BY MATT HUTCHINS
The crucible that is Harvard Law School has the power to forge minds or twist them. In addition to red Aspen casebooks, backpacks around campus carry spiral notebooks filled with the absurd and diabolical ramblings of those geniuses whose powers have been corrupted by the madness of legal education. Among these madmen are the members of the Harvard Law School Drama Society who write a strange story each year to shock and entertain us with our own absurdity. This year, the edifices of HLS have been recast as a shadowy Gotham in the Drama Society’s The Hark Knight. From September until the end of January, the Drama Society’s writers worked to cobble together the bizarre and extraordinary happenings from law school life into a quilt of pop-culture references and inside jokes. This year, with the departure of Dean Elena Kagan ’86 and several professors, the writers had plenty of material, resulting in such musical numbers such as “Farewell My Dean” (to the tune of “Come on Eileen”) and “O-C-I” (N-Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye”).
When casting began in January, students were put into the roles of professors, Supreme Court Justices, HLS administrators, and other fictional and familiar characters. As the cast rehearsed their lines and musical numbers, costumes were assembled, programs printed, and a hundred other tasks executed on a tight schedule. Finally, with opening night just around the corner, the set was built, lighting and sound equipment is installed, and the Ropes-Gray room transformed into a theater for one week.
First time producer Kevin Daly ’09 admits, “The learning curve is pretty steep. There are a lot of hidden aspects of the production that I had to master very quickly.” To fill in the gaps, Kevin relied on the expertise of co-producer Kees Vandenberg ’09. Kees worked alongside Andrew Ain ’08 last year to produce Harry ‘Issue’ Spotter and the Goblet of Breyer. Kevin and Kees both had to take on a wide range of responsibilities to ensure that the production would be a success. In addition to their roles as producers, Kevin is trumpeter and band leader for the ‘Kalahari Pretzel Operation’ 7-piece ensemble, and Kees worked as a writer and will perform in several roles including Thomas Arraign and Larry Tribe. The members of the cast and crew have to balance their many responsibilities to the parody with a full plate of other commitments on top of school. many other responsibilities around campus.Choreographer and actress Olivia Jennings ’09 is the managing editor of the Journal on Legislation, and according to Kees, there are at least three members of the Legal Aid Bureau and eleven 1L’s participating this year.
Despite the ego-mongering of many HLS students, Kees and Kevin insist that the production of the parody is a collaborative endeavor free of prima donnas. Kevin says, “With so many roles, everyone can shine. Multi-talented individuals can show off singing and dancing, and so can people like great actors who have a particular strength.” The schedule for rehearsals is intense, more so this year because of a timetable that is one week shorter than last year. Nonetheless, the producers are confident that all the elements of the show successfully came together during the last week of rehearsals. The final challenge before opening night, the construction of the set, came off without a hitch, according to set director Matt Shinners ’09. He notes that even though there were several complicated elements to construct, “It wasn’t nearly as difficult as the one for ‘Noises Off.'” The Drama Society’s fall production required the construction of a massive two-story set in the Ropes-Gray room over just a few days. With the set in place, the lights hung, the sound system connected, and actors ready, the Drama Society is prepared for audiences to come and enjoy the latest incarnation of an irreverent HLS tradition.
The Hark Knight runs until Saturday, March 7th. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door.