Publication Details

M. Leiboff, 'Theatricalizing Law' (2018) 30 (2) Law and Literature 351-367.


To theatricalize law is to ask lawyers to be aware and responsive to the world that creates them and to be conscious of worlds beyond words. For the theatrical reminds us that law has to see as well as to interpret, and that seeing occurs through the body, even more so than the intellect. Reviewing the work of some of the key scholars whose work engages with the concept of theatricalizing law, this article challenges the presumption of dramatic verities and certainties as the mark of an effective critical form in law. Instead, to think law theatrically challenges knowledge, expectations, beliefs, certainties, assumptions, and prejudices, and this article concludes with an example of the challenge wrought by a simple theatricalization in which a set of images that could and did mean anything were played, allowing the audience to make their choices because they were unguided. And then the most exceptional and meaningless of the images were explained, and the horror imbricated in them revealed. This theatricalization did its job, and the text revealed in ways that law as drama could not, as this article reveals, as a theatricalization of its own.



Link to publisher version (DOI)