The Trial of Aaron Swartz 2020

                You Decide 

The play outline and treatment


Prior to opening curtain the audience members get a copy on the indictment against AS. It summarizes the charges against him. Additionally they get an audience participation tool to indicate their choice, verdict.


The set:

Throughout the play there is a screen with twitter like comments that provide an interactive moderated forum for the audience. Additionally, the results of the trail are displayed.


Opening scene: 

AS Hanging in the middle of the stage, GF crying takes him down and puts him on the couch in their Living room (Brooklyn apt). Music in back round is Leonard Cohen’s the game is rigged. Leonard Cohen , “ Everybody knows” Old Devils are at it again Willian Elliot Whitemore


Act one: Apartments in Boston and Brooklyn, the year 2012-3. The two rooms are decorated to reflect the different status of Aaron Swartz and Steve Hyman. The scenes of the first act alternate between the two rooms. In each room there are sofas and comfortable chairs.


In the Brooklyn apartment the conversation is between AS and his GF. It is centered on the trial and doing the public good. The dialogue is built on content from the talk presented at AS memorial and other publically available information.  


Additionally there is the input from AS father related to more of the technical issues and the role of MIT and other organizations in the prosecution.


In the Boston apartment the conversation is between SH and his wife addressing the larger issues of his work as a prosecutor. (May consider having Carmen Ortiz the Federal Attorney in discussion with SH about the case).


Additionally there is the input from SH’s father related to the challenge of balancing Individual rights with government power. 


Act two: Federal Court, Boston Mass. Judge Nathanial Gorton presiding.  

Starts with the judge reading the charges to be litigated during the trial.

1.      Aaron Swartz, public enemy for “stealing” intellectual property threatening the rule of law.

2.      Steven Hyman, for prosecutorial overreach.

3.      The legal/ political system, for laws that are vague and make us all criminals.


The “defendants” AS and SH take the witness stand and are subjected to examination and cross examination by AS and SH fathers. The questions to the witnesses address the tension that the public debate has highlighted.

The proceeding reflect the articles and comments about the case as well as;

1. statements from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure exploring justice and prosecutorial discretion

2. Statements from Madison and Jefferson about information and knowledge


At the end of the trial the audience votes on each of the three charges.