“Twelve Angry Jurors” spotlights social injustice

The theatre season continues at Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Theatre and Dance with a modernized version of “Twelve Angry Jurors.”

Originally written by Reginald Rose as the teleplay “Twelve Angry Men”, the show is about the deliberation inside of a jury room for a young man on trial for killing his father. Throughout the course of the play, the personalities of the jurors are revealed. Harsh prejudices are hurled out as the jurors must come to a decision on the fate of the young man.

Making his directorial debut, Director of Dance Daniel Stark believes this show was important to add to the playbill as it not only gives a unique look into what a jury room looks like, but to also let audiences see how the United States has and hasn’t changed in the ways of social justice.

“Media isn’t allowed in a [jury room], even the guard that’s protecting that room has to sit outside the door, only the jurors can be in that room. It’s such a unique peek inside that kind of conversation that happens all the time in the country,” shared Stark. “It’s almost like a mirror inviting the audience to look at our society and culture in the US and to think how far we’ve come in some ways, but also how we’re struggling in other ways.”

The show touches on a variety of different subjects, ranging from social justice and how prejudices play into a trial. Junior Hunter Conrad, who plays juror four, feels the show is a reality check into what everyday life is like. 

“A show like this doesn’t necessarily prevent [problems going on in the world]. As much as we are trying to have these problems go away, we can only do so much,” said Conrad. 

Due to the heated scenes and difficult topics discussed, Stark made the decision for the cast to refer to each other by their juror numbers instead of their names. Conrad said that the process helps ease the tension of those scenes. 

“It’s tough for us to go into rehearsal and say the stuff we’re saying and act the way we are to our fellow actors and friends, but we’ve had conversations with the director and he’s given us plenty of direction on how to handle situations like this,” shared Conrad. “As tense as it is, we have a good healthy balance of our job, reputation and tension along with the reality.”

Sophomore Lyreshia Ghostlon-Green plays juror eight, a juror who tries to convince the others the young man isn’t guilty through reasonable doubt. Ghostlon-Green sees a lot of herself in juror eight, which has made it difficult to differentiate between herself and the character she plays.

“I had to learn not to take things so personally and know that this isn’t me and that I am playing a character. There are some aspects of my character that I relate to and other aspects that aren’t me at all,” said Ghostlon-Green. “I tap into those [aspects] and I pull from my passion of the topic, but at the end of the day there is a barrier that doesn’t allow me to take things personally.”

Junior William Hallock, who plays juror 10, wants audiences to leave the show questioning if the young adult is guilty, but keeping in mind that he’s still a kid.

“I want them to think about the process throughout the show. That sort of fun idea of the audience going ‘is he actually guilty’ or ‘is he not guilty?’” said Hallock. “This is a kid’s life who is hanging in the balance between 12 different people.”

“Twelve Angry Jurors” runs March 23-26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Andreas Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and children under 16 and $8 for MSU students.

Header Photo: Based on Reginald Rose’s 1954 teleplay “Twelve Angry Men,” Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Theatre Department’s latest production “Twelve Angry Jurors” deals with hard topics such as social injustice as the 12 jurors deliberate if a young man is guilty. (Courtesy Photo)

Write to: Emma Johnson at emma.johnson.5@mnsu.edu

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