Theatre department performs to a packed house
The CNM theatre department performed their spring production, “Twelve Angry Jurors,” at The Vortex Theater in front of a packed house.
Instructor Susan Erickson directed the play, which is a gender-neutral adaptation of the 1950s play “Twelve Angry Men.” This co-ed version was designed to allow each actor to develop the personality and history of their character, said Erickson.
Front of House Manager Abi Fisher said this version of the play is fantastic because she has never seen it with a woman acting as Juror #3.
“It makes it interesting to play with the gender of the actors. It really surprised me when I first saw it, but I love it,” said Fisher.
Realistic personalities, pet peeves and biases were developed among everyone except Juror #8, played by Joe Damour, a former theatre instructor. Juror #8 was calm the majority of the play, rarely raised his voice and was always understanding of the other characters. The play takes place during jury deliberation of a murder trial where twelve jurors must decide if a young boy is guilty of murdering his father.
The characters must let go of their pride and forget about their biases. They must humble themselves to understand the other jurors’ point of view, and make a fair decision that will affect the rest of the accused’s life.
Juror # 3, played by Cat Hubka, and Juror # 10, played by Amanda Davis, had the most dramatic and angry personalities.
The hatred and irrationality of the characters came off as annoying yet believable. The personalities of the two fit well for the last two jurors who have an over-the-top dramatic breakdown.
The last day of performance the actors had their lines down which made it hard to tell if their hesitations when speaking were a part of the script.
Erickson said she really wanted to do the performance at The Vortex because she wanted the audience to feel completely involved in the action.
“We’ve had such great, attentive audiences. It’s the actors’ show now. They haven’t needed me at all, they are just doing so amazing,” said Erickson.
The intimate architecture of the theater could not have been a better fit for a play based on a group of strangers who are stuck in a room together and have to talk things out.
The audience was sitting on all sides. Every time a juror had a thought by themselves they walked to the edge of the set near the audience to ‘look out a window’ or ‘stand on the edge of the room’ to cool off. Actors were within arms’ reach of the audience, expressing intense energies and emotions in their faces and body language the audience could feel.
Erickson directed the play so that the actors were constantly walking around the table and maneuvering around chairs as if on an obstacle course, especially during heated arguments. The faces of the actors were continuously following the speaker, giving the audience an opportunity to see faces at all times.
Some jurors struggled to overcome personal hurdles like righteousness, prejudice and laziness while others flip-flopped between guilty or not guilty throughout the first act. The first hour flew by, leaving the audience in anticipation during intermission for the 30 minute finale.
President Katherine Winograd attended Sunday’s performance and said she has seen several CNM productions, as well as other plays at The Vortex.
She did not know which of the jurors would have the final breakdown and change their vote but was confident that her vote was not guilty, she said.
“I can’t believe we get to do this wonderful thing at CNM. It’s really terrific. I’m thrilled that people are really attracted to coming and helping our students,” said Winograd.
She was invited by Susan Erickson for this play and is always impressed by how professional and intriguing the actors are, she said.
“The play was very fun to watch. Everyone is really talented. It is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon,” said Winograd.
Former theater student Nephele Jackson was volunteering at the snack booth for The Vortex.
“This production is by far my favorite. This one is very high energy and intense and it demands a lot of each actor,” said Jackson.
“We’re bummed because it’s closing night and they finally get it, then they have to stop,” said Erickson.
The theater department is currently waiting for access to the CNM performance space and the next production from the theater department will not be until the spring of 2013, said Erickson.
The next production hosted by The Vortex will be “Long Day’s Journey into Night” by Eugene O’Neill running March 23 through April 15.