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Dorothy to take the stand as Wamego preps for OztoberFest

By Kristina Jackson

WAMEGO — Court will come to order in Oz. Dorothy Gale will have to answer for her alleged crimes at OztoberFest on Saturday.

The K-State Mock Trial Club has changed its usual format for the festival, staging a fundraiser at which the audience will be the jury as Dorothy is “tried” for theft and murder.

Dorothy faces her day in court at the Columbian Theatre, 521 Lincoln Avenue, in Wamego.

The prosecution will present its case at 11 a.m., the defense will answer at 1 p.m. and a verdict delivered at 3.

“Usually our witnesses are not quite as fun,” said Haley Claxton, secretary of the Mock Trial Club.

The fictional Dorothy is accused of stealing the ruby slippers and killing the Wicked Witch of the West.

During the course of the trial, prosecutors will question one of the witch’s flying monkeys, a muchkin who saw Dorothy arrive in Oz and the Wizard himself – who will testify against Dorothy as part of his plea bargain to avoid being charged as a co-conspirator.

The defense, in addition to calling Dorothy to testify on her own behalf, will put the scarecrow and Glinda the Good Witch on the stand.

Claxton, who will play Glinda at the trial, said arguments will focus on whether Dorothy knew water would kill the witch, and whether she purposefully stole the slippers or Glinda gave them to her.

Charging Dorothy with crimes in Oz began as an idea for a fundraiser to help the group send teams to mock trial competitions.

“OztoberFest is when we’re all back to school, and we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to take part in something different,” Claxton said.

The fundraising element of the event comes with the verdict.

Audience members will be asked to donate money to the side they believe presented the more convincing case, and the side that raises more money wins the case. Putting a famous fictional character on trial at a festival is obviously a departure from the club’s normal routine.

Members usually handle cases provided by a national organization, and the team then bases arguments on documents and facts available to them.

The “Oz trial” clearly allows for a bit more creativity.

“We’re dealing with fictional characters that people have preconceived ideas about,” said club vice president Josh Wilson, who will also be playing the scarecrow.

“We came up with ways to make them interesting or to contradict those ideas.”

Wilson said they had more control than they do with competition cases. Club members wrote their own script for this event.

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