, Newburyport, MA


May 29, 2014

Serving up justice

Actors Studio's 'Twelve Angry Women' a twist on the classic courtroom drama


Bonder is one of three founders of Shine Productions, which has partnered with The Actors Studio for this production, their fourth in four years.

“Twelve Angry Women” has been a teleplay, a screenplay and a stage play under another name: “Twelve Angry Men.” Written by Reginald Rose, it was first broadcast as a teleplay in 1954 and then a popular movie starring Henry Fonda in 1957. It was later made into a stage play by Rose and Sherman L. Sergel. In 1983, the two adapted the show for an all-women cast.

According to Isbell, although the costumes and the absence of air conditioning are signs of the times, the themes are “timeless.” Only the pronouns and some of the slang have been changed for women.

“This is a portrayal of what happens in every jury room,” she said. “If it was written today, the costumes would be different and the language would be different, but humans haven’t changed.”

Of course, women may play it differently.

“Characters are more relational with (an all-women) cast,” Bonder said. “The women are more likely to want to heal the relationships among the jurors.”

Bonder and Astrid Lorentzson, another founder of Shine Productions, chose “Twelve Angry Women” in part because of the number of female roles it offered.

“There are a lot of women who are great actors and not enough roles to go around,” Bonder said. “The mission of Shine Productions is to provide strong roles for women. We are building community and inclusion. We want to include people who don’t necessarily get the opportunity to practice the art of theater.”

When Bonder and Lorentzson approached Isbell to serve as director, they had already cast the play. This gave Isbell pause.

“Half of the director’s job is to cast a play,” Isbell said. “But when I met the cast, I was convinced. They did as good a job (casting) as I would have done.

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