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Getting 'Angry' on-stage with audience

One feature of the Park High School Drama Department's fall play is something never tried before at the school: the audience will be on stage with the performers.

"For the first time at Park, the audience will not be in the blue seats," said Tim Hofmann, director.

"Twelve Angry Men," by Reginald Rose, is a play about a dissenting juror in a murder trial who slowly manages to convert to thinking the case is not as obvious as it seemed in court.

There is nothing on stage but actors, a table and some chairs.

The audience will be seated around the actors in stadium seating, according to Hofmann.

"The audience will be one foot from the actors," he said. "It's a very intimate show. It's like having the audience in your lap."

There is nowhere to hide in a theater-in-the-round setting, he said. Actors in other plays are sometimes off to the side on stage and out of the main dialogue exchanges.

In "Twelve Angry Men," actors must stay engaged with what's being said, as they would in a real jury room, Hofmann said.

Memorizing and keeping track of the dialogue in this play is also challenging. In other plays, one person speaks and several actors respond. In this play, a question might go unanswered while the actors talk about something else until the question is picked up again.

Hofmann told the actors that this will be the most exhausting play they'll ever do.

"It's 100 percent acting," he said. "You can't be lazy or leave the room."

-- Lizzie Burton plays the first juror. She is also the jury foreman.

"He's kind of a pushover and doesn't like confrontation. I'm kind of like that because I'm a people pleaser. I'm just trying to keep the peace."

-- Hannah Birttnen is the second juror.

"She's the weakest juror who will agree with the juror who is the strongest. She's not a social person. I used to be like her but not now. I used to be 'small.'"

-- Elena Christensen is the third juror.

"My character is a jerk and a hold out. She has trouble with the fact that the accused is a male. I think I have it in me to do this role but she has different passions than I do."

--Ellie Korf is the fourth juror.

"She is the most educated of the jurors and just looks at the facts. In real situations I like to get both sides, even if one of the people is a friend."

--Cody Klipsic is the fifth juror.

"My juror is the youngest and the underdog. He relates to the man on trial and says he's only here to listen. In real life, I do listen but I try to understand both sides."

-- Kayla Green is the sixth juror.

"I'm a working person, thoughtful and accepting. My character understands her Black community and relates to other cultures. She's socially accepting."

-- Allison Dohedl is the seventh juror.

"She's really awful and selfish. It's all about her, all the time. I'm the opposite of her so when I'm playing her, I try to think about the times when I got sabotaged by someone."

-- Megan Lynch is the eighth juror.

"My character moves the plot along. She wants to hear the facts on both sides and has strong morals. In actual life, I believe in morals and want justice."

-- Tony Maher is the ninth juror.

"I'm quiet and kind-hearted. My character sits on the side and let's people talk. I'm exactly like that, actually. I'm kind hearted."

-- Kati Medina is the tenth juror.

"I'm a racist and bigot who thinks highly of herself. She's cocky and thinks everyone agrees with her. This is a difficult role for me because I'm not like that. I am stubborn, however."

-- Lucas Lindstrom is the eleventh juror.

"I'm an immigrant who has seen a lot of injustice and bad stuff. In life, I'm different from him in that I'm a happy person. To play him, I think of the injustice I saw when I went on a trip to China."

-- Sylvia Lowry is the twelfth juror.

"She's very rich and thinks she is better than other people. I'm not like her at all. To play her, I'm working on how she carries her body and her facial movements as she relates to the other jurors."

The guard is played by Paige Carter.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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