Finding characters for anonymous jurors

Generic Theatre Company’s production of Reginald Rose’s “Twelve Angry Men” can be characterized by one of the play’s own lines – “Thoughts may be colored by the personalities that have them.”

“Twelve Angry Men” features an ensemble cast of 12 jurors that must determine the fate of a 16-year-old boy who has been charged with the murder of his abusive father. Initially, the verdict seems clear – two witnesses and a switchblade verify the boy’s presence at the scene of the crime, and the majority of the jurors vote “guilty.” However, one strong-willed juror refuses to declare the boy guilty.

Director Kareem Shaban, a junior, believes the cast’s primary strength is the members’ ability to form a sense of brotherhood that is necessary for the success of an ensemble play. The progression of the story relies on the conflict and tension between the jury members.

“The play is about the notion of justice and safeguards in society that we put in place,” Shaban said.

The play takes place exclusively within the jury room, which works well with West Hall’s new black box theater. The space creates an intimate setting that makes the audience members feel a part of the production, or like the “13th juror,” according to freshman David Neiman, who plays Juror No. 12.

Throughout the play, each juror begins to question his or her stance on the case through the reasonable doubts of Juror No. 8, as if each individual juror were on trial to test his or her own personal prejudices and values. The play’s climax lies within the emotional and sometimes violent struggle between the stronger and weaker personalities in the courtroom. It is this struggle that eventually characterizes nameless jurors into distinct people.

Arturo Lichauco, who plays the play’s protagonist, said the jurors created their personalities by creating an actual first and last name for the nameless characters known only to themselves and Shaban.

“We must create what is not shown,” Lichauco said.

Neiman agreed the cast was given a lot of creative freedom to expand on its characters.

The decision to perform “Twelve Angry Men” comes from Generic’s effort to choose scripts that make the audience members question both themselves and what they just saw.

While certain characters stick out as antagonists to Juror No. 8’s “not guilty” stance, it is the characters’ true personalities that are extremely captivating. “Twelve Angry Men” will appeal to the theater connoisseur, but will be especially thought-provoking to lovers of politics and ethics.

“Twelve Angry Men” opens Thursday and runs through Saturday. Admission is $5 at the West Hall Theater. GWorld will be accepted.

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