Carey Baptist Grammar School, Australia – Jane Penhallurick
TWELVE ANGRY JURORS by Reginald Rose
Cast: 13. The original script is all male, we had 3 boys and 10 girls.
Duration of rehearsal: IB Theatre class time during term 1 (2½ months) and 2 weeks of more intensive rehearsals in term 2.
Process: The students and I worked collaboratively to decide which characters could be changed from male to female after the first read through. This was a really interesting process and sparked sometimes heated debate about stereotypes surrounding masculinity and femininity. We also decided to re-contextualise the play to the mid-1960s to allow for so many female jurors. My love of Mad Men was also an influencing factor! Rehearsals largely occurred during our class times which was occasionally challenging as we were also juggling Research Investigations, discussion of productions we have seen and workshops. The large amount of dialogue proved a challenge to some cast members. Ultimately, the final production was polished and powerful. The stagecraft designs effectively evoked the claustrophobic atmosphere of the jury room and the diversity of the jurors. The performances were compelling, from calm, methodical Juror 8 carefully picking apart the prosecution’s case, to explosive Juror 10’s racist outburst at the end of act 2. Although the audience found moments of humour and levity that we didn’t realise existed, you could cut the tension with a knife as tempers rose and the characters’ “true colours” were revealed.
Most rewarding aspect: Even though this is a wonderful script and story and presents beautifully rich and interesting characters, twelve people sitting around a table talking is inherently un-theatrical.