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STC Presents Mock Trial: The Trial of Winston vs. Oceania-1984

June 9, 2016

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MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2016

Washington, D.C.The Shakespeare Theatre Company, recipient of the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, presents its Annual Dinner and Mock Trial at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street NW) on Monday, June 20, 2016. The evening begins with dinner at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Trial at 7:30 p.m. Guests are invited to hear The Trial of Winston vs. Oceania-1984, an appellate argument based on the definitive book of the 20th century, George Orwell’s 1984, argued before a panel of judges presided over by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Discover why this dystopian novel, written in 1949 and set in a totalitarian world, is as relevant today as ever, particularly against the political backdrop of our nation’s capital.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will preside and be accompanied by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and Judges David S. Tatel, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Patricia A. Millett, United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Marshal Pamela Talkin, Supreme Court of the United States, will serve as Court Marshal.

Bob Bauer of Perkins Coie LLP and Amy Jeffress of Arnold & Porter LLP will argue the case. The Trial will be moderated by Abbe D. Lowell, chair of the STC Bard Association and STC Board of Trustees member. Also participating is guest presenter Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of Shakespeare Theatre Company, says of Mock Trial, “As I’ve often said, Shakespeare doesn’t tell us what to think, he tells us what to think about. This is what Mock Trial does so stunningly, it uses these classic stories as lenses to look at seemingly old issues and bring them to our modern, and legal, world.”

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Mock Trial is sponsored by the Bard Association, STC’s affinity group for Washington’s legal community.

Since 1994, the Shakespeare Theatre Company has hosted a Mock Trial based on a play from STC’s mainstage season. The fictional court case poses a legal question, or questions, and the audience must act as the jury to decide the fate of the characters. The Trial aims to examine the links between classic works and contemporary legal theory in a way that is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Past Mock Trials have explored whether Malvolio (Twelfth Night) was entitled to damages for wrongful imprisonment; Iago (Othello) was guilty of the murders of Desdemona and Othello; Hamlet (Hamlet) was insane when he murdered Polonius; and if Sir John Falstaff (Henry IV) should have been compensated for his services to Prince Hal and reinstated as a member of the royal court. Last year’s Mock Trial concentrated on the characters in Man of La Mancha, arguing whether the Family Court was correct in declaring Don Quixote mentally incompetent, and debating his subsequent placement under the guardianship of his niece, Antonia.

This season’s Mock Trial focuses on the national security and surveillance issues presented in George Orwell’s novel, 1984, and the treatment of Winston Smith by the State of Oceania. Despite promises of restoring individual liberties, President Freeman announced in his first State of the Union address in January 1985 that national security professionals had persuaded him that ongoing serious threats to national security necessitated continuation—for at least the near term—of Big Brother’s intrusive surveillance practices. President Freeman argued that if there is even a one percent chance that a resident might be a revolutionary or a terrorist, Big Brother’s surveillance, detention and interrogation policies must remain available as tools for the new government to protect national security during the transition to a full democracy.

Winston Smith, who had been deeply traumatized by the torture he endured in 1984, was appalled by Freeman’s rationalization for delaying restoration of individual liberties. Smith asserted that liberty could never be restored in a state still governed by the repressive institutions Big Brother created. As soon as judges nominated by President Freeman took office, Smith filed suit under Section 1983 of the Oceania Civil Rights Act in Oceania’s Sovereign District Court. His suit alleged wrongful surveillance, wrongful arrest and detention, and torture by Big Brother and the current Administration—all violations of the illegal search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and due process provisions of Oceania’s Constitution. Smith sued the State of Oceania, seeking both damages based on the state’s alleged orchestrated scheme of repression, and equitable (injunctive) relief to stop the state from its ongoing violations of citizens’ constitutional rights under President Freeman. Smith also sued O’Brien, head of the Thought Police, and two individual police officers who arrested Smith, in their individual capacities, seeking damages for their actions that violated his constitutional rights in 1984.

The audience will be presented with the question: Given the context of war (or threat to national security) should the Oceania officials named as defendants in Smith’s lawsuit be held liable for their treatment of Winston Smith in 1984?



Due to the popularity of this event, press tickets are extremely limited. Press wishing to cover the event should contact the Press Department for more information at Please note: a press inquiry does not guarantee a ticket. Ticket holders will receive confirmation.

ANNUAL DINNER AND MOCK TRIAL will take place on Monday, June 20, and begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:00 p.m., and the Trial beginning at 7:30 p.m.

All Dinner and Trial tickets and Trial Only tickets are sold out. To join the waitlist for Dinner and Trial tickets ($395), please e-mail or call 202.547.3230 ext. 2323. To join the waitlist for Trial Only tickets, please call the Box Office at 202.547.1122, Option 1.



The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Bard Association offers lawyers and other individuals with legal ties the opportunity to experience classical theatre at its finest while building both personal and professional relationships. This unique affinity group provides a valuable connection between the legal community and the arts, through networking opportunities, enriching panel discussions and programs, including the popular Mock Trial event. The panel discussions and other events conduct in-depth examinations into the roles of lawyers and legal issues in many Shakespeare plays and other classic theatre pieces.

Membership in the Bard Association transforms the individual experience from occasional ticket buyer to dedicated patron of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Members of the Bard Association enjoy exclusive benefits such as advance ticket purchase for the Mock Trial and Shakespeare and the Law events, “behind-the-scenes” access to the theatre and the chance to create a greater awareness of the importance of the arts. This group is unique to the region and provides a valuable connection between the legal community and the arts world.


FACT SHEET:  Mock Trial 2016

DATE: June 20, 2016

TIME: 6:00 p.m. dinner, 7:30 p.m. Trial

LOCATION: Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW

ACCESSIBILITY: Sidney Harman Hall is accessible to persons with disabilities, offering wheelchair-accessible seating and restrooms, audio enhancement, and Braille and large print programs.

PARKING: The LAZ garage is located directly beneath Sidney Harman Hall; enter from E or F Streets between 6th and 7th Streets. E Street is the recommended entry because of events at the Verizon Center. When entering, follow signs directing you to 620 F Street. Elevators will take you to the Winter Garden lobby next door to Harman Hall on F Street.

METRO: Gallery Pl-Chinatown station on the Red/Green/Yellow lines: Use the Arena/7th Street exit. Sidney Harman Hall is visible one block to your left. Judiciary Square station on the Red line: use the F Street exit to the National Building Museum, turn left and walk 1.5 blocks along F Street to 6th Street.

Box Office: 202.547.1122 (voice) TTY: 202.638.3863 Toll Free: 877.487.8849

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