An Old Man
This is how Juror 9 is described in the script and he gets mocked and discounted by other
jurors because of his age. While I am probably the oldest, or one of the oldest, actors in the show, our director, Richard, told me in my audition talk that I was too young for the role (thanks, Richard!) but that he trusted my acting ability to pull it off. So I told him that all I had to do was think back to how I feel getting out of bed in the morning!
I’m a bit unique as well in that I drive out to Barrington from Chicago every night during rush hour for rehearsal—a trip that can take anywhere from an hour to two-and-a-half hours one way. Why do I do this and why is it worth it? My castmates, my director, and Mr. Rose’s play. Richard can be grouchy but he is also incredibly supportive when someone discovers something new about his character or makes something work that did not the night before. He pushes us, but in the end we will have an amazing show. I knew one of my castmates from another show but everyone else was new to me—kind of like being selected for a jury! I am amazed every night at the dedication, focus and talent of this group of very supportive men (and Carly and Jen too, course!)
While it would have been fun to play one of the jurors who was a little further from my wheelhouse, I have found SO much to relate to with Juror 9, apart from his age. He is quiet, a keen observer of people, with a sharp wit, and while somewhat frail, is not afraid to confront the more strident jurors. From his detailed observation of the two chief witnesses he is able to notice details and motives that others miss. He does this in part because he understands them.
I will be moving into semi-retirement this summer and can connect with Juror 9 who in talking about one witness, another old man, describes him as someone who has never been quoted and who nobody listens to or asks advice from. There is always that fear as we get older, that there are fewer parts, that we will become irrelevant, forgotten about, or just shunted to the side. Juror 9 has taught me a lot about myself—the importance of living in the moment and that an old man can occasionally still be counted upon to help save the day.
Bill Chamberlain-Juror #9