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'Tis nobler in the mind to plead insanity

Hamlet.jpgTonight, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will preside over a very important issue. One debated by many a scholar, student, and, um… Cliffs Notes editor, aaaaand… all right, it’s not that pervasive of a question, but:

Was Hamlet barmy? Cuckoo? Bonkers? Mental? Insane in the membrane?

As part of the Shakespeare in Washington (D.C.) festival (January-June) the Kennedy Center is hosting a debate on just that issue, and the audience gets to decide. Lawyers (including Court TV anchor Catherine Crier) will argue whether the prince of Denmark is mentally fit to stand trial for the murder of Polonius. Anthony Kennedy will be the judge. Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, will host.

This is just one in a series of Shakespeare's plays adapted for a mock trial in D.C. since 1994, when Kennedy sat in on the same trial.

The insanity defense didn’t work.

The Supreme Court Hears the Trial of Hamlet

Poster of Edwin Booth (yes, brother of John Wilkes) as Hamlet from the Library of Congress

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