Breaking News
More () »

Local community theater group breathes new life into an old classic

“Aethereal Jest’s Twelve Angry Jurors” runs Aug. 25 through Sept. 3 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center in downtown Columbus.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first production of it’s first theatrical season, Aethereal Jest Arts Council is staging an all-new adaptation of the time-tested tale “Twelve Angry Jurors.”

“Twelve Angry Jurors is one of those, like, milestone shows,” said Director Leo Bennett of his initial excitement over taking part in such a beloved classic. “Like, everybody in theater has to do it whether you’re in it, whether you direct it, whether you’re part of the crew...everybody does it.”

But, when he discovered Aethereal Jest’s plan to make the piece their own, Bennett was hooked.

“We have taken the public domain script from the original 1940s TV movie and the cast updated it into their own words,” explained Brian Palmer, the executive director of Aethereal Jest Arts Council. “It still hits the same beats that any other version has done, but the actual words, the actual lines, the actions that the characters take are completely unique to this cast and this production.”

Both Bennett and Palmer believe the updated characterizations and dialogue really serves to modernize what some see as a dated telling of a timeless tale.

The core of the story revolves around the titular jurors who, after sitting through a lengthy murder trial, grapple with the facts of the case, confronting each other and navigating the biases and prejudices each have brought to the table. 

For Aethereal Jest, the key to updating the play was to not just update the dialogue, but to cast 12 players that more appropriately reflected the diversity of the contemporary setting.

“Today especially...with the political climate and the social climate that we have, all the Black Lives Matter movement that we see, to have a room as diverse as we could possibly have was very important to me,” said Bennett, “and the amount of BIPOC, queer, [and] female performers that we have in this show just really brings out the humanity and depth in the show that’s in what we’ve created that you just don’t see in the original broadcast...that you don’t see in the script that we originally had.”

“The one thing that I’ve been realizing is that, as different as the times seem, when you really boil down to it, we’re going through the same things,” Palmer pointed out. “You read this show and, if it weren’t for the language being so dated, you would think that it was a brand-new, current piece.”

Palmer continued, “I think that this production will help a lot of members of the audience to have conversations that we wouldn’t normally have [and] to maybe challenge some preconceived notions that they’re coming in with; that, through the arts, through theater, [they] are able to – potentially – see a different perspective.”

“Aethereal Jest’s Twelve Angry Jurors” runs Aug. 25 through Sept. 3 at the Columbus Performing Arts Center in downtown Columbus. Showtimes and ticket information can be found at https://www.aetherealjest.com/

More of what's happening within Columbus theater ⬇️

Before You Leave, Check This Out