Arena Fair Theatre’s upcoming production of the legal drama “12 Angry Men” will be performed at an appropriate venue, the historic Delaware County Courthouse.
“12 Angry Men” was a teleplay written in 1954 and was later adapted into an Academy Award nominated film in 1957. The story centers around a jury of 12 men as they deliberate in a murder case.
Gregory L. Patterson, Arena Fair’s artistic director, said Friday that the story of the play has never been more relevant.
“It’s as relevant today as it was 50 or 60 years ago,” Patterson said. “It not only grapples with basic issues of justice, but includes [themes] of racism, suspicion, outsiders and whether the American justice system really serves minorities in every case. It’s certainly a play for our time.”
Patterson said ever since the beginning of Arena Fair Theatre, not having a home theater has been an issue, but in this case, an issue that yielded an interesting result.
“The county has been very, very generous in letting us use Judge Shaw’s courtroom at the courthouse,” Patterson said. Patterson said the county previously allowed Arena Fair to perform “The Caine Mutiny” in the commissioner’s chambers.
Patterson said many members of the case are members of the Delaware County Bar or Ohio State Bar and said it was amusing that the lawyers will be playing jurors.
“The irony of the location is that it’s a story about deliberation in a jury room, but we are doing it in the courtroom,” Patterson said. “Many of them have said they’ve never been called [for jury duty] so this gives the opportunity to be on the other side of the bar, so to speak.”
Patterson said he was excited about using the courtroom because it has many benefits.
“It’s a very intimate setting,” Patterson said. “The show requires an intimate location with the audience …. Another advantage is there’s no need for sound equipment. There isn’t a bad seat in the house!”
Patterson laughed that some members of the audience will be seated, ironically, in the jury box, for the performance.
The performances are Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. and on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets for the event are on sale at ArenaFair.com or by calling 740-302-TKTS. The price is $10 for standard seating and $15 for jury box seating.
Patterson said half the proceeds of the Friday night performance will go to the Delaware County Bar Foundation, which does special projects within the county.
Patterson added while he is excited to perform the show at the courthouse, he is also going to be meeting with the Delaware County Fairgrounds board to discuss a possible partnership and a possible home for Arena Fair.
He said Arena Fair isn’t going anyway and added they will be producing a tribute to the music of Richard Rogers this Mother’s Day weekend.
Contact Glenn Battishill at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.