The Strange Case of the Case ~ Zachary Formwalt; Night of January 16th: A counter-play. Performance with DAI students

05.02.17

As Brecht puts it in The Threepenny Lawsuit: “When the question arises whether there is justice or legal process, then the answer must be: legal process.” The court is where a certain part of the legal process takes place and this process often produces outcomes that might seem to contradict the ideals of justice that the law is supposed to uphold. The initial idea for this performance was to adapt Ayn Rand’s play Night of January 16th, so that the character on trial was not the lover of a financier, entrepreneur and industrialist whom she was accused of murdering, but the corporate person as such.

Not only did this approach prove to be unwieldy, but Formwalt began to understand it as wrong-headed for a number of other reasons; Not least of these was that it somehow left the space of the court as a “house of justice” in tact.

"So what are we doing with this play, where Ayn Rand discovered the courtroom as a perfect space for the direct delivery of her version of capitalist ideology? We are turning away from it, towards a small detail in a nineteenth century United States Supreme Court case that would prove foundational in the establishment of corporate personality as it is understood today in the United States. We’re going to stage the filming of the testimony in question as a series of screen tests. There are some prepared answers to some prepared questions. A lawyer should never ask a question to which s/he doesn’t know the answer, as the saying goes. Since we are not lawyers, there will hopefully also be some unprepared questions".

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