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Audience Talk Back with ’12 Angry Jurors’ and one director

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Sunday night’s performance of “12 Angry Jurors” added a little interactivity to it’s already immersive experience by hosting an audience talk back with the director and cast in the Campus Theatre.

Audience members were seated in stadium like risers onstage, creating an arena-like effect, for the battle soon to take place. Less than three feet away from the seats, in the middle of the stage, was a long wooden table surrounded by 12 chairs that transport viewers to the Bronx Burough Courthouse in July of 1964.

“The jurors are sitting in judgement of the kid on trial,” Director Scott Alan Smith said, “I wanted you to be in judgement of the jurors and when you’re sitting right across from somebody you can’t disengage.”

Smith’s unique twist on the 1957 film “12 Angry Men” starring Henry Fonda featured an all-male and a predominately Caucasian cast, whereas Smith’s cast is significantly more diverse with six female jurors and six male jurors all different ethnicities from Caucasian, African-American, Asian and Latino.

“I don’t know if this play has been done quite so racially diverse and I think that might be what’s so unique to this production along with the fact that we’re doing it around (the stage),” Smith said.

The story is about 12 jurors deliberating over the fate of a young man arrested for the alleged murder of his father. Despite the original film being 60 years old, the subject matter is still relevant today.

The cast faced a variety of challenges during their performance. These ranged from learning how not to be distracted by the visual and audible reactions from the audience that is wrapped around them, to even creating a backstory for their counterpart in order to bring the character to life.

“Developing the backstory, developing the reasons why I felt so strongly about what I was angry about and displaying the passion and his unyielding stance were probably like the most difficult,” said Kreli Washington, who is in his fifth theatre show at EC and who played Juror No. 3.

The lead role of the play is Juror No. 8, famously played by the late Henry Fonda, was portrayed Brandon Daryll, who is in his fifth theatre production at EC.

“In the original Juror No. 8 is a Caucasian man and playing as a Hispanic man, I had to bring that element to it,” Brandon Daryll said. “I know (what) he’s been through, I know what that can be like growing up in that kind of environment.”

In addition to the seating and being in close proximity to the actors, Director Smith and Sound Designer Dave Marling added an environmental sounds, such as a ticking clock, children playing, ice cream truck music and even people on the streets talking, that enhanced the experience.

“We wanted to give you an kind of immersive experience, so that you knew there was a world outside that window, which their only sorta window to freedom,” Smith said.

The remaining dates are Nov. 9, Nov. 10, and Nov. 11 with the final performance on Nov. 12, in the Campus Theatre. More information can be found at www.centerforthearts.org.

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Audience Talk Back with ’12 Angry Jurors’ and one director