It all adds up to a compelling theatre production that will take a timely look at racism, classism and sexism in America.
Theatre instructor Ruff Yeager is revisiting the 1954 classic about a young man accused of murdering his father. What first looks like a clear-cut guilty turns personal and convoluted, as jurors head toward the jury room and begin allowing their biases to influence the verdict.
This gripping drama gives a glimpse into a troubled era in American history.
Dealing with issues that penetrated and shook the psyche of the 1950s, “12 Angry Jurors” explores major issues like racism, marginalization, bigotry and the American justice system, issues which Yeager said make this play especially relevant.
“I think given the recent headlines concerning the shooting of Michael Brown and its aftermath, it is important that we continue to discuss the plight of people of color,” he said. “Young people create change. I hope this play spurs our student body onto wanting to take an active role in social justice.”
“12 Angry Men” was first cast with an all-male, all-white jury. Over time the original dynamic changed, Yeager said.
“What is going to be exciting about our production is that we are going to have a multiracial cast,” he said.
SWC’s “12 Angry Jurors” will also feature women.
“I am interested in seeing how gender influences the interpretation of the text,” Yeager said.
Running for nine performances, two different casts will perform on three separate occasions as “12 Angry Women,” “12 Angry Men” and “12 Angry Jurors.”
These variations of the play have been done before, but never at the same time, Yeager said.
“It is going to be exciting to see if our conceptions of traditional gender roles will play out on stage,” he said. “As a theatre artist, I am very interested in exploring that.”
Yeager said he has a strong ensemble.
“I am so excited for the campus to see these two fantastic and wonderfully dynamic casts.”
“12 Angry Jurors” runs March 18 – 29 at Mayan Hall. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. March 18 – 28 and 2 p.m. March 29.