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Legal proceedings are a seminal example of a cultural performance. For this case study I observed Murder trial proceedings at the Supreme Court of New South Wales (Taylor Square) - September 2004

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THFI 1002 READING PERFORMANCE LAURA GOODMAN PEFORMANCE ANALYSIS FIELWORK EXERCISE z3100656 DUE THUSDAY 16th SEPTEMBER WEEK 8 Legal proceedings are a seminal example of a cultural performance. For this case study I observed Murder trial proceedings at the Supreme Court of New South Wales (Taylor Square) - September 2004 The performance of a legal proceeding; its content, manner, actors, audience and setting, all reflect certain cultural and societal traditions evident in the practice of age old English tribunals from which the Australian legal system has derived. Yet, from an analysis of these various element one can recognize how this practice reflects the influenced (or lack there of) of many other societal values, religion, gender roles and modernity, on society as a whole. The content of the courtroom performance is based on legal documentation and practice, its roots deeply embedded in precedent and values imbued by the "rule of law". The script of the performance, being the arguments presented by the adversarial bodies and the interaction of the Judge, are carefully comprised and supported by written legal documentation which remains on display for all to see. ...read more.


Technologies are only used, however only to a limited extent. Aside from microphones used by the speaking actor, a television used to screen witness statements and evidence and a video camera on hand- as well as the type writer machine used by the note-taker, technologies used are limited as to maintain a traditional and somber mood. Today, the courtrooms of the Supreme Courts of Australia contain dramatic features, impressing an audience with pomp and circumstance. Courtrooms observed for this study were located in the interior of the courthouse structure and therefore relied on artificial lighting, often subdued and dim. Spatial placement of people in courtroom events enables or restricts their ability to effectively participate in the events. Seating arrangements were oriented to face toward the judge and witness box. The jury, seated in its segregated (privileged) section, also faces the judge but, more importantly, is positioned closest to the open performance space where presentations are generally given. Jurors are given front row seats for the courtroom drama, signifying their saliency in the performance. Seating arrangements and spatial organization reveal hierarchical zones within the courtroom. The presiding judge or administrator is positioned at the highest point in the room, triangulated between the jury and the official adversarial performers. ...read more.


Then bow on entrance to the presiding judge. The end of the performance is preferably marked by a resolution or answer to the legal problem at hand- or the announcement that the "court is adjourned". Courtroom proceedings are of vital importance and significance in community culture. Whilst (usually) being open to the public scrutiny, they are a mean by which hierarchical social structures are put on display. As well as being the forum by with the upstanding, and reasonable judges attempt to serve justice to individuals within their community, within the scope of the "trial" performance all involved are reminded of the law's content, its morality, its dignity and its power. A trial popularizes the law by disseminating and demonstrating it to a lay audience, giving participants the opportunity and the cathartic satisfaction of approving the law by serving as the instruments of deliberation and decision. Furthermore, it democratizes the law by calling the community to witness, and by making it collectively responsible for the law's effectuation. And this is rightly so, for it is the collective community who is ultimately responsible for this performance. The tax payers of the general public, government officials, upstanding well educated professionals and the accused criminals of society come together to both participate and fund this cultural display. 1 ...read more.

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