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Indian River Drama Club staging “12 Angry Jurors”

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PHILADELPHIA — Students in the Indian River Drama Club are channeling their anger in a productive way.

“12 Angry Jurors” will be staged in the intimate “black box”-theater style at the Indian River Theatre of the Performing Arts starting tonight and running through Saturday.

“It’s an interesting show because it’s very tension driven,” said Indian River Central High School senior Sierra M. Hicks, who plays juror number nine. “It’s all about one person who stands up to a group of people and convinces the others that there is reasonable doubt.”

The tense drama is adapted by Sherman Sergel, based on the 1997 Emmy-award winning television movie by Reginald Rose. There also was a 1957 film of “12 Angry Men,” starring Henry Fonda.

The drama club has a mixture of males and females for its “12 Angry Jurors.”

“We think the themes are pretty timeless, so we are setting it today,” said Indian River theater teacher and theater manager Kristie L. Fuller.

The last time Mrs. Fuller produced a black-box production — in which the audience is seated on stage — was two years ago with “And a Child Shall Lead,” set in a Nazi concentration camp. Seating is limited to 150 people at the shows.

“We thought that this show really lent itself to a black-box style,” Mrs. Fuller said.

“It’s just very intimate,” said Sierra. “We’re all around one table and you can see everybody’s face very clearly.”

Mrs. Fuller said her students have to adjust their acting style with the black-box style.

“It has to be not over the top,” she said. “They have to focus on the reality of the characters and the reality of the piece and how do they do that with an audience member two feet away from you?”

The play is about a 19-year-old man who is standing trial for the fatal stabbing of his father. It looks like an open-and-shut case until one of the jurors questions the evidence.

The case becomes personal, with each juror revealing his or her character as testimonies are re-examined and the murder is re-enacted.

The defendant is never seen in the play, but there are indications that he is a minority.

“It deals with prejudices and just the idea of what is reasonable doubt in a trial,” said Mrs. Fuller.

She added that her students are learning about the judicial system.

“It’s been really good for them to have to put themselves in a little bit older situation and have to look at the idea of innocence and proving somebody guilty and sending them to jail,” she said.

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The cast of “12 Angry Jurors” presented by the Indian River Drama Club:

Nicolette Marshall, jury foreman; Kenny Brennan, juror number two; Dale Hajdasz, juror number three; Cassie Slough, juror number four; Deanna Chavez, juror number five; Keoni Kadaraitis, juror number six; Aurora Adams, juror number seven; Brandon Hartlaub, juror number eight; Sierra Hicks, juror number nine; Rebecca Oster, juror number 10; JaShayla Thomas, juror number 11, and John Moran, juror number 12.

Katherine Zebrowski plays the guard with Chris Bjornstad, Sierra Brown, Daniel Johnson and Brian Wal as understudies.

The details
WHAT: The Indian River Drama Club presents “12 Angry Jurors.”
WHEN/WHERE: 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday at the Indian River Theatre of the Performing Arts, Indian River High School, Route 11, Philadelphia.
COST: Tickets are $5.
OF NOTE: Seating is limited for this black-box-style production. Tickets may be reserved by calling the theater’s box office at 642-5521.
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