Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Speak the Speech Pt. 4

In my last post, I digressed into a discussion of Method Acting. Interesting, the next part of Hamlet’s speech to the players expressly presages the “modern” style of acting that now call “The Method”:
Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
word to the action; with this special o'erstep not
the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
the time his form and pressure.

According to Hamlet, holding a “mirror up to nature” requires striking just the right balance between passion and restraint and aligning speech and physicality. This advice is also spot on when it comes to oral advocacy. Because, even though oral argument is a fundamentally unnatural ritual—such that an upstanding professional is confined behind a podium meant to diminish the speaker as he or she addresses an audience poised to interrupt at will—a successful performance is one that seems “natural” despite the bizarre circumstances.
And what, according to Hamlet, is the ultimate goal of acting? Of portraying human dramas in a theatrical setting?
“[T]o show … the very age and body of the time [its] form and pressure.”
That is, the unnatural reveals fundamental truth, the real form.

The ultimate objectives of the artificially natural-seeming exercise of oral argument are equally ambitious: that advocates may sieze this last-ditch effort to guide the audience/the bench to some deep truth, induce them to use their power to effect legitimate justice, compel them to grant relief in one petty case because that result will lead to a better world more broadly speaking. Or, at the very least, oral argument is a theatrical exercise that shows just how vital the rule of law is at any given moment and how true we are to our better nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment