‘12 Angry Jurors’ a dramatic, actor-driven show for PdC Drama Hawks

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By Correne Martin

The Prairie du Chien Drama Hawks spring play, “12 Angry Jurors,” is anticipated to be a serious, actor-driven and theatrical production challenging the moxie of the student actors substantially. It will give local audiences a chance to see the caliber of talent the high school drama department is turning out. 

Scheduled April 12 and 13, in the new performing arts center theater, with performances at 7 p.m. both nights and a 1 p.m. matinee Saturday only, “12 Angry Jurors” is a gritty courtroom drama with a 1950s feel in all aspects, from the costuming to the way the actors speak their lines. 

“We’re actually going to the courthouse and filming the opening scene there,” said Director Dale Hanson. “The judge (Lynn Rider) will make a cameo. A couple of high school boys are doing the filming.”

In this melding of “12 Angry Men” by Reginald Rose and the adapted “12 Angry Women” by Sherman Sergel, an inner-city teenager has just stood trial for the fatal stabbing of his father. Following the closing arguments in the murder trial, the 12 members of the jury must deliberate, with a guilty verdict meaning death for the accused. As the dozen jurors try to reach a unanimous decision while sequestered in a room, one juror casts considerable doubt on elements of the case. Personal issues soon rise to the surface, and conflict threatens to derail the delicate process that will decide one boy’s fate.

“There’s a variety of different personalities,” Hanson said. “They all have their personal opinions on what’s happened. The one person who says ‘not guilty’ right away is more introspective and wants to discuss, while there’s a couple people who don’t want to budge off ‘guilty.’ And it’s super hot with no air conditioning, so tempers are short.”

Hanson recognizes this is not an action, comedic or fantasy production. “One of the reasons I picked this was to give the cast something substantial,” he noted. “We’re trying to make it very period. The girls are wearing dresses and the men suits and hats.”

The Crawford County Courthouse is generously loaning the drama department some of its furniture and decor to add to the deliberation room set. Hanson said chairs and portraits are a few of the borrowed items. 

Because of the interpersonal interaction among the characters, “12 Angry Jurors” will be carried out as close to the audience as possible. Hanson hopes this will give the audience a more invested relationship with the cast, which consists of a mix of freshmen, sophomores and juniors at Prairie du Chien High School. 

The play includes three acts as well as an intermission. In total, it should run about an hour and a half long. 

Interested play-goers are encouraged to go online and purchase tickets for their preferred show. Hanson said the school is trying to push online sales. Though customers will eventually be able to pick their seats in advance, that option is not available yet. So this production is general admission. 

The website for tickets is: paac.ludus.com/index.php?step=seats. Once there, click on “Buy Tickets” and choose a performance of “12 Angry Jurors.”

Anyone who would rather buy tickets in person can do so at the high school office, or at the door prior to each show.

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