By Sheena Barnett
BALDWYN – Sometimes, to see how far you’ve come, you’ve got to see where you’ve been.
That’s what the Baldwyn Main Street Players hopes to achieve with its production of “12 Angry Men.”
The play was originally produced in 1954, when juries were made up of only white men. The play has changed over the years to “12 Angry Jurors,” to include women, and often now includes a racially diverse cast.
The Baldwyn theater company is presenting it the original way, with a cast of 12 white men serving as the jury deciding the fate of an unnamed man arrested for homicide.
“I don’t know that anybody would say some of these things today,” said Jak Smith, a Tupelo attorney who stars as Juror No. 4. “But in the 1950s, it was fair game.”
The men on the jury take the job seriously, but in different ways. No. 4, as Smith said, is mild-mannered.
No. 3, played by Anthony Buse, is not.
“I am a bully,” Buse said. “I am obnoxious. But that’s completely against type.”
Neither of them have served on juries, but Buse did star as No. 3 when his high school produced “12 Angry Men.”
It’s been an interesting experience for first-time director Clark Richey. The theater’s stage is small, and all 12 actors stay on the stage for the entire play.
“The difficulty we have is coordinating movements in a rather stagnant setting and making it dynamic to the audience,” he said. “Every little movement is choreographed; it’s like a little dance.”
He’s also changing the seating in the theater so the audience members can see all of the actors’ faces.
And that’s a key part to a play that’s so full of emotions.
“This play, whether you’re from the north, south, east or west, it’s a show about how men view people from certain areas,” Buse said. “It’s how we shouldn’t look at people with preconceived ideas.”