Juror 4 (Will Chappell) jumps in to keep Juror 3 (Susanna Latner), left, from attacking Juror 8 (Natalie Bowers) during a rehearsal scene from Tupelo High School Theatre's production of "12 Angry Jurors." 

TUPELO • Behind their masks, a dozen Tupelo High School theatre students will become "12 Angry Jurors" next week.

The students will perform their stage adaptation of "12 Angry Men" six times between April 15-18. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the THS Fine Arts Auditorium will be limited assigned seating to 25% capacity (41 people) per performance.

Even with the masks and reduced audience, THS theatre teacher Allana Austin said the production will cap a productive year for her students.

"Creatively, it's been a great year," Austin said. "The kids have had to adjust and adapt."

Austin said the students took the stage for performances in September, November and February. They were recorded and can be seen on the Theatre Department's Vimeo page. A couple of the shows were limited to parents.

"They really got into writing their own shows," she said. "We know the public has watched it, but it's not like the instant gratification of having an audience."

"12 Angry Jurors" takes the original 1954 teleplay by Reginald Rose and turns it into a courtroom drama with men and women trying to decide the fate of a young man accused of murder. Austin said this is the third time in her 21 years at THS Theatre that "12 Angry Jurors" has been performed.

"This will be the first time jurors 3 and 8, who are the biggest antagonists to each other, are women," Austin said. "The cast is a nice mix of our talent. Students from all grades and all levels to theatre."

Susanna Latner (Juror 3) and Natalie Bowers (Juror 8) will perform those key roles. The remaining jurors are Alicia Goss, Laura Layton, Will Chappell, Kelvin Sepulveda, Elana Dearing, William Strickland, Caleb Bowers, Shelby Seals, Gabby Adams and Adria Adams.

With the students wearing masks on stage, Austin said she's encouraging them to "ramp up" physically as they perform their characters.

"Wearing the masks adds to the tension, the anxiety we're feeling these days," she said. "You have to communicate more so with body language because we have these masks on our faces."

Adria Adams, a THS senior who plays Juror 12, said body language will be important for her character. 

"My character doesn't really talk that much," she said. "So, if I just stood still, I would lose my personality. You have to show how your character feels about what's going on and how they react. You can't use your mouth, so it's in the eyes, the eyebrows and hand gestures."

Performance times are 7 p.m. all four days and 2 p.m. shows April 17-18.

Call (662) 840-1841 to reserve tickets for a specific performance. Tickets are $6 per person upon arrival. No walk-ups will be admitted.

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