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Some plays are entertaining and others are meant to inspire. Hardin County Playhouse hopes to do both with a production of “12 Angry Jurors.”
The play takes place in one location: the jury room. The jury’s task is to decide the guilt or innocence of a murder suspect. During the voting, one man decides jurors need to look closer at evidence, which propels heated discussions and evidential theory throughout the rest of the play.
Strong opinions, anger, racial and societal prejudice and, in some cases, apathy come out as jurors discuss the case.
While the original film was produced 60 years ago, the only change made to this production is modernizing the jury by adding women.
The cast explored the importance of the play as an illustration of civic responsibility.
As a social studies teacher, actor Tracy Arflin said the citizenship aspect of the play illustrates the right to be tried by peers and the responsibility of a citizen to be a part of the process and not to avoid jury duty.
One juror in the play is from another country and illustrates this point more because he comes at the American judicial process with fresh eyes, he said.
Mike Waters, who plays the juror from another country, said he can relate to his character because when he served on a jury in August of last year, he wanted to take his duty as a citizen seriously.
His character has seen injustice in his home country and wants to make sure justice is served in this case.
Because the jurors have no names, Waters had the freedom to explore his character’s home country and develop an accent.
While not all the actors have served on an actual jury, they can see how a debate in the jury room could become heated, but might not be as dramatic.
With 24-hour coverage of court cases, news has become entertainment, director Bo Cecil said. Because of this, many think innocence is boring and guilt is more interesting, he said.
This mentality often can confuse the task of a jury. The play brings out the reality of the burden of proof and civic responsibility.
“A lot of people don’t understand the burden of proof is on the prosecution and not the defendant,” actor Josh Logsdon said. “From the overexposure of cases in the media, we think we can tell someone’s guilt or innocence immediately.”
Participating in the production has given Logsdon a new respect for the judicial system.
Cast members said the play is about conflict and jurors interacting with one another while dealing with each personality to come to a consensus, which translates to other situations in life.
Because all the action takes place around a table on the floor in front of the stage, the audience is close to what’s going on in the play, almost like a 13th juror, Cecil said.
“It brings the audience into our world,” Kristian Parrish said.
The cast hopes the play makes audience members think and that they’ll leave as better citizens.
HCP’s production of “12 Angry Jurors” is at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. April 11-13 and 3 p.m. April 14 at Plum Alley Theater in the Historic State Theater Complex in Elizabethtown.
Tickets are $15 and $13 for students, military, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For more information, call (270) 351-0577.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or email@example.com.
'12 Angry Jurors' cast list
Juror 1 Tabitha Douglas
Juror 2 Jennifer Barry
Juror 3 Josh Logsdon
Juror 4 Tracy Arflin
Juror 5 Shameca Freeman
Juror 6 Kristian Parrish
Juror 7 Scott West
Juror 8 George Paschetto
Juror 9 Ernest Holt II
Juror 10 Howard Yates
Juror 11 Mike Waters
Juror 12 Jorge Lopez
Guard Zach Broome
Directed by Bo Cecil