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Reenactments -- Historic Courtroom Theater



Welcome to our Reenactments Instructions Page. If you are interested in performing one of our reenactments, please take a moment to review the material we have posted about the currently available scripts. For each script, we have provided a brief summary, an excerpt from the script, a list of the roles, a timeline, a list of resources, a list of prior performances and discussion questions. Select the script you are interested in and then proceed to the Contact Page to request your script. With the materials provided, you can put on your own performance. Following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Once you have put on your performance, we would appreciate hearing from you so that we can add your performance to our list and learn of any suggestions you may have.

F.A.Q.

Q. What are the reenactments?

A. These reenactments tell the story of an historic case, through a dramatic reading of a script that combines excerpts of court transcripts with original narration. The reenactments can be "performed" before an audience, or they can be read informally, e.g., in a classroom. Discussion and Q&A can follow the reenactment.

Q. How long are the scripts?

A. Each script runs for approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

Q. Who performs the scripts?

A. The scripts can be performed by anyone -- students, lawyers, and others interested in learning about an important case. Students in a history class, for example, can play the different roles. Each script has a dozen or more roles. Some actors can play multiple roles, particularly for smaller parts.

Q. Must the actors memorize their lines?

A. The actors are not expected to memorize their lines, and acting experience is not required. They will read their lines from a copy of the script, which we suggest be placed in a binder for uniformity of appearance. The actors should read with some feeling; these work best as dramatic, theatrical presentations.

Q. What about staging and costumes?

A. Simple staging and simple costumes are all that is required. For a performance, you will want a simple courtroom setup -- the judge's "bench," two counsel tables for the lawyers, and a chair for the witness. Costumes will vary according to the script; you may want to use judges' robes for the scenes with judges. For an informal reading, staging and costumes are not required at all.

Q. How are the slides used?

A. The slides run throughout, in the background. The slides -- for example, of historic photographs -- help tell the story and identify the players. You will need equipment to project the slides (PowerPoint), and someone will have to operate the equipment.

Q. What other resources do you provide?

A. We provide for each case a script, slides, timeline, list of prior performances, discussion questions, and bibliography and list of resources.

Q. How do I obtain a script and the other resources?

A. Please visit our Contact page and fill out the application. Once you do so, someone will contact you to follow up. We ask that you agree to use the materials only for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Q. Who wrote the scripts?

A. The scripts were prepared by different organizations, including the Asian American Bar Association of New York and the Federal Bar Council Inn of Court. The scripts are being made available for use on this website with permission of these organizations. We are grateful to these organizations for sharing these materials with us and making them available to the public.

Q. Is there a fee?

A. No.

Contact Us

  • U.S. Court of Appeals Library
    Thurgood Marshall
    U.S. Courthouse
    40 Foley Square
    New York, NY 10007

  • Email

    justiceforall@
    ca2.uscourts.gov

  • Telephone

    (212) 857-8930