Last month I had the opportunity to step into a role I usually avoid: media promotion. As Red Magnolia Theatre Company continues to grow, so do my responsibilities, and so does my excitement. I think every theatre student talks about forming their theatre company. At some point, you get tired of doing the theatre other people want you to do, so you want to carve out your own space for your own stories. Joining RMTC’s board is the culmination of so many dream companies.
RMTC’s most recent offering was two staged readings of Twelve Angry Men. The first was performed as part of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge‘s Ebb and Flow Festival. The second reading was performed much more intimately at Brew Ha-Ha where I turned the coffee shop into a jury room as a bit of environmental theatre. Both of these readings were performed with an all-woman cast to participate in the 12000 Voices project.
This project was an obvious one for my attention. For one it’s a national reading, which places it firmly in my research wheelhouse. I love national readings. They inspire me to feel connected to a something bigger, something potent. I spent a lot of time and focus researching national readings of It Can’t Happen Here and getting the chance to be a part of another pro-democracy project brought that historian-lizard part of my brain roaring to life. Like ICHH, Twelve Angry Men dramatizes the lone voice against coercion, prejudice, and rage. Also like ICHH, I found myself at times reminding people the play wasn’t partisan. Unless of course you see voter registration, justice, decency, and reasoned debate to be partisan. Then yes, it absolutely was partisan. Nakedly, proudly partisan.
The other reason I was drawn to the play is deeply personal. Twelve Angry Men shows how one person advocating for thoughtful analysis of a case and the acceptance of reasonable doubt can keep our justice system just (it’s also about a lot more, but I’m not going to give a close reading here). There was a time in my life when a person I care about was at the mercy of a jury. I am fiercely, loudly, passionately grateful to the people who serve on juries. We complain, we look up ways to get out of it, we stress about lost income, lost time… We don’t like jury duty. It demands so much of us, but to give what it demands is honorable. It is sacred. It might be one of the few things private citizens do that really constitutes “duty.” Because we are called. We are notified. If you have served on a jury, thank you. Thank you for your time, your thoughtfulness, your focus. Thank you.
I had the opportunity to talk about the play on the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s radio show. You can listen here. Again, I’m not very comfortable promoting things, but if you get me on tangent about the power of theatre I will not shut-up.
Thank you to everyone who came out to see Twelve Angry Men. The show was personal and communal and democracy-affirming. All the things I love. Thank you for engaging with us.