Convicted on a Comma: The Trial of Roger Casement

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We couldn't help but notice that there is a play opening in Melbourne called Convicted on a Comma: The Trial of Roger Casement.

It's the world premiere of a play written, directed and narrated by Brian Gillespie, marking the centenary of Casement's execution on 3 August 1916.

If you're not familiar with Roger Casement he was a British diplomat who was heavily involved in human rights investigations.

According to the play's website: “Casement is a figure who is central to the story of the Dublin Easter Rising, but also a man who strode the world stage as a courageous reforming anti-colonialist. How did a lord of the realm, and a passionate humanitarian and diplomat who changed the course of colonial history, come to be hanged in Pentonville Prison as a traitor? How strong was the case against him? Who defended him? What dark forces mobilised against him?”

But he was convicted on a comma. According to Wikipedia: “At Casement's highly publicised trial for treason, the prosecution had trouble arguing its case. Casement's crimes had been carried out in Germany and the Treason Act 1351 seemed to apply only to activities carried out on English (or, arguably, British) soil. A close reading of the Act allowed for a broader interpretation: the court decided that a comma should be read in the unpunctuated original Norman-French text, crucially altering the sense so that ‘in the realm or elsewhere' referred to where acts were done and not just to where the ‘King's enemies' may be. Afterwards, Casement himself wrote that he was to be ‘hanged on a comma' leading to the well used epigram.”

Location
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Dates and times:
6 August 2016
Sat: 3pm-5pm, 7.30pm-9.30pm

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