The Blog for Penryn (UK) -based Kernow Youth Society for the Performing Arts. Our society is open to young people aged 9 upwards from the Falmouth and Penryn area. Our aim is to allow members to explore their interest in the performing arts through drama and film activities. KYSPA has a strong citizenship theme with activities aiming to promote self confidence, teamwork and communication skills.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

The Trial of Miss Gunn & Mr Factory

On the evening of the 26th March, KYSPA staged a piece of improvised courtroom drama at Penryn Town Hall. The criminal case centered around former war hero Miss Cordelia Gunn VC, a war hero from a fictional "five year war". During the war, Miss Gunn performed outstanding acts of leadership and bravery. After the war, however, she was honourably discharged from the commandos still being owed quite a bit of money. The loss of all her close family and friends, no money and post traumatic stress led her to a life of homelessness and alcohol dependence.

On the first anniversary of the war's end, despite having made advances with her alcoholism and mental health, Miss Gunn again turned to drink. She stole a car and crashed it at speed on the wrong side of the M5 hitting a minibus full of orphan children on their day out (no-one was seriously hurt).

By chance, the driver of that bus was Mr Factory. The industrial mogul whose factories had supplied the armed forces with all their needs during the war - making him a multi billionaire in the process. What the public had never been told, until now, was that Mr Factory's products were of scandalously poor quality and faulty guns and equipment resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our forces.

Miss Gunn secured the services of a leading MOD lawyer for the case. Rather than pleaing guilty to the charge of "Driving in a manner likely to endanger life" Miss Gunn enters an "Not Guilty" plea. Her defence is that her post traumatic stress was to blame for her actions and that the cause of her illness is none other than Mr Factory himself whose charitable works with orphan children since the war's end cannot absolve him of blame for his actions during the war.

The performance was organised into two "teams" essentially defence (Miss Gunn, Lawyer & witnesses) and prosecution (Mr Factory, Lawyer & Witnesses). Each team prepared questions and statements but didn't meet until the night of the trial. Neither side knew for sure what line of questioning the other side would take. They had just three weeks (approx four hours in total) to prepare for the performance.

To add spice to the occasion, we invited a guest jury with no prior knowledge of the case to listen to arguments and present a verdict at the close of the evening.

The KYSPA actors put on an excellent performance with plenty of atmosphere. When the Jury retired the audience were kept in suspense as they seemed to have trouble reaching a verdict. Eventually, howwever, they filed in and, one at a time, announced unanimously that they felt Miss Gunn was GUILTY. Many jurors took the unusual step of appealing directly to the Judge for a lenient sentence on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The sense of victory for the prosecution team was short-lived. The Judge passed a setence of 150 hours community service and directed the police to investigate Mr Factory for corporate negligence/manslaughter! So, despite failing to prevent a guilty verdict, the defence team succeeded in putting right an injustice whilst the prosecution successfully prevented the defence from moving all of the blame away from Miss Gunn.

Pictures Blelow: Miss Gunn & her lawyer, The Defence team on the night, Mr Factory & his lawyer & the prosecution team on the night.

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