BY JANET ALLEN, EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Twelve Angry Men has simmered in the American zeitgeist for more than 60 years, in part because it pulls the curtain back on something that is a secretive process: the deliberations that go on in a sequestered jury room. Wherever we sit on the political spectrum, we share a basic respect for the US trial by jury system, one that has been the envy of many other countries because it assures that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a jury of peers. Within that sentence is contained many ideas that are contentious in our current time and have been throughout our country’s history. Is a trial by jury ever fair, or is it subject to the competitive skills of trial lawyers and the impressionability of juries? Are juries stacked against the presumption of innocence by wily litigators? Is the fairness of the US trial system threatened by economic disparity? And in a country still divided by race and color, can a person of color receive due process? All these questions and more are packed into Reginald Rose’s courtroom-adjacent drama. The play also casts a particularly penetrating eye on various American viewpoints, exposing the differences that education, economics, age, immigration status, and exposure to diversity have on the forming of those viewpoints.
But on another level, Twelve Angry Men is really good, old-fashioned playmaking. Taking place in real time, it feels like many a skillfully written play, where the craft of the writer takes a backseat to the sense that they might simply have been there, recording what could happen on a hot day in New York—or any court around our country—when twelve men speak as men do only when they are not in the presence of women or others they think might judge them. As a consequence, it’s gripping entertainment and a remarkable opportunity to enjoy great acting. The actors don’t leave the stage; we watch them continuously in every moment, as they vie to be heard, to ask questions, to vent their views, to cover their anger, to defend and attack. Some want to find the truth; others just want to get home or get on with it or get out.
We open our season with this American classic to invite your thinking and discussion about the provocations of the play, and to revel in how art can make issues come alive in vibrant, head- and heart-rattling ways. This play begins us on a journey through the six plays of our season ticket package, taking us through many expressions of thought and emotional life, all of them asking us to revitalize our humanity through laughter, discourse, tears, and reflection, and maybe even some commitment to activity. Welcome to IRT season 48. The ride is ahead.
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
Marketing Communications Manager
If you are interested in reviewing a production and would like to receive media passes, please email us.