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Will the Theater Department’s Newest Production Make it on Stage?

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Juror 10's chair remains empty until the cast of 12 Angry Jurors can fill the role. Will they be able to do it in time for opening night?

Juror 10's chair remains empty until the cast of 12 Angry Jurors can fill the role. Will they be able to do it in time for opening night?

Photo by Quest Staff

Photo by Quest Staff

Juror 10's chair remains empty until the cast of 12 Angry Jurors can fill the role. Will they be able to do it in time for opening night?

Kaitlyn Valenzuela, Editor

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Any inconvenience can occur within the theater department that can easily sabotage a production which can only lead to the worst — calling off a show. However, that is exactly what has been going on behind the curtains for the past few months. The theater department has hassled nearly every obstacle and problem any cast and crew can only dread in their nightmares.

But what exactly has been happening backstage that has stirred up such a misfortune? Let’s go behind the scenes where the first sign of trouble appeared: The actors of the advanced theater class received their scripts of 12 Angry Jurors by Reginald Rose in September but by the time it was November, there were already complaints in regards to the choice of the play which was a precise decision made by the director and advisor of the drama program, Annette Deming. What made her decision very critical for the theater class was that she specifically chose a drama for the actors to perform that included plentiful roles for each actor and for them to have something that was more dialogue heavy than their previous productions.

Because the actors spend a lot of time studying their characters, Mrs. Deming is pushing them to perform actions that their character would do and speak like their character would as well. “I will frequently tell my actors to ‘make a different choice’ when it comes to them reciting their lines,” says Mrs. Deming. This method of directing has helped the actors grasp the ideology of adults.

This made the play rather more challenging for the cast for numerous reasons. As stated, Mrs. Deming had all her actors do research and carefully analyze their characters in order for them to truly grasp their roles. The cast was given freedom to develop their character from a modern perspective which also meant they had to transform their teenage viewpoints into adult mindsets because of the level of maturity the characters inherit.

The actors were displeased with the choice of play due to its lack of amusement which caused a mix of emotions between the cast and crew. This led to a division in which one group were laidback and considered themselves to be having fun with the production and another group was taking it more seriously and became frustrated with the others. The tension was now among these individuals and created a difficult environment for them all.

One specific actor that stands out from this entire calamity is former thespian president Josh Turner who had the lead role of Juror 3. He was the first of the bunch to speak up about several problems that were conflicting with him and informed Mrs. Deming about this important decision that would later greatly affect the entirety of the theater department. Josh decided that he was going to leave the advanced theater class, just before winter break.

But the show must go on.

Because Josh decided to leave, two other actors unexpectedly followed his lead (no pun intended). This caused a drastic change in roles, including a new lead actor. Mrs. Deming had to quickly think of a solution and to her luck, she was able to contact alumni who she had previously worked with during last year’s productions. The special alumnus who came to the rescue is Donte Reynolds.

Donte Reynolds is currently a student at the AMDA College and Conservatory of Performing Arts in Los Angeles and has taken over the lead role. Although this is one solution, it has its cons that play into a bigger problem. Dante is a very busy student who has other obligations with his school performances and other filming projects which interferes with his rehearsal time for 12 Angry Jurors.

It has been difficult for him to attend the rehearsals, affecting the other actors when they do not have a lead to interact with. Now that the final week of rehearsals has arrived, Dante must attend at least one session this week in order for the cast to be prepared. “If Dante doesn’t attend Wednesday’s dress rehearsal, then opening night is in jeopardy and I may have to cancel the show,” comments Mrs. Deming, worried that everyone’s hard work and perseverance will go down the drain.

But the show must go on.

And we are just at the beginning of all that could go wrong! During winter break, heavy rains washed over Chino and caused major flooding throughout the city and affected many buildings. One of those buildings happened to be the MPR where the play is to be held. And to theater’s dismay, the heavy rains caused a leak on the roof.

Oh, but this was no small leak that could have only created a puddle that can easily be mopped away, this was practically a waterfall coming down the roof! The water fell straight onto the carpet in the middle of the MPR and even got into the uplights. Assistant Principal Joseph Duarte notified Mrs. Deming about the damage and said if it did not get repaired by this week, she would have to find a new venue to host the play.

But the show must go on.

I’m not sure if we’ll make it to opening night but we’re still hanging on”

— Mrs. Deming

Another serious issue that has recently made it onto the table of problems was the replacement of Juror 7. The actress who portrayed the role of Juror 7 had to drop it due to medical issues, just a week and a half before opening night. Yet again, another quick solution had to be made before it got any worse.

Mrs. Deming recruited one of her actors from the Intro to Theater class who is only a freshmen. Her name is Olivia Ellis and she is making her acting debut this Friday. Olivia has been rehearsing for only a week and a half compared to the other actors who have had the script since September.

Her lines were split with other actors who only had a few lines, that way she didn’t have to memorize an abundance of lines in such a short amount of time. All of her cast members cheer her on when she does impressively well and she is very excited to be apart of this eventful production. Olivia has not had the benefit of analyzing her character like the other advanced drama kids have been doing so it is quite more challenging for her.

But the show must go on.

Earlier this year, the theater department hosted their first children’s theater in which they invited elementary schools within the school district. But because those schools needed transportation, the theater department had to help pay the fees for the buses. This took up a lot out of their budget and made it difficult for them to finance their current production.

With a remaining budget of $200, Mrs. Deming was restricted of spending money for 12 Angry Jurors and could only spend $65 on the production; $45 to get the rights to host the show for 2 nights and $25 for supplies. Considering the play is heavy with dialogue, it was beneficial for having minimal props and no scene changes. This time, Ayala High School’s theater department came to the rescue and were generous enough to provide props and equipment for the production.

Again, the show must go on.

To get a better perspective on the aggravating situation, Jonathan Alaniz who plays Juror 3 obliged to express his thoughts on the difficult production. “I sort of ‘walked into’ the situation when Josh and the other two actors were deciding to leave. I was on a college tour when I noticed there was a lot of angry texts in our group message. I understood that there was tension between some of the actors but I somewhat stood in the middle ground of the entire situation,” Jonathan says. He believes this entire situation has brought the current cast closer and it will be a “downer” if the show doesn’t get to make it to opening night.

Another fellow actress who shared her thoughts is Hailey Scott who plays Juror 6 in the play. “The dynamic changed in the theater after the departure of some actors and because of the problems that we’ve run into these past few months. I’m not sure if the play can make it at this point but we’re holding up so I’m not stressed. If we pull this off, with the whole fiasco that has happened, then that would be amazing and will make theater stronger as a class and program,” she says. A couple of the actors who left are close friends of Hailey’s which made her quite upset when she found out they were leaving, almost influencing her to leave as well but she didn’t give up and stuck by her cast and crew.

It is no doubt that the theater department has done everything they can to keep this production up and running. With over 117 hours of rehearsal time, there is no giving up for the actors and director who have practically shed blood and tears for the play to survive. 12 Angry Jurors is hanging by a thread as of right now but that isn’t stopping the actors and director to give it their all during this week’s dress rehearsal to give an outstanding, and most likely emotional, performance on opening night.

The show must go on. 

 

 

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Will the Theater Department’s Newest Production Make it on Stage?