By Kathryn Kwapniewski, Staff Writer
The Queen’s Court Company staged the school’s first dramatic production, Twelve Angry Women, on Nov. 21 and 22 at Middletown Arts Center, winning the applause and praise of the audience with two successful performances.
“The play was intense. The actresses portrayed their parts well and were very convincing,” said sophomore Kelly Jennings, who attended opening night.
This drama, which is a spin-off from the well-known and award-winning play Twelve Angry Men, was selected by director and drama teacher Ellen Phillips because it featured an all-female cast and encouraged students to learn a bit more about the jury system. Phillips used both context and characters from the original play and combined them with the newer version to give the play more depth. She also added a few monologues based on actual court cases to provide more opportunities for students to shine on stage.
“I enjoyed being a part of the play because it was fun to participate and not have all the pressure that the jurors had of memorizing all of the lines,” said freshman Brigid Clifford, who played Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
Twelve Angry Women is about a jury of twelve women deciding whether a 19-year-old boy is innocent or guilty when he is accused of murderous actions towards his father. While deciding the boy’s fate, the women come to realize their varying opinions and the discussion in the jury room becomes personal and heated.
“My role [as Juror #10] pushed me to my acting limits because I’ve never played such an angry character before, and while I wasn’t comfortable yelling at Holly [Koerwer, Juror #8] and all of my friends at first, it was a great experience that really helped my acting,” sophomore Sarah Frankel said.
Phillips commended the actresses for their willingness to go outside of their comfort zone to convincingly play their roles. “The character building exercises we did really helped the girls understand the play and their characters,” Phillips said. “The students also selected and created their own costumes, which allowed them to get into their characters more deeply. I was thrilled with their performance…I truly could not have been more happy.”
The show kept the audience guessing what would happen next and if the boy would turn out guilty or not. At the play, Phillips put a box with paper and pencils in the back of the theater where audience members could cast their verdict on the boy’s innocence or guilt. The feedback from the audience was that the boy was not guilty, which was the final decision in the play as well.
Despite the heated nature of the play, the vibe during rehearsals was “interestingly not angry,” said Phillips, noting there was always laughter. The rehearsals also allowed the students involved to form close bonds as they experienced the challenges and successes of preparing for the show.
“I have come so close with the other girls doing the play,” assistant director Kate Burgess said.