MTVarts Classics Series brings “Twelve Angry Men” to life

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio—Local nonprofit theater organization MTVarts is pleased to perform its Classics Series production, “Twelve Angry Men,” May 5-7, at the Knox County Memorial Building Theater. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online at www.mtvarts.com or at the door. The event is sponsored by Sara Mankins, financial advisor for Edward Jones, and Youth Philanthropy Initiative of the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County.

Directed by local actor and OSU theater major Ian Fraser Ernsberger, “Twelve Angry Men” features the following central Ohio actors: Desmond Wall, Sam Vance, Bruce Jacklin, Doug Browell, Mark Fongheiser, Andrew Duffy, Matt Starr, Richard McKinley, Rodney Cheek, Don Lincicome, Thor Collard, James Michalovich and Steve Jefferson.

In the story, a young man is accused of murdering his father. His fate now lies in the hands of 12 individuals. Eleven think he is guilty, but 12 are needed to pronounce the verdict. “Twelve Angry Men,” a deeply psychological drama written in 1954 by Reginald Rose, reveals humanity’s interior by taking us inside a jury deliberation room after closing arguments have been presented in a murder case. The accused is a teenage boy from a city slum, the victim is the boy’s father. At the time the play is set, a guilty verdict is accompanied by a mandatory death sentence. The jurors are reminded that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty—and that a guilty verdict must be unanimous, beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Though written during the McCarthy era in United States history, the play is still extremely relevant,” said director Ian Fraser Ernsberger. “The sometimes angry discussions reveal prejudices and personal histories as well as the internal wrangling that is the deepest process of democracy. It’s an analysis of human nature, throwing 12 people in a room who must come up with a decision.”

“12 Angry Men” was originally written for television, made famous in a 1957 movie production, starring Henry Fonda and Lee Jay Cobb. It was the first movie Sidney Lumet directed.

One goal of the MTVarts Classics Series is to reach out to area schools and educators by providing a unique learning experience. Nearly 900 central Ohio middle and high school students will watch a free morning performance on Friday, May 5. Following the show, students will have the opportunity to engage in a talk-back session with the cast, crew and local judicial experts, Honorable Richard Wetzel, Knox County Common Pleas Judge; Chip McConville, Knox County Prosecuting Attorney; and John S Pyle, Public Defender City of Mount Vernon, to discuss the compelling themes, symbolism and timelessness of the story.

Tickets are on sale now online at www.mtvarts.com, at First-Knox National Bank and will also be available at the door. Adults are $12 and students are $5.

For information about MTVarts and upcoming shows, visit www.mtvarts.com or follow MTVarts on Facebook.