All the World’s a Stage

All the World’s a Stage


Many people have noted the similarity between the theater stage and the courtroom * For eight years the Faculty has run a theater workshop that illustrates this connection in practical terms * The butterflies in the stomach of a prosecutor or defense attorney as they stand before the judge are very similar to those of an actor about to go out in front of the audience * The participants in the workshop gained two academic credit points – and enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience


The Workshop 
Students who wish to participate in the theater workshop undergo preliminary screening by the workshop leaders, including Bentzi Faber and Shlomit Ben-Menachem. Over the academic year the workshop is led by an academic team and a professional theater team who work in cooperation with one another. On the academic side, the participants develop their critical examination of the legal system of which they themselves will later form part. At the end of a process that includes discussions, practical exercises, and reading rulings and other material, the students formulate their key conclusions from this experience. On the creative side, the participants prepare a production that aims to present their critique at eye level to legal and non-legal spectators alike.


In rehearsal


The work includes an introduction to the world of theater, different theatrical genres, improvisation classes, character work and other experiences. The goal is to connect the average law student with the thespian world. At the end of the process, and under the supervision of the team leaders, the participants write their own dramatic work based on their life experiences and present it to an audience including Faculty students and the general public.


This year’s play was staged on June 4, 2013 at Mazia House of Theater and was based on several scenes from The Crucible (by Arthur Miller). A group of eight actresses created an analogy between witches and criminals, including in terms of societal attitudes, as a basis for a discussion of crime. The group struggled to understand who is a criminal, how crime is created, and whether society is responsible. Shlomit Ben-Menachem, the assistant director, explains: “One of the goals of the workshop is to put yourself in the other’s shoes – a skill that is very important for those in the legal profession: to play the role and to stay in character. We all think that we would never become criminals, but what makes me say that and how can I be so confident? People who turned to crime also never imagined that they would do so,” Shlomit adds.



2013 Theater play

Breaking the Routine
Sapir Efron, 25, is a second-year student who chose to join the workshop in order to add some spice to her academic routine. “I found it difficult to concentrate on my studies all the time, and after the first year I wanted a break from the daily routine of frontal classes,” she explains. Sapir adds that she had not appeared on stage since her sixth-grade graduating party. Nevertheless, she decided to take the plunge and join the workshop. She does not regret her decision: “It’s been a real breath of fresh air for me. It energizes me and puts me in a good mood. There’s a great atmosphere in the workshop and I’ve made some wonderful friends I’m very fond of. I don’t think we would have been so open with each other in any other situation,” she suggests. As well as offering a break from routine, Sapir has also found the workshop useful on the academic front: “We touch in issues that we have studied in various courses in the Faculty. For example, I’m taking a course on manslaughter offenses, and in one class I just sat there and connected almost everything the lecturer was saying with our play.” Sapir summarizes her experience to date in the workshop: “I feel that the workshop has been an eye opener in many ways. It has enriched me and added real value to my week. At the moment we are writing texts and participating in long rehearsal sessions. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it feels a bit much to combine this with all my other assignments, but it’s interesting and challenging. And the final outcome is something unique that comes from ourselves.”



Theater play 2012



Behind the Scenes 
Dr. Anat Horowitz, a Faculty member, has served as the academic instructor for the workshop for the past two years, working alongside Professor Hanina Ben-Menachem, who founded the program. The function of the academic instructor is to present the participants with legal themes, which they then attempt to express in theatrical terms in order to deepen their understanding of the issues. “The instructor does not impose one specific theme on the group, but usually presents the dialogue between theater and law in a general way, and then illustrates it by means of several themes. Through the discussion, each groups sees which themes it finds interesting and where it has something to say,” Horowitz explains. She adds: “I think this is an amazing project that allows for unique learning on many levels. Like any art, the theater has its own language, enabling the expression of ideas and thoughts about law in way that cannot be achieved through the conventional means and tools used in the Faculty.” She also mentions other benefits of the workshop, such as enhancing the students’ ability to appear before an audience, the use of body language, and the ability to enter into another character by playing a role in a play. All these skills are also important for future attorneys.