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Twelve Angry Men: From the Big Screen to Gaithersburg’s Arts Barn

The movie Twelve Angry Men (1957) is an enthralling and fascinating analysis of a group of twelve jurors, mostly middle-aged white men, who are coincidentally brought together to reflect and decide on a recent murder trial. These men go to a jury room in order to discuss the case and come up with a fair decision against the poverty-stricken minority defendant with a history of crime, whose life is in the twelve men’s hands.

The film exposes the harsh realities of the trial-by-jury system. It portrays the experience of a disadvantaged, young defendant on trial facing the flawed American judicial system with its false sense of perfect equality. The film was first released in the 1950s, a time replete with racial and social tensions in America. The promotional poster for the film captivated people’s attention with its loud and socially significant headline: “LIFE IS IN THEIR HANDS – DEATH IS ON THEIR MINDS! It EXPLODES Like 12 Sticks of Dynamite.”

The award-winning drama became a huge hit. Since its original release, it has been adapted and performed on stages all across the United States. In fact, a series of show performances occurred recently right here in Gaithersburg, Maryland, at the Arts Barn. The performances ran from January 6 to January 22 in partnership with the Sandy Spring Theatre group. The play drew in the audience with their rendition of the jurors closely examining evidence and bravely facing their biases.

Woodrow Wilson High School junior Billy Barua-Payton said, “A lot of my friends from theater went all the way to Gaithersburg to watch the show. It was even better than the movie and I would definitely go back to see more.”

The Arts Barn is unfortunately not showing Twelve Angry Men anymore, but they are sure to provide more exciting shows in the future. Opening May 13th, 2016, the Gaithersburg Arts Barn will be showing The Foreigner, which takes place in a fishing lodge in rural Georgia. It is centered around a timid British man named Charlie who goes to the lodge for a holiday trip. There, Charlie meets a unique foreigner (hence the play’s title) who does not know how to speak English. Charlie embarks on an exciting journey, experiencing culture down South as he goes on many adventures with the exotic foreigner and stranger.

From the big screen to Gaithersburg’s Arts Barn, the play Twelve Angry Men has definitely made a lasting impact in cinematic history as well as American society at large. Future performances at the Arts Barn are sure to prove just as impressive and eye-opening. For more chances to see performances of renowned plays, visit the Arts Barn’s website:

Article by MoCo Student staff writer Camille Devincenti of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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