2 Describe the expressions on the juror’s faces. How do they feel?
3 Plot Summary:A jury must decide whether or not to reach a guilty verdict and sentence the 19 year old defendant to death. At the beginning of the play, eleven jurors vote “guilty.” Only one man, Juror #8, believes that the young man might be innocent. He must convince the others that “reasonable doubt” exists. One by one, the jury is persuaded to agree with Juror #8.
4 Production History:Written by Reginald Rose, Twelve Angry Men was originally presented as a televised play on CBS’sStudio One. The teleplay was broadcast in By 1955, Rose’s drama was adapted into a stage play. Since then it has been seen on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and countless regional theaters productions.In 1957, Henry Fonda starred in the film adaptation (12 Angry Men), directed by Sidney Lumet. In the 1990s version, Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott co-starred in an acclaimed adaptation presented by Showtime.The play has also been slightly revised as Twelve Angry Jurors in order to accommodate a gender-neutral cast.
5 The Prosecution’s Case: At the beginning of the play, eleven of the jurors believe that the boy killed his father. They summarize the compelling evidence of the trial:A 45 year old woman claimed she witnessed the defendant stabbing his father. She watched through her window as the city’s commuter train passed by.An old man living downstairs claimed that he heard the boy yell “I’ll kill you!” followed by a “thump” on the floor. He then witnessed a young man, supposedly the defendant, running away.Before the murder took place, the defendant purchased a switchblade, the same type that was used in the murder.Presenting a weak alibi, the defendant claimed he was at the movies at the time of the murder. He failed to remember the names of the films.
6 What Is “Reasonable Doubt”? From Charles Montaldo’s Crime/Punishment GuideSite, “Reasonable Doubt” is:“That state of minds of jurors in which they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction as to the truth of the charge.”Some audience members walk away from Twelve Angry Men as if a mystery has been solved, as if the defendant is proven 100% innocent. However, Reginald Rose’s play intentionally avoids providing easy answers. We are never given proof of the defendant’s guilt or innocence. No character rushes into the courtroom to announce, “We found the real killer!” The audience, like the jury in the play, must make up their own minds as to the verdict of the case.
7 Finding Reasonable Doubt: Juror #8 picks apart each piece of evidence to persuade the others. Here are some of the observations: The old man could have invented his story because he craved attention. He also might not have heard the boy’s voice while the train was passing by. Although the prosecution stated that the switchblade was rare and unusual, Juror #8 purchased one just like it from a store in the defendant’s neighborhood. Some members of the jury decide that during a stressful situation, anyone could forget the names of the movie they had seen. The 45 year old woman had indentations on her nose, indicating that she wore glasses. Because her eyesight is in question, the jury decides that she is not a reliable witness.
8 What is happening at this point of the play What is happening at this point of the play? Which evidence has been cast in doubt? What is the mood like at this point?
9 Questions Which characters base their decisions on prejudice? Does Juror #8, or any other character, exercise “reverse discrimination”?Should this trial have been a hung jury? Why / why not?What are the most persuasive pieces of evidence in favor of the defence? Or the prosecution?Describe the communication style of each juror. Who comes closest to your own style of communication?How would you have voted if you were on the jury?