French Toast: 12 Angry Yukon Men

There is no doubt; the man is guilty of parricide. Eleven members of the jury are convinced that he has to die. One is not.

How does one man convince the rest of a jury that he has some serious objections to finding this man guilty, and that he might be right?

For its fifth production, Association Théâtre Art-Lequin presents 12 Angry Men / 12 hommes en colère, the stage version of Sydney’s Lumet’s interesting and challenging 1957 film,based on a teleplay by Reginald Rose.

The association is the only company to present adult francophone theatre in the Territory. 12 Angry Men is played entirely in both French and English. The sentences are not simultaneously translated, but some part of the text is in French and others in English.

“It’s so not easy for the actors to speak English for a part of the text, and then, the sentence after, have to speak in French,” director Pierre Gauthier says.

“I chose to present this piece in the two languages because Yukon is a bilingual territory and it depicts really well the reality we live in.

“The play is also for everyone and I wanted to attract the Anglophone audience as much as the Francophone. We don’t want to play only for our community, we want everyone to enjoy the Francophone theatre.”

Gauthier is a founding founder member of the association. In a previous life, he experienced the world of the amateur theatre in Quebec.

“I was a member of the Fédération de Théâtre amateur du Québec. The actors we work with in this kind of art will not play forever: being an actor is not their work. So after two or three experiences, they are not coming back,” Gauthier says.

“Then we have to look for other actors. This is how it works; there are waves of actors. We don’t form actors, we offer them an experience.”

12 Angry Men – sometimes renamed 12 Angry Jurors when the cast includes women – is frequently used in leadership classes in university. It explains the concept of archetypes and power relationships, the director explains.

Indeed, the experience is unique for the non-professional actors who agreed to play the game and give their time to experiment with something different. They are bankers, musician, people with jobs during the day who become part-time actors just for the fun of it.

“What is hard is to find a schedule of rehearsals that works for everyone. It’s a real puzzle,” Gauthier says.

“Also, we are asking them for a real actor’s performance: they are onstage the whole time and they constantly have to stay focussed on the action,” he adds.

“It’s a great team. We didn’t do auditions, we just approached most of them because we knew them and we were convinced that they would do a wonderful job. So far we’re right: the performances they are offering literally cut our breath away.”

And what’s next for Association Théâtre Art-Lequin?

“In September, we’re planning to present Bad Hair Day, a play for kids, because our association is also responsible for the Théâtre de la Pastèque, which presents theatre for children” says the director.

12 Angry Men will be presented May 31 and June 1 at 8pm at the Yukon Arts Centre.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tabs on events in Yukon’s Francophone community.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.

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