Thespians Give Twelve Angry Jurors a Contemporary Twist

From November 14th to November 16th, the courtroom came to the stage as the Morris Hills theater department presented this year’s fall play: 12 Angry Jurors. Adapted from the 1957 film 12 Angry Men, the play is a gripping courtroom drama centered around a jury deliberation over the conviction or acquittal of a young defendant on trial for murder. Initially, all but one of the jurors, who remain nameless, vote guilty without any discussion. The one juror who doesn’t, played by Zoe Tweedie, insists on a careful examination of the facts. This leads to an intense debate as the various jurors question the defendant’s background and motives as well as their values and biases.

The original film, 12 Angry Men, is widely considered to be a classic and is highly regarded from both a critical and popular viewpoint. It is especially acclaimed for its thematic representations of justice, judgment, duty, and identity. The Morris Hills production of 12 Angry Jurors did not shy away from these thematic complexities. As Mr. Fahrer wrote in his director’s note, “It is so easy to jump to conclusions about people whether it is due to pressure from others or because it is an easy thing to do … Until we get to know someone, we shouldn’t immediately jump to what the majority thinks.” Through its careful deconstruction of these ideas, the play presents a mirror to the audience, as both the characters and audience are forced to examine their self-image through observing the personalities, experiences, and actions of the jurors. 

 The stage was brought to life by an electrifying cast starring Zoe Tweedie, Danny Dollase, and Alec Ferguson. Effectively performing a play with such a great level of complexity and nuance is no easy task, but the cast stepped up to the challenge with energy and passion. In regards to the intensity required for the performance, junior Alec Ferguson, who played juror number seven, stated, “My favorite part of the play was at the end of act two when Danny Dollase and Zoe Tweedie had a confrontation, and Danny Dollase almost punched Zoe Tweedie. The lights would go out after that scene and the crowd would audibly gasp because of how powerful it was.” Brilliant storytelling and spellbinding performances captured the essence of a slow burn narrative as the audience was pulled through the ebb and flow of the jury’s debate. As junior audience member Dylan Baustisa commented, “I was on the edge of my seat at every moment. The cast did a great job drawing the audience into the story.”

Congratulations to the cast and stage crew on another successful performance. All of your hard work and dedication provided the Morris Hills community with an entertaining and immersive night of theater.