30pm) For tickets and more information visit traverse.co.uk.
Note: Jury selection will take place at the start of each performance. Audience members will have the option to opt in as they enter.