Reginald Rose 1920-2002 and born/grew up in New York Enlisted and served in WWII until 1946 Wrote since being a teenager, for TV plays, many plays made into films and TV series 1954 – first time called for jury duty – manslaughter case – eight hours before unanimous vote – wrote Twelve Angry Men as live one-hour legal drama which later became a film Won many awards, such as Emmys
Setting 1957 - ‘A very hot summer afternoon’ In a jury room of a New York Court of Law Described as ‘scarred table’ ‘a large, drab bare room in need of painting’ Oppressive, stifling: ‘The Guard exits and in the silence the sound is heard of the door being locked.’ ‘It has grown considerably darker in the room and it’s oppressively still.’ Jurors at times move to washroom
Plot/synopsis Young man accused of ‘murder in the first degree – premeditated homicide’ Twelve jurors locked in a jury room to determine if there is a ‘reasonable doubt’ Initially all but one juror find him “Guilty” but with discussion, arguments and persuasion – all change to “Not guilty” Question ability of defence counsel and accounts of witnesses as well as use of evidence – also strip away layers of prejudice, artifice, ‘fancy’…
What is reasonable doubt “Reasonable Doubt” is explained thusly: “That state of minds of jurors in which they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction as to the truth of the charge.” Source: Charles Montaldo In the play, both the jurors and audience must decide in the end if they agree – never given proof of the defendant’s innocence 100%
GKR: “Guilty” Oxford English Reference Dictionary definition: ‘Law: adjudged to have committed a (specified) offence, especially by a verdict in a trial’ (1995) 1. PARAPHRASE THIS MEANING 2. WHAT IS YOUR MEANING? 3. LIST 3 SYNONYMS and ANTONYMS
Vocabulary – add more to list wordmeaningsynonym defendant counsel witness prosecutor hung jury premeditated murder METALANGUAGE script dialogue props stage directions
Characters Why are they anonymous? Why are there 12 people in a jury? Why is the first juror called FOREMAN and what are his duties? In groups of three, quickly research and discuss these questions and report back to class – 10 minutes
What motivates a character? Fear Relationships Desire Values/Morals Actions Family Security Politics Greed Money Status Power/Authority Love/Lust Hatred Gender Culture/History Emotion Understanding/Interest Spiritual/Religious Ignorance Experiences
Themes/Ideas/Views and Values Justice and the court/jury system – jury’s deliberation and decision What is truth – is it fallible? Memory – witness accounts What is a fact – can details be ‘twisted’? Prejudice Stereotypes and class ‘Reasonable doubt’ VS certainty Historical Context: McCarthyism - use of trials in 1950s AND use of television drama
Genre and structure Drama – serious play Realism and Naturalism – explore daily life – a ‘slice of life’ – 1950s movement Legal drama but also about interactions between characters Two acts and all characters remain on stage despite washroom visits Employs Aristotle’s ‘unity of action, place and time’ – less than a day
Language and Dialogue Natural – language patterns of era and geographical setting of the play Working-class men yet different ie some ‘white collar’, share cultural interest in sport and film – same vernacular: ‘…ought to be down in Atlantic City at that hairsplitters’ convention.’ Use legal terms comfortably: ‘reasonable doubt’, ‘defendant’, ‘counsel’, ‘evidence’
Play Techniques Setting – description of room Props/sets – bare, minimal Costume – clothing of JURORs Stage directions – what they do Stage – of jury room and washroom Lighting – darkening ‘It is now darker than before’ – due to weather and atmosphere of tension Sound – Judge’s voice, etc.
What to do: 1. Read the play at least twice 2. Summarise in point form each scene 3. Takes notes on each character 4. Collect quotes and group them under headings 5. Ask yourself: What is the message or point of this play? What questions does the plot raise? 6. Answer the set questions 7. Vocabulary 8. Reflect upon each reading and how your views/readings change 9. Which character do you like/dislike the most? Why? 10. How does the language in the play influence and position the audience? What about the stage directions and props?