Strolling into the theatre for the production of Twelve Angry Jurors, students and families have the opportunity to be courted right up to the stage.
Granite Bay High School’s student-directed play is designed as a black box theater, allowing the audience to hover right over the actors and witness the performance up close.
Originally written by playwright Reginald Rose as Twelve Angry Men, the adapted production centers around a 19-year-old boy who is tried for the murder of his father. While eleven of the twelve jurors accuse the boy of the crime, one stands firm in arguing there is no evidence against him.
“The whole show is a sort of psychological analysis,” student- director Cameron Erickson said.
In addition to Erickson, seniors, Taylor Wilson and Alee Yap are coordinating the play. This includes budgeting, organizing costume design, directing the actors, amongst other tasks.
Unlike some of the GBHS theatre’s past productions, Twelve Angry Men features little comedy. Instead, the play places a heavy emphasis on powerful dialogue.
“It’s a very different appreciation,” said senior Madeline Clark, who is playing juror number four, “and I think you definitely have to be a little older to appreciate it. I think any of the high school students that came would be fine with it.”
None of the twelve jurors are named in the play. To differentiate them, each juror is given a distinct identity. While many of the jurors develop strong and forthright opinions, Clark’s character helps to ease the tension.
“(Juror number four) is a wealthy business woman, and she’s very successful,” Clark said. “She’s very logical and she (doesn’t vote) based on her emotions.”
Because of the black box design, which openly exposes all the actors at once, the audience can inspect any character at any point in time. There are also very few scene changes, which normally allow the actors to hide behind the curtain separating them from their audience and prepare for their upcoming parts. This challenges the performers to remain in character all throughout the play.
Junior Anika Maney, who is acting as juror number two, said the roles are often given to people who either have a personality that resembles the character they are playing or have past experience in playing similar roles.
“The actors bring so much of themselves into it,” Maney said. “Everyone in the cast does a phenomenal job at portraying their characters.”
Performing in the play requires a large commitment of time. Not only do the directors invest time into the coordination of the play, but the actors also make room in their schedules in order to ensure the overall fluidity of the production.
“We’ve been rehearsing about four days a week after school for the past two months,” said junior Sophie Brubaker, who is playing the foreman. “We all spend time out of school memorizing our lines and developing our characters.”
At the end of the practice, the participants are finally able to watch as the result plays out. According to Clark, although there is still nervous energy prior to each performance, it is more so a result of excitement than of stage fright. Everyone, including the directors, seems to become affected by it.
“Being the director, I’ve seen the cast do this show countless times,” Erickson said, “yet I still get goosebumps. This show is, needless to say, intense and personal.”
While this play centers around a jury, the script’s underlying themes pertain to everybody.
The range of backgrounds and personalities amongst the 12 jurors demonstrates the differing perceptions of the situation.
“The play … encourages people to look at situations in life from multiple perspectives before making absolute decisions,” Brubaker said.
Twelve Angry Jurors is showing in the GBHS theatre on February 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13.
Tickets can be purchased online at theatreatgranitebay.org or at the theatre on the day of the event.
“I hope everyone who comes to see it,” Brubaker said, “will love it as much as I do.”
Published on Friday, February 5, 2016