Arena Fair Theatre will perform a radio version of the stage play “12 Angry Men” on Facebook Live this Saturday.
“It’s really rather unusual, just like everything is these days,” said Gregory Patterson, Arena Fair’s artistic director.
Patterson said Arena Fair performed the show a few years ago, and the group was planning to do a reprise of the show for both a seminar hosted by the Ohio State Bar Association and a weekend of performances in Delaware. The COVID-19 outbreak, however, canceled those plans.
“As you know, the world caved in,” Patterson said. “We were in mid-March, so we had rehearsed a lot and it was all coming back to us.”
Patterson said the idea to perform the show online came from Delaware County Juvenile Court Judge and Arena Fair President David Hejmanowski.
“I don’t know when we’re going to be able to have 60 or 100 people in a room,” said Hejmanowski. “If we’re not going to be able to do this any time soon, I’m doing hearings by phone and zoom, and doing meetings (online) … and I thought, ‘You know, it’s a play.’ They did radio plays for years. This isn’t a physical comedy, it isn’t slapstick or a musical where we have to coordinate music. Why couldn’t we sit in our houses and do the dialogue just as easily as we could be in the room.”
The performance will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 2, on Facebook Live. Patterson said a link to the show will be made available at arenafair.com. He added that while the show is free, donations are welcome.
Patterson said adapting the stage show, which follows an unnamed jury in one room deliberating the verdict in a murder case, into a show that can be conveyed with only dialogue has been a challenge.
“The show itself isn’t normally done that way, but we are trying to step up to the plate and do some unusual things,” he said. “To my knowledge, this is the first time it has been done under these circumstances.”
Patterson said there are many scenes of jurors arguing with each other or interacting with each other physically. He said the cast has been working on ways to verbally convey who they are speaking to or what is happening to the audience.
“It’s extremely different,” Patterson said. “Drama in radio is ‘theater of the mind.’ You don’t get to see what the jurors look like and you don’t get to see their reactions. It’s done through vocal variations and through internal tension becoming external … We don’t know who is speaking to whom, so we’ve had to add some directions. It helps the listener direct the action.”
Hejmanowski, who plays the antagonistic third juror, said the cast has been adding lines like, “You, juror No. 5,” to their regular lines to help the show maintain it’s original impact.
“Because people can’t see us, we have actually had to be mindful of inserting juror numbers,” Hejmanowski said. “(We’re thinking about) what do we have to do to make sure people are getting the same experience they would get sitting and watching it in person. We are trying to make sure we’re telling the same story in a meaningful way.”
Hejmanowski added he is glad the show is able to be performed again, and he’s looking forward to it.
“It’s been interesting,” he said. “It’s fun to do. None of us have a lot of evening activities going on at the moment … For us, it’s a nice way to feel like that work is going to have some payoff.”
Patterson said he’s pleased the show will be performed and that due to the outbreak, the summer production of “Sound of Music” has been canceled. He added Arena Fair still plans to perform “The Odd Couple” and “A Christmas Carol” this fall and winter, respectively.
More information about the show can be found at arenafair.com.