Most law students can draft memorandums, analyze cases, and even walk, talk, and chew gum (all at the same time). At Osgoode Hall Law School, they can do even more. Mock Trial, a longstanding tradition of the school, showcases the numerous and diverse talents of both students and faculty.
The show has been running annually for decades and consists of a collection of short skits all related to one greater encompassing theme. My two years as an Osgoode student have been largely shaped by my attempts at acting and dancing in the show.
The Mock Trial cast consists of actors, dancers, singers, as well as a full band with a horn section, drums, keyboards, guitarists, and bass players. Many students transcend the different categories and do a little bit of everything. As important as everyone on stage is, even more essential to the success of the show are the writers, directors, stage directors, light and sound technicians, choreographers, as well as producers and treasurer. As one of Osgoode’s many claims to fame and with all of the proceeds going to charity, we shoot for the stars and work together for a Broadway-calibre performance (or so we like to think).
The process begins early in the year with a call for writers. One of the things that really makes Mock Trial spectacular is the quality of the material that pours in. The skits illustrate the self-deprecating sense of humor shared by the Osgoode community. Last year a major focus was the ongoing construction at our campus. The Osgoode building was essentially out of commission and students were distributed to the far-reaching corners of the York University campus. Forced to mingle with whom Ozzies have fondly termed SNAILS (students not actually in law school), there was more than enough material for a hilarious show. Since our beautiful new building opened in September 2011, we had to find a new comedic focus for the 2012 production.
This year, Mock Trial writers honed in on the sad reality of the B curve. The way the grading curve operates, only five per cent of every class is able to attain a grade of A+. The obvious parallels to the Occupy Wall Street “one per cent” credo provided an instant recipe for comedy gold. Other skits involved Dracula making a will, professors playing Jeopardy!, and even a surprise appearance by Harry Potter himself. Undoubtedly, my favourite skit year after year is the traditional Osgoode man dance. There’s nothing this nerdy law student loves more than watching other nerdy law students shake it on stage.
Once all of the writing has been collected and edited, the auditions begin. An executive committee headed by the producers with members from vocals, dance, and instrumentals come together to assemble an all-star cast. With my uncanny ability to imitate Sarah Palin, I was a shoo-in! To prepare for the show, rehearsals increase in intensity during the first several weeks of the winter semester. My level of involvement required me to attend an average of five hours of rehearsal every week, a fairly low level compared to many other cast members.
The weekend before the show the entire cast devotes 12-hour days in order to ensure it is as close to perfect as possible. Although this can be a burden and stressful for everyone involved, there is a strange enjoyment in being able to run around the school in your pyjama pants at 12 a.m. on a Saturday (if my professors are reading this: I’m just kidding of course).
The main reason I continue to be involved in the production and encourage others to do the same is the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration among the entire cast. Because of the way law school is structured, it is not always easy to meet upper-year students. Mock Trial demands discipline and hard work, but it attracts students from all years who love to laugh and don’t take themselves too seriously. This fun bunch makes the experience warm and absolutely worthwhile. Additionally, the broader sense of community shared by all Osgoode students pushes the cast to work even harder. Our ultimate goal is to bring smiles to the faces of our friends and teachers.
Coming to the tail end of my second year, I cannot believe how fast my time at Osgoode is flying by. It seems just yesterday that I was walking towards the building for the first time, terrified for my life. It is experiences like Mock Trial that stand out amongst the blur of readings and exam anxiety. The friends that I have been privileged to work with during the show (this year and last) have helped me to build memories that I will cherish always when I look back on law school for years to come.