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十二怒汉 Twelve Angry Men

March 11, 2013
by

12AngryMen

Event: Twelve Angry Men 十二怒汉 by Nine Years Theatre (九年剧场)
Series: Huayi Festival 2013
Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio
Run: 15-17 Feb 2013
Written by Reginald Rose
Translated/Directed by: Nelson Chia 谢燊杰

In the wake of experiencing the discourse, I had come into the theatre thinking that the jury system depicted was a reference to the now abolished jury system of Singapore  (before 1964), despite the original setting in America, based on the time period. Thus, I did not sense any irrelevance of this system, which formed part of the discussion in the post-show dialogue.

Maybe it was a good thing that it didn’t cross my mind, because in any case, whether it was a jury system or not, the setting or time period was not of consequence, as the social issues addressed still applies till this day, and in every country, maybe to different extents. You had the new citizen who tries to fit into the community and who tries to contribute to society; you have the heavily biased snob who treats the poor or slump-born as dirt or savages; the fence-sitter who sways to the majority vote; the poor who made good; the resentful/broken-hearted who brings in his emotional baggage in his judgement; and of course the logical mind who gave good arguments and started the whole contention and eventually convincing all (almost) to change their votes. Interesting at how these people exist in our society and how each individual’s biases or even indifference would shape a conviction and determine the life and death of someone else, whether figuratively or literally.
How scary it is, as Nelson mentioned, that a person’s fate is determined by 12 people in the jury system, and now in Singapore, by 1 man. Although contentious for some, the latter seems a bit more objective as technically, he would through his legal training, better evaluate evidence to make the judgement. However, what is circumstantial and circumstance? How solid is an argument and subjective is it?

Another note here is the demonstration of the flexibility of theatre in its ability to address issues across time and space, and in different contexts such as this to provoke thought. A commendable first outing by Nine Years Theatre.

Maybe to end off, if you asked me at the end of the day if I thought the boy was guilty, I would say I don’t know, but it was not beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty, for that was what the jury had to prove, disregarding their biases or background. I personally thought that the 疑点 could be questioned and a re-trial carried out. But through this, the flaws of being human is displayed, but it is what make us human. A good thing there is the appeal system available, which interestingly, might overturn the first conviction. Unpredictable isn’t it?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 26, 2013 10:14 am

    A Good Reflective piece, Ilkosa! =)

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