Penticton Chamber Theatre takes on Twelve Angry Jurors

The Penticton Chamber Theatre will present Twelve Angry Jurors April 30 to May 2 at the Shatford Centre

Most often, movies are made based on plays, but in the case of Twelve Angry Men, it was a TV drama that came first, in 1954, before being rewritten for a 1955 play and the famed 1957 movie.

And while the number of jurors remains the same, the play has evolved over the years.

“You can have it done as Twelve Angry Men, Twelve Angry Women, or you can have Twelve Angry Jurors, with a mix of men and women,” said Liz Lawrence, who is directing the production for Penticton Chamber Theatre.

For this production, which takes place at the Shatford Centre April 30 to May 2, Lawrence said they chose to go with a mixed cast. That’s a decision, she explained, that made for some interesting casting choices.

“I think the bigot, who is No. 10, was the most difficult one to cast as a woman. I don’t think people think of women in those terms, but there are women who are like that,” said Lawrence.

The play brings 12 different characters to a jury room to deliberate whether a teenager from the wrong side of town deserves the death penalty for allegedly stabbing his father.

“Everybody goes into the jury carrying baggage with them and they each have a different viewpoint of the scene and the case,” said Lawrence.

Staging the play also had some difficulties. Lawrence decided to stick to the essentials.

“I decided we are not going to do it on the stage in the auditorium. We are going to get risers and use it as a platform in front of the stage,” she said.

Not only did she not want to give the audience cricks in their necks trying to peer up at the actors seated around a table on stage, Lawrence wanted them to feel closer to the action.

“They should be more involved, they should be closer to the audience,” said Lawrence. “I want them (the audience) to be the silent jury.”

The Penticton Chamber Theatre will present Twelve Angry Jurors April 30 to May 2 at the Shatford Centre, with a performance each evening at 8 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Shatford Centre.