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Careful What You Wish For...Juror 10

I told Jen, the Parker Players Artistic Director, that I might just write a haiku for my post; here it is:

Honest opinion

You may not like it, so what

Just listen to me

Well, a haiku doesn't have enough syllables.

I went to the audition eyes wide open. I had worked with Richard before and our relationship was tense at times. I had a vision of the character and he had a vision of the character and the Grand Canyon stood between the two. An actor's job is to bring the director's vision to life, and in the end, I felt I had.

After that, I wasn't sure if Richard would work with me again, but I had a good experience with the Parker Players and liked the play and so decided to audition for 12 Angry Men.

The audition went as expected. We discussed what characters I thought I could play and what characters Richard thought I could play. We were somewhat in agreement: characters that were intelligent or nervous or timid, etc. In the end, I did something I have never done in an audition before. I asked to read for a part that I was convinced there was no chance of being cast as - the role of the aggressive bigot Juror 10. I wanted to show Richard I could play "angry." He agreed and invited me back. It was low stakes as neither of us had much to lose.

I came back, read 10's ending monologue, and left with Richard's "thank you." Then the phone call came. "I can't believe Richard cast me as Juror 10!" quickly turned into "Richard cast me as Juror 10!!!" And the rehearsals began...

It has been tough. To me, Juror 10 is one of "those people:" coarse, confrontational, uneducated, and unimaginative. To understand him, I initially approached the character cerebrally, but the technique wasn't working and I wasn't connecting in an emotional way. Frustrated, I asked Richard for some time. He pointed out that everything I needed to understand about Juror 10 was already in the script, and encouraged me to focus on Juror 10's words and how they impacted the other characters. Stop overcomplicating and start doing. The "why" didn't matter. I just needed to "be." We ended our talk with Richard reassuring me he cast me for a reason and he knew I had it in me. I just needed to get out of my own way.

Over the weeks and with a pointed early reference to Paul Lynde, we have stripped away acting mannerisms and tricks that are easy to hide behind. The journey has become one of connecting to the character's unvarnished honesty and the depth of rage and fear living inside. I've come to realize that Juror 10 is not one of "those people," and to play him I needed to listen, which brings me back to my haiku:

Honest opinion

You may not like it, so what

Just listen to me

The cast has been terrific to work with, and supportive of my journey. Listening and reacting to what they are bringing to their characters has been pivotal to my character's development. I could not do it without the commitment and honesty they bring.

I am proud of the work we've done with 12 Angry Men. Richard's respect for the material, vision, and guidance has solidified into a production that will explode on stage and should not be missed.

Mark Brewer -Juror 10

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