Pupils explore complexities of death penalty in school play

The cast of 12 Angry Jurors,which will be staged by Rustenburg Girls and Rondebosch Boys high schools.

Two Rondebosch schools are collaborating to stage a play that explores the moral complexities of the death penalty.

Rustenburg Girls’ High School (RGHS) and Rondebosch Boys’ High have spent five months preparing for the opening night of 12 Angry Jurors on Wednesday July 31.

The production is adapted from Twelve Angry Men, a play by Reginald Rose, adapted from his 1954 teleplay of the same title.

The 12 characters – known only by their juror numbers – are deliberating on a verdict during a murder trial in an American court.

Eight RGHS pupils and six Rondebosch Boys’ pupils make up the cast.

Nicole Smith,17, plays Juror 8, a woman from Texas.

“She definitely feels that we need to speak about everything about all the facts and opinions with everyone in the room to understand the case better before jumping into our own opinions,” she said.

Nicole previously appeared in A Midsummers Night’s Dream – another collaboration between the two schools – last year and Dirty Laundry the year before.

Myra Parolis, 17, plays Juror 1, a woman from the Bronx and the jury foreman.

“She likes the fact that she is in charge. She is straightforward and wants order amongst the other jurors,” she said.

Gabriella Sancho, 18, who played the magical character of Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, now plays Juror 4, a woman from California.

“My character sees herself above the other jurors. She is not concerned about the moral issue of death, she is more concerned about letting someone who murdered someone else free when they can be guilty.”

George du Plooy, 17, who collaborated with the girls’ school on the A Midsummer Night’s Dream production last year, plays Juror 11. He said 12 Angry Jurors was challenging, but the cast had formed a tight bond and had fun.

Kevin Jenkins, head of culture at Rondebosch Boys’, said it was exciting to see the production morph from its early stages into a polished performance.

“The actors are amazingly dedicated,” he said.

Adrian Skelly, head of arts at RGHS, said he wanted people who saw the play to go away questioning and thinking.

“The production does not offer a solution; we don’t know who lives happily ever after.”

12 Angry Jurors will play at Memorial Hall, Rondebosch Boys’ High School from Wednesday July 31 to Saturday August 3, at 7pm. Tickets cost R80 and can be booked through Quicket.