12 Angry Jurors: A new setting


Sara Entezarmahdi

Above the tile flooring, below the dimmed lights and before the stand alone water dispenser, lies the set of Monta Vista’s 2016 fall play: “12 Angry Jurors.”

The play, a rendition from the original drama written by Reginald Rose in 1964, has been modified to adapt to MVHS’ female-heavy casting and unique set.

And the set is quite the set. Simplistic and modern, the set embodies the heart of the show: the jurors. With the 12 of them seated around a long office table, they are the utmost focus of the show.

What makes the set different, though, is obvious to anyone who’s been to a previous MVHS play. Shockingly enough, the play is not in the auditorium. Instead, it’s performed in the Black Box theatre, a place regularly known for practices, rehearsals and small shows — not for performances at this scale.

The seating is drastically different as well. Instead of your run-of-the-mill stage before an audience, the setting of this play is strategically laid out for an up-close-and-personal feel. With the three rows of seats set up along the two sides of the Black Box, facing one another with the show in between them, the experience is both surreal and overwhelmingly intimate.

Senior Christina Schuler, who plays one of the jurors, said she appreciates the new setting.

Photo by Sara Entezar
Senior Christina Schuler. Photo by Sara Entezar

“I feel like it really makes sense for this show,” Schuler said. “I’ve seen the show actually done on a larger stage, like our auditorium, and I didn’t really connect to it … It’s such a personal story. Being able to see each juror really close up — I think is a good benefit … It’s real art right in front of you. ”

This setting is beneficial to both the audience and the cast alike.

Photo by Sara Entezar
Freshman Angela Chu. Photo by Sara Entezar

“I’ve done shows before where there was a traditional stage set up and audience set up; that in its own way had differences because we have to focus on your fellow actors and talk to them as well as the audience,” freshman and understudy Angela Chu said. “In this scene, we were all able to look at each other. And we could all see each others facial expressions and balance emotion off of each other so I thought that was really cool.”

But changing locations does have drawbacks as well. The Black Box stage is a lot smaller and has less room for outgoing and movement-expressive acts. On top of that, the small stage, so near to the rows of the audience, leaves the cast to be wary of where they step — making sure they don’t actually touch the audience.

“Since we’re in a table, half the time you’re gonna be seeing our backs, so it’s really been a challenge trying to work ways that the whole audience to see us for parts of the show,” Schuler said.

The cast members have learned to adjust to these unchangeable matters.

Regardless of the changes, the show’s run-throughs have gone smoothly. With the cast confident and the finishing touches to be addressed and tweaked, the smooth rehearsal indicates an amazing show underway — regardless of where the play is taking place.

Finally, the cast’s high expectations of a good show wouldn’t be achievable without the audience’s involvement.

“Pay attention. Listen closely. It’s an important story to be heard,” Schuler said. “Just come with an open mind.”