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Setting the Stage: The Theater of Court

For many attorneys, the intensity of the court room can add an extra stress factor to an already overwhelming profession. How each person handles the burdens of work is unique to them, but for Robert Beard of Vanderpool, Frostick, & Nishanian, it comes by way of a unique transformation: from lawyer to thespian.

Robert Beard begins his days in court, fighting on behalf of children in abusive environments. For Robert, the tensions that accumulate in court seem to melt away under the bright lights of the stage, where he feels as though he is being reset for the next day’s work.

As a young theater major in North Carolina, Robert was studying how to perform under pressure. It was then that he found himself in a courtroom at the suggestion of one of his professors, witnessing attorneys working under pressure like he’d never seen before. As the day went on, Robert began to see intriguing similarities between the stage and the courtroom. The attorneys demanded the attention of the jury, rather like an actor garners the rapt attention of an audience.

“I was so fascinated by the whole thing, that after I got out of the army, I began the pursuit of law”, says Beard.

After years of focusing on his legal career, Robert recently reconnected with his love of theater. He has performed in six productions over the past few years, and recently filled the role of Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady, at the Riverside Center Theater in Fredericksburg. With his feet planted firmly back on the stage, Robert feels that his evenings spent entertaining give him a renewed fervor for his day job.

Patrick A’Hearn, the Producing Artistic Director of the Riverside Center Theater, who has worked with Robert in several productions stated, “Bob is just a consistent pro. He has this great command to his voice, which is something he needs for both stage and court. He understands how to use words to appeal to the emotion of the audience—and he uses that skill with the court, too.”

As Robert considers how his “hobby” has impacted his work, he states that, “refocusing on something creative is helpful, it gives me more energy.” He goes on to say that, “…something we talk about in the theater is concentration; you have to be intensely focused on what you’re doing on stage, and for me, that translates back to the courtroom.”

“I love doing live performances, I always have. What I loved about the theater, I put to work in the courtroom. I think more lawyers should think about getting up on the stage.”

*Photo Courtesey of the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts