Tag: theater

12,000 Voices: A reading of “12 Angry Men” by 12 impassioned women






“It made me realize, oh my goodness, it’s about how important each of our voices are.”

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts
Kathy Privatt

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

The voices of thousands of women will ring out from stages across the country from April 5 to 8, part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to the power of one’s voice when it comes to participating in the electoral process and speaking up for justice in the judicial system.

The 12,000 Voices project is an opportunity to push for voter registration — it’ll come on the heels of the April 2 election that has Wisconsinites voting on, among other things, a State Supreme Court justice as well as Court of Appeals and Circuit Court judges — and to remind people of the powerful responsibility that comes with being an American citizen, not the least of which is voting and jury duty.

In Appleton, the effort is being led by Lawrence University’s Kathy Privatt, the James G. Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theater arts, and Maria Van Laanen, president of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.

Privatt will direct a reading of 12 Angry Men, featuring 12 women from the Fox Cities in the roles of the jurors, set for 3 p.m. April 6 in the Kimberly-Clark Theatre inside the Fox Cities PAC.

It will be one of many such readings taking place at performance centers, college campuses, high schools and community centers across the country during that four-day period.

12 Angry Men focuses on a single juror who stands up for a defendant he believes is about to be wrongfully convicted. The film was released in 1957, 16 years before the last of the 50 states allowed women to serve on juries. The message in these readings with all-female casts — the dream is to eventually get 12,000 women involved — is about embracing all of our responsibilities as citizens.

“It’s about how we live our lives, and in this case, how we live our political lives,” Privatt said. “But in a completely nonpartisan way. We live in a democracy. That means that jury duty is important. It means that voting is important, that that’s part of being an American.”

Kathy Privatt and Maria Van Laanen hold a 12,000 Voices sign.
Kathy Privatt (left) and Maria Van Laanen are leading the “12,000 Voices” effort in Appleton.

In the movie, which would later debut as a Broadway play in 2004, the holdout juror in a murder case raises his voice for justice against intense pressure from his jury peers.

“It made me realize, oh my goodness, it’s about how important each of our voices are,” Privatt said of the classic film. “And that that’s what democracy rests on, that we’re willing to engage with our voices, that we’re willing to be in conversation with each other.”

Van Laanen, who spearheaded local participation in the project, will be in the cast, joined by 12 other women (12 as jurors, one as the guard), all in local leadership positions:

Kimberly Barrett, vice president for diversity and inclusion and associate dean of faculty at Lawrence

Becky Bartoszek, president and CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber

Tracy Bauer, music director and teacher at Mishicot High School

Lisa Cruz, president of Red Shoes PR

Alison Fiebig, corporate communications manager of U.S. Venture

Karen Laws, longtime community leader and philanthropist

Lisa Malek, co-host and producer at WFRV-TV

Linda Morgan-Clement, the Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life at Lawrence

Karen Nelson, diversity coordinator for the City of Appleton

Colleen Rortvedt, director of the Appleton Public Library

Jennifer Stephany, executive director of Appleton Downtown Inc.

Christina Turner, president of the Trout Museum of Art and the Building for the Arts.

Maria Van Laanen, president of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

The 12 Angry Men reading with an all-female cast was first done in New York a year ago. It drew such a buzz that organizers floated the idea of stretching it across the country.

“When I heard talk in New York about this program and what it achieved when it was done a year ago, and the fact that they were going to try to make it a nationwide effort, it just really rang true to me,” Van Laanen said. “It is so important that we understand that one voice does make a difference, and we need to make sure we are finding a place where we can speak our mind and yet be open to being influenced by other people.

“And 12 Angry Men is a great example of that. You have 12 people with divergent views coming in and really working through, conversationally, how you discuss differing views, and then take that information and find a consensus.”

The League of Women Voters is partnering with the Appleton effort. Attendees will have an opportunity to register to vote or confirm their voter registration information at the April 6 event.

These are fractious political times. Advocating for participation in the process, for sharing your voice in constructive conversation, for raising your hand to participate is part of the message coming from the 12,000 Voices project.

“One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Tennessee Williams when he talks about theater being truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion,” Privatt said. “To me, that’s the heart of theater right there. Whatever it is, whether it’s a happy story or a sad story, whether it’s a rip-you-to-shreds kind of story, once we put it into the fictional, all of a sudden, it’s a little bit more palatable. And this feels like one of those moments where we can absolutely use the pleasant disguise of illusion to talk about something that is really central to who we are as a nation, and who we perhaps aspire to be.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

On Stage

What: 12 Angry Men, a reading performed by 12 impassioned women, part of the nationwide 12,000 Voices project

When: 3 p.m. Saturday, April 6

Where: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, downtown Appleton

Cost: Free (RSVP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/400996640712037/ or at http://foxcitiespac.com/events-tickets/tickets/events/12,000-voices

More information on 12,000 Voices: https://12000voices.com/

Lawrence theatre arts dept. presents “Love and Information”

The myriad of ways people long for, share and interpret today’s constant bombardment of data and information gets a rapid-fire treatment in Lawrence University’s production of award-winning British playwright Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information.”

A scene from the play "Love and Information"
Hotel housekeeper Erin McCammond-Watts (left) convinces fellow housekeeper Caro Granner to share a secret about something she did in that room. Photo by Billy Liu.

Four performances will be staged in Stansbury Theater May 10-12 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 3. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Written in 2012, the “play” is actually a series of more than 60 thought-provoking scenes and vignettes, some of which are less than a minute long, featuring 17 actors portraying a dizzying array of questioning, frustrated characters. Each explores how we communicate with the people we love, covering the spectrum of human emotions, from comic to tragic.

Known for her minimalist style, Churchill provides dialogue, divided into small, titled scenes that are further grouped into sections, but without location, character names or character relationships. Churchill puts the onus of the details on the production team.

“I told the cast Caryl Churchill looked at life and distilled it down to the equivalent of a stick figure drawing,’” said Kathy Privatt, James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theatre arts, who is directing the production. “Our job as a production team is to create fully-fleshed people in situations, all the while knowing that as specific as we are, each audience member may see or hear something different because ‘information’ just isn’t that concrete.

A scene from the play "Love and Information"
After learning back-yard gardener Xi (Zoey) Lin (left) had phoned in an anonymous tip to the police, family member Dana Cordry is convinced they’ll have to move or hide.

According to Privatt, the play invites the audience to be part of the production by bringing themselves, their experiences and their perceptions to see what they see.

“We’re actively making meaning and asking the audience to do the same – just like we do every day in our lives,” said Privatt. “And just maybe, we’ll recognize ourselves, or remember a time, or understand an encounter a little differently after we share this time in the theatre together.”

Privatt noted that since the play was selected for performance last spring, world events have refocused our national attention on information.

“I assume our audiences may bring some of those perspectives to the performance,” said Privatt.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.