St. Petersburg College’s Associate Theater Professor Scott Cooper explains his vision for the upcoming production of 12 ANGRY JURORS, set to open Oct. 11.
When I looked for a show to do this fall, I knew I wanted to do something that had a bit of bite to it. It needed to look at the world in a matter of fact way and say something about the climate that we are all facing in the world today.
After reading many plays, I was just about to give up when someone told me to take another look at 12 ANGRY MEN by Reginald Rose. Based on the teleplay from the 1950s, it is a harsh look inside a jury room while the jurors deliberate a death penalty murder trial. It is heated and dramatic, and I have always enjoyed the play. But would it stand up to today’s tough standards of a drama? I read the play and discovered that not only was it about ethics and the law but race issues, humanity, and hope. I thought, “I can do this, and I think students and the community would be interested in what this play has to say.”
Casting, staging changes for 12 ANGRY JURORS
Obviously, we needed to move from 12 ANGRY MEN to 12 ANGRY JURORS and include women in the play so we have moved the action to the mid-1960s. In my opinion, this elevates the play to a different place than just having men discuss these issues.
My other qualm was that it was a classic play, and I wanted the audience to really look at this piece with a fresh eye and differently than the standard proscenium staging that it usually receives. I realized that that was the key to doing this play for me – to change the type of theater and get the audience closer and more involved. So, I am doing the play in an arena staging with the audience sitting on stage with the actors all around them. This highlights the feeling these people are really trapped in this room until they make a decision even more intense for the audience.
With Act 1 staged, this is working out really well. It is a great challenge for the actors to keep moving enough that they don’t ignore the different sides of the audience, and it allows them to have a more intimate relationship with each other, really looking each other in the eye as they argue their side of the case.
It is really a different look at this play – from all sides – literally! With only 70 seats per performance, you might want to get there a bit early to make sure you get a good seat.
Opening in October
SPC Theater’s fall production of 12 ANGRY JURORS will go on despite hurricanes. Opening Oct. 11, 12 ANGRY JURORS runs Oct. 11-14 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 14-15 at 2 p.m. in the Arts Auditorium at the Clearwater Campus.
SPC students, faculty, staff, and high school students free with ID. General admission $10.
For more information, contact Scott Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org.