23 November, 2023

A new play: "Murder in the Citizens' Jury"

This month a thought-provoking play, "Murder in the Citizens' Jury" premiered at The University of Southampton and Sortition Foundation’s Digital Campaigner Alastair Binnie-Lubbock attended to view the piece and contribute to a lively Q&A after the performance.

Alastair reflected on the reading: “It's clear that the production accomplished its goal of engaging audiences in a unique blend of drama and civic awareness. The fusion of drama and education served as a powerful tool to raise awareness about citizens' assemblies. The performance was incredibly engaging and the narrative skilfully wove together issues of personal sacrifice, moral dilemmas, and the urgent need for collective action in the face of a climate crisis.”

The dramatic reading was performed by the multi-award-winning actor Jack Klaff (known for his roles in Star Wars and more), and delved into an ethical quandary faced by the Director of Public Prosecutions. This central figure has to grapple with the decision to prosecute a murder that, if pursued, would not only jeopardize his family but also potentially undermine citizens' assemblies – a form of direct democracy the play argued is crucial for addressing the looming climate crisis.

Jack Klaff performing Murder in the Citizens' Jury

Alastair added “It was great how the organisers allowed the audience to participate in the play by posing questions that could be voted on via our mobile phones, this really helped us put ourselves into the shoes of the protagonist and feel the weight of the decisions being made.”

One of the strengths of the play was its ability to catalyse discussion and reflection. The subsequent Q&A session provided an invaluable platform for attendees, whether present in person at the University of Southampton or virtually through the live stream, to explore the intricacies of citizens' assemblies and the ethical considerations surrounding climate-related decision-making.

The questions raised during the Q&A were as diverse as the audience itself. The play prompted contemplation on complex issues, such as the morality of breaking the law for the greater good and redefining justice when the victim is not an individual but a potentially catastrophic event affecting a large percentage of the population.

The assembled audience, in person and online, asked many questions of the play’s author DA Baden and of Alastair, especially in relation to the institutionalisation of permanent citizens’ assemblies and Sortition Foundation’s campaign to create a House of Citizens to replace the House of Lords. These ranged from the practical implementation of a House of Citizens to the history of the idea of sortition.

Looking ahead, it's exciting to note that another performance is scheduled for the 25th of April 2024, ensuring that more people have the opportunity to experience this impactful production. To stay informed about future events from the organisers register at www.greenstories.org.uk/ and follow the organization on Twitter (X), Instagram and Facebook.

"Murder in the Citizens' Jury" not only succeeded as a theatrical experience but also left a lasting impression by sparking conversations about the intersection of ethics, civic duty, and the urgent need for collective action in the face of climate change. It speaks to the power of art to inspire reflection and dialogue on critical issues that shape our collective future.

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