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Communique: "The Themes Are So Prevalent Today" | 12 Angry Men

Big Dawg Productions
"12 Angry Men" in rehearsal

Big Dawg Productionspresents the television, film, and stage classic, 12 Angry Men. The first weekend sold out, but there are 2 more weekends of performances at the Cape Fear Playhouse on Castle Street. Remaining performances are August 10-13 and 17-20; showtime is 8:00pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with 3:00pm matinees on Sundays.

Ticketsare available online, by phone, and by email. Listen to Artistic Director Steve Vernon and Director Katherine Vernon talk about the show above; see the transcript below. 

Gina: Why did you choose 12 Angry Men?

Steve: The thing about 12 Angry Men that stuck with me is that, not only is it just a great story and it's really told very well, but the themes that it explores are so prevalent today. There's the luxury of thinking that we've moved beyond certain prejudices or whatever. But reality shows us that's really not the case. And so much of what this story is about is, on a secondary and even tertiary level, is the prejudices that people bring into situations. The preconceived notions that we have about what type of people are automatically guilty or automatically innocent. And also the differences in opinions people have on what the law means and how it applies to different groups of people.

Gina: So it's not outdated.


Steve: I would say that 12 Angry Men is definitely not outdated.You know, there are references in the script that give you an idea of a certain period in which the play takes place. But beyond those references you could be watching something that's modern day.


Gina: Katherine, you're directing the show. First of all, it's interesting that you're directing 12 men and they're angry.


Catherine: Yes, they are.


Gina: How are you approaching this show?

Catherine: Honestly, I'm approaching it very much the way I approach any show I direct. Take it to the script, you know, as Steve said, all of the themes in the script are completely relevant today even though, I believe, the original, I believe it was written in 1957 so, it's what? It's 60 years old. Totally relevant. So, I mean, it's trying to be as honest as we can. Which isn’t fun for some of my actors who have to deliver some of the uglier pieces of the text. Some pieces of it can't be fun to have those words in your mouth. So just working them through, trying to make sure that they're playing things as honestly as they can and working to the point of the piece. Luckily, I have a really fantastic cast that is doing a great job.


Gina: When we talk about things like this--we are actually not as young as we used to be. We know this is a classic. Our parents, for our parents it was a classic. For young people today...12 Angry Men is actually something they may have never heard of.

Steve: Well, you know, one thing I find interesting is, one of the signs of being a classic is when people start parodying you. And there have been some really wonderful parodies of 12 Angry Men. Amy Schumer, on her show, did one, The Simpsons have done one, Family Guy has done one. So for anybody who's not familiar with this story, that may not realize the history behind it, that kind of gives them a luxury because they don't have the preconceived notions of what it's about if they haven't seen the film or if they've never seen the play. They don't have to go in they're comparing it to certain performances that have become iconic and they can just take the story on its own value. So, that's actually a benefit if you've not heard of the show before. If you're of a certain age or if you've just never seen it or what have you.


Really, the only thing you need to know about the show is that it takes place in real time in a jury room. It's not like other courtroom dramas where you get to see the trial unfold. Everything that you need to know about the circumstances are explained to you over the course of 75 minutes and there's enough that the language is structured in such a way that you learn about the case as the dialogue unfolds.

Gina: So is the guy guilty or innocent?


Katherine: Well, you'll have to come see the show to find out.

Steve: Yes, you do have to come see the show to find out.


Katherine: No spoilers here.

Steve: And if you are a regular patron of Big Dawg, we especially hope you'll be excited when you walk into the theater. We've rearranged the seating. We're doing a thrust style seating so the space looks completely different. So that's exciting as well.

Catherine: And it does, with the reconfiguration of the space in particular, it puts the audience basically in the jury room with these guys. So it's very immediate. You're right on top of it. I mean, it's...theoretically you can reach out and tap somebody on stage. We do not recommend it.

Steve: I actually ask that you don't.


Gina: It is 12 Angry Men.


Katherine: It is, it is. They might bite.