Lawyers love the stage.
They may not care for the theater, but they love what it represents: the issues, the words, the conflict, the rhetoric, the liturgy, the drama.
It’s almost trite to note the similarities between the stage and the courtroom. Lawyers, in their own way, are actors and critics, directors and playwrights, script doctors and casting agents. They love the high-wire feel of a live performance, the adrenaline rush of a storyline playing itself out before an audience—the theater’s jury of peers.
Each August, we devote our cover story to some nexus of law and culture—television or books or film. And this year we’ve trained our experts on works that have become the theater’s greatest court-related plays. From Sophocles to Mamet, our judges have selected 12 courtroom dramas they deem the best ever.
There are revelations. There are disappointments. Like actors who have trouble in the transition from stage to film, there are classics that didn’t make the grade because they were dwarfed by their incarnations on television or the silver screen. And you can log your surprise, express your displeasure or offer your own choices in the comments below.
As in courtrooms across the country, where drama is created in the heroic conflicts of everyday lives, law in the theater—law as theater—is something special and spontaneous. Even when the script is followed, there is almost always the element of surprise.
So let the lights dim. Let the curtain rise. Call the house to order. The jury has reached its verdict on the 12 greatest courtroom dramas ever staged.
Click the link to read about all 12 stage plays and see their Playbills in gallery format.