NRT’s “Twelve Angry Jurors” Deliberates In Forum
Everyone’s guilty of passing judgement on a stranger. Someone cuts the line at Starbucks and we suddenly assume they were raised wrong. Usually we don’t think of the consequences of these instances of bias as fatal, but in No Refund Theatre’s latest production of Reginald Rose’s “Twelve Angry Jurors,” the decision of 12 flawed individuals will determine whether or not a teenage boy accused of killing his father will live or die.
The twelve jurors all pass judgment on the young boy for different reasons. Whether it be because of his race, questionable honesty, or troublesome upbringing, each juror finds a reason to find a guilty verdict. The only exception is juror number eight (Paul Basher,) who urges the group to consider the situation objectively.
“Everyone brings in their personal bias, their own emotions, their own feelings, and they let their bias tell them this boy is guilty. Juror eight is kind of like the all seeing eye, he sees that there is much more to this case than bias and prejudice, if you look at the facts, there’s a reasonable doubt that this boy is not guilty,” Basher said.
One of these dangerously ignorant and emotionally invested jurors, juror three (TJ Washington,) serves as an antagonist to juror eight. And unlike the other jurors, he makes a personal connection with the boy standing trial.
“All of us have different motivations, for me, my character, he associates this boy with his son and he has such a bad relationship with his son that he thinks every kid is like him. So he has no doubt in his mind that this kid did this to his father. He’s more motivated than everyone else because this is personal to him.” Washington said.
The jurors continuously attempt to organize the facts of the case, and as each point of information proves arguable for a not guilty verdict, the bias of each juror unravels as it highlights the racist, or prejudice reason behind their predisposition. Director Connor Davis was very conscious of this dialogical reveal, and worked hard with juror eight and juror three to regulate the tension of the deliberation room.
“Lots of different things in your life can lead you to believe certain things about people, whether it be bigotry, or potentially misguided belief, facts or statistics, or in TJ’s character’s case your own personal history. We form our opinions as we go on in life based on what we experience, but that can lead you to be a bit closed minded to new people,” Davis said.
One challenge Davis had with the show was getting all of his actors in the same room at once. With such a large cast, it was difficult to get all actors on the same energy level, and ensure that conversational participation was effective. Davis’ approach to work on the relationship between juror eight and three paid off, as they serve as the “yin” and “yang” of the cast and helped control the dialogue.
“I want people to really take a step back and put a bit more thought into their judgments of other people. You don’t have to carry around this baggage of predispositions,” Davis said.
“Twelve Angry Jurors,” is showing from Sept. 22 to the 24 in 111 forum at 9 p.m. Admission is free. Here are some shots from the show: