This dissertation studies legal practice and representation from the perspective of Theatre- and Performance Studies. It aims to describe and analyse the theatrical, ritualistic and spatial aspects of law, its practices, representations and buildings. More specifically, the dissertation explores the trial as a performance.

Cultural as well as artistic performances are explicitly structured. Trials, theatre performances, religious rituals, military parades and political demonstrations all raise a boundary that shuts out what is not part of the performance ("life", "the everyday"). Performances also depend on and create an inner order; they structure the social and material space and produce roles and hierarchies among the participants. The dissertation analyses the ways in which the trial in the lower level court in Sweden produces and maintains these outer and inner boundaries. How does law and legal practice produce frames, boundaries and spaces? How, when and as what does law appear? And what is made to appear in front of or under the law? By approaching the legal practice with a theatrical and performative terminology, the trial comes forth as more than a legal process; it appears as a performative, cultural and social event. The study focuses on the courtroom as a space where power is exercised and produced. It is not only the legal power of the judgment that is exercised, but also other forms of power. The court creates, communicates and sustains its authority in the courtroom by using performative, theatrical and ritual techniques of power. In making these different kinds of power techniques visible, the dissertation exemplifies the strength of a performance perspective. By using a terminology and a way of thinking from the study of performing arts, new knowledge of the trial as a performance is produced.