Portfolio Contents

Dear Mrs. Molodow,

Over the last few weeks, at your will, I was engaged heavily in preparation for a project referred to as “the Hamlet Trials.” As you are aware, during this time my esteemed colleagues and I prepared an ironclad case against the traitor Horatio. Due to a terrible miscarriage of justice, he was acquitted. Overall, however, I feel that are work was pretty decent.

As for our prepared statements, we all did a fairly good job of finding evidence in the play (for what, in all candor, was an invented case). We found several suspicious circumstances, problems in stories, and further mysteries which clearly pointed to Horatio's guilt. We each prepared separate drafts of both opening and closing statements and then worked to splice them into one statement. In both cases, however, the statement ended up being based largely one person's draft (opening: Joey's with my opening, closing: mine with a few arguments removed). I don't know whether this ought to be considered a good or bad thing. Both statements ended up pretty well.

Questioning was a little bit more difficult. Since our reasoning in selecting Horatio as a defendant was largely motivated by a commitment to keeping to the present state of affairs in which Horatio was the only living main character, our case was partially built on the suspicious circumstance that Horatio was the only one living. As such, we refrained from calling any non-living witnesses and questioned only minor characters. This would have been a very effective technique, if the defense had shared our commitment to maintaining a present reality. Unfortunately, neither the defense nor the court upheld our objections to the ridiculous practice of questioning witnesses who are dead (without the use of a medium or psychic...). This hurt our argument. More practically, because we were using primarily minor characters, the people who portrayed our witnesses were not particularly well-versed in their persona. Perhaps this could be remedied by having a process of prepping the witnesses beyond simply providing a script. On the topic of scripts, I think they should be pre-checked for inaccuracies and, as a rule, complaints against inaccuracies should be rendered by the court rather than the opposition. As it was carried out, I found that too many objections were being lodged on grounds of “inadequate textual evidence.” I found this a bogus procedure that hurt the realism of the exercise. I think that because the text is so limited in scope, offscreen action and circumstance should be able to be testified to by the portrayer of a witness (who is well versed in his character). For example, to circumvent a challenge to a witness, I tried to use a line of questioning that would establish that a person was still privy to a discussion despite not being immediately in the scene. To do this, I attempted to ask about the carrying of sound in the castle (which is, in fact, demonstrated in other scenes, for example when Palonius and Claudius spy on Hamlet), but to answer the witness would have to make suppositions based on extending the Hamlet universe to a plausible reality; by the current model of the project, this is not allowed. I think if the whole point is to gain a deeper understanding of the play through role-playing, the circumstance should be well-developed rather than only based on textual evidence. Nevertheless, overall are testimony went alright. The biggest remaining problem was that different lawyers on the same team didn't always undestand the plans of their colleagues, so some contradictory questions were asked.

To be frank, I'm not sure I understand the usefulness of the exercise. I don't think the portrayal of a mock trial is particularly beneficial to the aims of the course. I didn't dislike actually working on the assignment myself, but I just don't think its necessarily the best use of a substantial block of time. It should, perhaps, be done after the AP Exam and should focus more on elements of role-playing and dramatic interpretation (which is itself a valid form of literary analysis) by the witness rather than preparation of a case by the lawyers (which is at best, an exercise in persuasive writing, why we have the debate in AP Language). To this end, there are probably better projects to serve these aims.

Overall, as it is, I think I did pretty decently on the project despite our unfavorable verdict. I will see shortly wether my grade corroborates this.

Thank you,

my signature

Donald Guy, Esq

Stasulis, Guy, and Foyles, LLP