Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Habeas Corpus: The History

You may have seen the title of the latest Apollo Players’ show and wondered, ‘What does it mean?’

Habeas Corpus is a Latin phrase which literally means: ‘You may have the body’.

It is normally a legal term, going back to the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 which itself only made legal what was already a known procedure by which the length of time the police or courts could hold a prisoner without trial may be challenged.

The writ of Habeas Corpus, on which the act was based, goes back to at least the 12th century and was guaranteed in the Magna Carta of 1215, famously signed by King John at Runnymede.

So that’s your history lesson for the day.


Typically, Alan Bennett has taken a formal Latin legal phrase and bent it to his will, for in the play, the message ‘You may have the body’ refers not to anyone being imprisoned against their will, nor any crime being committed, but to the various characters’ plotting to ‘have the body’ of their choice – in a very different context!

Our hilarious, entertaining production is about as far away as it is possible to get from a stuffy courtroom drama – come along and see it at The Apollo Theatre from 2 September.

Tickets and further information available at: http://www.apollo-theatre.org.uk/habeas-corpus/

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