Hi ya folks! Play scripts recently published 12 Incompetent Jurors, a play that’s very near and dear to me. To mark the occasion, I interviewed myself (which is something I do on my blog from time to time) about the play.
So you seem to write a plot of plays, what makes this one so special?
Well the biggest reason 12 Incompetent Jurors has a special place in my heart is that it’s the only Playscripts play I’ve ever produced and acted in myself. And I can honestly say it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. Something about using the structure of 12 Angry Men but doing it as a comedy… just really seemed to work (in my production at least). We had sold out, enthusiastic crowds and out of everything I’ve written, it’s the one play that family members will stills ay to me, “whatever happened to that 12 Jurors play. That one was so funny, you should do it again.” Usually my family members usually say… nothing. Or awkwardly say “good job” and look at their shoes.
Didn’t you already write a one-act version of this play?
Yes, I did. But I actually wrote this full-length version first. It was always intended to be a full-length play, but for reasons that are too boring to explain… the one-act version was published first. The one-act I’m happy with, but this full-length version I believe works much better (just as 12 Angry Men works better as a full-length play).
Okay, well tell us about it? Why did you write it?
I wrote this play when I was in Jury Duty. I was bored, as most people are during Jury selection, and my mind drifted to 12 Angry Men. And then a thought popped into my head “could that play work as a comedy?” Just the premise alone seemed like it could work. The idea of 1 juror turning the 11 others from one verdict to the other seems like a funny idea, right? All you would have to do is change the crime to something silly (like stealing cats), and make the defendant CLEARLY guilty (in my version he is). Then the play turns into more of a farce.
But then I realized I had never actually seen or read the play. So maybe I should do that first. I had a vague recollection of a one-act adaptation my brother was in high school (he played the racist juror! Go Adam!), but it was pretty vague. So I walked myself down to the drama bookshop and picked up a copy and… boy did it seem like it could be funny. I was surprised at how short it was. How the characters were kind of broad and defined by a single trait (there’s the nervous guy! and the foreign guy! And the angry guy!). And there were lots of dramatic set pieces that I thought could easily be turned into comedic ones.
So I got to writing. With the vague goal of doing it in the Fringe Festival. I used the original script’s beats as a template. I wrote each character with a specific voice in my head (imagining which of my actor friends would be the funniest in each role). And viola! Three weeks later I had a first draft (and then 8 months after that I had a much better one).
Do I have to read 12 Angry Men to get this play?
Not at all. Most of the people who saw my production had no knowledge of the original. And even jokes that were clearly poking fun at the original seemed to work. For example, the original has 2 act breaks in a 65 minute play. These act breaks, in my opinion, happen for no reason. A character is like “well we what do you with think of this knife?” Curtains are drawn. Curtains go back up and the same character is like “well… what do we think?” I made a couple of jokes about this. One, the curtain calls are very dramatic. Music played, the lights changed. I really wanted to emphasize that this happens for no reason. And two, I had one character who seems to be aware the play stopped. He freaks out every time there’s an act break. This I thought was maybe too meta or dumb, but it got some of the biggest laughs of the entire play. And I don’t think its because people were 12 Angry Men heads… it’s just funny I guess. Because it’s unexpected maybe? I don’t know, and frankly I don’t care. I’m just glad it worked.
That being said there’s a few more layers and a few more jokes if you’ve read or seen the original. My dream would be if someone would do both plays in rep. I’d love to see them done back to back, with the same cast, seeing it played for drama and for laughs. But by no means is it necessary.
All right. I’m getting bored. Anything else I should know about this play?
It’s got 12, distinct, funny characters. It has a built-in audience and name recognition that should make it easy to promote and sell (it was for me anyway). It could foster a discussion about the limits and faults of our justice system.
Um… it has a guy stealing cats! That’s something huh!
Is it as good as Amy Schemers 12 Angry Men parody?
…. No. But in fairness I did write my years before she wrote hers. So…
Does that make it better though?
No. It doesn’t. But hers can’t really be done in high schools or community theaters. I mean it could, it should. It’s brilliant critique on sexism and the entertainment industry. But Amy Shumer’s 12 Angry Men parody… isn’t published. So your stuck with mine.
Okay but just to be clear hers is better?
Yes its better! Happy! But you can’t produce hers and you can produce mine! So do mine. By going to play scripts!