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Review: FanSHEN Justice Syndicate Event

19 February 18 words: Benjamin Knight

I’m going to put my cards on the table; when I got my tickets for FanSHEN’s Justice Syndicate show, from the name I was expecting a superhero-related show. I can’t say I was disappointed though, as what I got was an interactive jury experience. It’s much more interesting than it sounds... 

We’re living in an interesting time; high profile people speaking up about sexual assault has given other survivors the confidence to open up about their own experiences. Before this, many survivors would fear the events that come after reporting assault. The burden of doubt is being lessened for many.

But with such a change in the public consciousness, our own thinking must be challenged alongside it to make room. Justice Syndicate was one such exercise in critical thinking.

A fictional scenario was presented to the guests; a talented and acclaimed neurosurgeon, specialising in a rare and previously incurable cancer in children, has been accused of sexual assault by a patient’s mother.

We then took on the role of a panel of jurors, reading evidence off individual iPads, being shown audio recording and videos of testimonies from involved parties, and undergoing “temperature checks” between segments in the form anonymous votes of whether the jury found the accused guilty.

This resulted in a roller coaster of opinions: it started with a near enough half-and-half split of guilty and not guilty, before hitting a high of 80-20 of guilty/not guilty, and an ending consensus of not guilty.

In discussions after the show, attendants said their overall decision came down to the idea of 91% certainty of guilt, as is usually the case in court judgement. With the burden of proof falling on the prosecutor, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict this imaginary man.

Attendants were also presented with suggestions of a “greater good” concept in the equation; the idea that children will likely die if this man is behind bars, abuser or not. Still, I smashed that mf-ing guilty button every time – he seemed way too smug in his testimonies.

Speaking to the organisers behind Justice Syndicate, I was told that this event was laying the groundwork for a larger series of similar interactive events that aim to nurture a safe space to discuss issues, as well as a scaled-down version to be brought to school environments. Justice Syndicate is interactive, informative and sadly necessary.

The Justice Syndicate is supported by the Near Now Fellowship, Broadway Cinema's studio for arts, design and innovation. Keep those eyes peeled for future events. 

FanSHEN website

Near Now Fellowship website

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