Playing with Lawyers
By Kevin Waghorn — August 13, 2012
‘The Lawyer Play’ has been on the Pukeko Design calendar since 2003.
Every year a play is chosen by members of the County of Carleton Law Association (aka lawyers and judges) and they join with the resources of The Great Canadian Theatre Company to create a memorable, professional looking production that raises money for the theatre and a charity partner (in 2012, it was the Lawyers Zambia Project, raising money to build a school in Zambia.) The cast of actors is made up entirely of members of the legal community while the designers and production crew are all professional theatre people.
The play for 2012 was His Girl Friday – a fabulous play set in a 1939 Chicago pressroom.
One of the great things about “the Lawyer Play” is seeing distinguished lawyers and judges out of their element and going through the slog of a rehearsal process. They have to commit to things that may seem less dignified or a little below the protocol than what they are used to. With His Girl Friday, this issue surfaced when it became obvious that there were more female cast members than there were roles (not unusal in non-professional theatre) and the only way to really deal with it was cross dressing. The question was, would the ladies go for it? Well, the challenge of dressing five females as males was fully embraced! We added beer bellies and moustaches as well as entertaining wigs to the ladies to aid in their transformation. They did their part by studying male posture and replicating it very well!
The rest of the job on this project called for set and props design. While the actors may not be pros, their commitment to the project is, so there is no letting up with the other design work. The set called for a lot of furniture and telephones. We were able to find a fantastic wooden filing cabinet, period rolling desk chairs and the perfect vintage garbage can. It really comes down to the details and sticking to your instincts to create an authentic look.
We had lot of fun with set dressing finding a vintage calendar, period phone book and some fabulous Underwood typewriters that probably were used by journalists in the 1940’s!
Twenty two lawyers, along with ten cameo performances by local politicians and city officials, made this year’s Lawyer Play a huge success and as much fun as always.