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‘12 Angry Jurors’ explores drama behind deliberation

A scene from a rehearsal of “12 Angry Jurors.” (Jenna Apollonia)
A scene from a rehearsal of “12 Angry Jurors.” (Jenna Apollonia)
The cold weather has done nothing to cool off tempers in the south, as Busan English Theater Association will stage a production of “12 Angry Jurors” his weekend.

The play was originally a TV production but was most famously produced as the film “12 Angry Men” in 1957.

BETA production director Michael Uchrin said he wanted to stage it after seeing the movie.

“It wasn’t so much focused on the court proceedings as it was on the people and how they reacted to those proceedings. So it seemed to be much more of a human drama than a court procedural.”

Uchrin said the play looked at court drama differently in the sense that it was about how 12 people searched for the truth, rather than whether the defendant ― a man accused of killing his father ― was guilty or not.

“It’s a dynamic study of people’s perspectives being formed by their own baggage. People seeing things through their own personal prejudices and experiences and allowing those to filter into how they see the case,” he said.

“By and large serving on a jury is not the most thrilling experience, and there’s a lot of interpersonal struggle between people searching for the truth and people looking to get things over with.

“It’s definitely very tense. The table is fairly small and so everyone is cramped into a tight space and there’s a lot of temper flare-ups.”

While he conceded that the play’s simple staging was a plus for a small company, the cast was another issue.

“In some ways the large cast has made up for the ease of dealing with a single set. ... I have been in the heads of 13 different characters.”

Uchrin said that the character he felt most connected to, at least as an actor, was the third juror.

“He is the one whose emotional baggage limits his worldview the most. He sees the young defendant through the prism of his own experience with his son, from whom he is estranged. His emotional experience is a very strong one, so I have really enjoyed what Indy (Randhawa) has done with the character.”

The Busan production differs from the original in its inclusion of women on the jury, but Uchrin points out that mixed-gender productions have been staged since the 1960s, and they only require minor script changes, such as pronouns.

His other alteration was to modernize the play to a contemporary version, to avoid the need for period costume and props.

“I made a few modern references and modified some of the language to reflect modern colloquialisms and the way people speak. I got rid of some hokey phrases, though I kept one because someone really liked the phrasing. I allowed myself to get outvoted.”

The show will be staged on Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Free Sea Theater in Busan.

Tickets are 5,000 won. Email busantheatre@gmail.com for inquiries.

By Paul Kerry (paulkerry@heraldcorp.com)
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