BISMARCK, ND — We’ve all thought it. Who wouldn’t want to be a “fly on the wall,” so to speak, as a jury deliberates the fate of the accused during a high-profile court case? Now theatergoers get their chance as the University of Mary “summons” one and all to its jury-room for the production of “Twelve Angry Jurors,” Thursday, November 19, through Saturday, November 21 in Arno Gustin Hall on campus.

PrintThe production, with showings Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., is based on the classic and gripping 1957 film “12 Angry Men.” This compelling and provocative story surrounds a teenage boy who is on trial for killing his father. His fate, in what appears to be an open-and-shut murder trial that would send the boy to the electric chair with a guilty verdict, is in the hands of 12 jurors deliberating in a small jury-room on a hot summer day.

However, unlike most theater productions, the University of Mary version, directed by Professor of Theater, Dan Bielinski, has a twist unique to members of the audience.

Daniel Bielinski

Daniel Bielinski

“‘12 Angry Jurors’ will be presented as ‘theater-in-the-round,’ which is meant to be an immersive experience for the audience, making them ‘part of the action’ rather than just spectators,” said Bielinski. “I wanted to do a stripped-down, minimalist, immersive production of ‘12 Angry Jurors.’ I wanted to take away anything that might distract the audience from the emotional battles that are taking place between these 12 individuals as they fight over the life of a boy accused of murder. This is an emotional powerhouse of a play, and the “theater-in-the-round” setup and the expressionist, minimalist style is meant to invigorate the production even more. This won’t be a glamorous production. But it will be a moving one.”

Bielinski, an experienced actor and director in New York City (www.danielbielinski.com), has co-starred in HBO’s “The Leftovers” with leading roles in feature films and television pilots while also performing frequently in off-Broadway theatrical productions. He believes this hour and 15-minute production, while it is short compared to many theater performances, will push the cast members to their limits emotionally and physically.

“What is also unique about this play is that it is entirely an ensemble piece,” added Bielinski. “There is no one main character. Every single character – there are 12 – remains on stage the entire time. Every character contributes hugely to the advancement of the story. It’s quite a task to be on-stage for the full length of a show. This is a play in which characters come face to face with their own prejudices and disappointments as they decide whether or not to convict a 16-year-old boy of murder.”

Due to the nature of the seating arrangements for this production, seats are limited to 120 per showing. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and should be reserved by calling (701) 355-8262. University of Mary students, faculty and staff receive one complimentary ticket and can be picked up in the Office of Public Affairs with the showing of their student ID.