Twelve Angry Men (play)

Twelve Angry Men is a play by Reginald Rose adapted from his 1954 teleplay of the same title for the CBS Studio One anthology television series. Staged first in San Francisco in 1955, the Broadway debut came 50 years after CBS aired the play, on October 28, 2004, by the Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre, where it ran for 328 performances.

Written byReginald Rose
Place premieredThe juror's room
Original languageEnglish
SubjectA courthouse drama: a boy's life at stake in the hands of the jury
Setting1954, late summer in a court jury room, New York City, New York

Characters and story


The drama depicts a jury deliberating a verdict in a murder trial, in which the case at hand pertains to whether a young man murdered his own father. The story begins after closing arguments have been presented in the case, as the judge is giving his instructions to the jury. As in most American criminal cases, the twelve men must unanimously decide on a verdict of "guilty" or "not guilty". (In the justice systems of nearly all American states, failure to reach a unanimous verdict, a so-called "hung jury", results in a mistrial.) The jury is further instructed that a guilty verdict will be accompanied by a mandatory death sentence.

In the jury room, the first vote is a nearly unanimous decision of guilty, with a single "undecided" dissenter, who throughout the deliberations sows a seed of reasonable doubt. The jurors become acquainted with the personalities of their peers. Several of them have different reasons for discriminating against the defendant: his race, his background, and the troubled relationship between one juror and his own son. The one dissenter gradually wins over the other jurors to a unanimous not-guilty verdict, by questioning the reliability of the evidence presented in court and exposing his fellow jurors' prejudices.

The characters are unnamed; throughout their deliberation, not a single juror calls another by his name, and they are identified in the script merely by number.


The play by the Ljubljana Drama Theatre in 1959

Rose wrote several variations on his own stage adaptation of the teleplay.

Dramatic rights to the film were sold and several versions based on the film were staged. It was staged in San Francisco in 1955[1] and in Europe in 1958, including an adaptation by Andre Obey in Paris.[2]

In 1964, Leo Genn appeared in the London production, directed by Margaret Webster. For other theatrical adaptations, wherein female actors are cast, the play is often retitled 12 Angry People or 12 Angry Jurors.

Harold Pinter directed a production of the play, which opened at the Bristol Old Vic on March 7, 1996.[3] With set design by Eileen Diss, lighting design by Mick Hughes, and costume design by Tom Rand, its cast included Stuart Rayner (Juror 1, Foreman), Kevin Dignam (Juror 2), Tony Haygarth (Juror 3), Timothy West (Juror 4), Maurice Kaufmann (Juror 5), Douglas McFerran (Juror 6), Tim Healy (Juror 7), Kevin Whately (Juror 8), Alan MacNaughtan (Juror 9), Peter Vaughan (Juror 10), Robert East (Juror 11), Christopher Simon (Juror 12), Joshua Losey (Guard), and E. G. Marshall, as the Voice of the Judge.[3] Marshall had portrayed "#4" in Sidney Lumet's 1957 film version of the play. The production transferred to the Comedy Theatre in London the same year.

In 2003, the British producer/director Guy Masterson directed an all comedian revival[4] at the Assembly Rooms including Bill Bailey as Juror 4, Phil Nichol as Juror 10, Owen O'Neill as Juror 8, Stephen Frost as Juror 3 and Russell Hunter as Juror 9 during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which broke the existing box office record for drama at the Fringe Festival and garnered much critical acclaim.[5]

The Roundabout Theatre Company presented a Broadway production of the play in 2004, starring Boyd Gaines as a more combative Juror 8, with James Rebhorn (Juror 4), Philip Bosco (Juror 3), and Robert Prosky as the Voice of the Judge. Prosky had starred as "#3" in a Washington D.C. production of the show, opposite Roy Scheider as "#8" and Rene Auberjonois as "#5".

In 2005, the British producer/director Guy Masterson directed a hugely successful Australian version of his hit Edinburgh 2003 production produced by Arts Projects Australia and Adrian Bohm[6] at QPAC Brisbane, Sydney Theatre and Melbourne Athenaeum including Shane Bourne as Juror 3, Peter Phelps as Juror 4, Marcus Graham as Juror 8, George Kapiniaris as Juror 2 and Henri Szeps as Juror 9.[7] This production won three Melbourne Green Room Awards and a nomination for "Best Play" at the Helpmann Awards.

Actors perform the mixed-gender version "Twelve Angry Jurors" at a community theatre in North Carolina

In 2007, L.A. Theatre Works presented a production of the play that was recorded as an audiobook; directed by John de Lancie, the cast included Dan Castellaneta, Jeffrey Donovan, Héctor Elizondo, Robert Foxworth, James Gleason, Kevin Kilner, Richard Kind, Alan Mandell, Rob Nagle, Armin Shimerman, Joe Spano, and Steve Vinovich.[8]

The London West End production opened in November 2013 (running until March 1, 2014) at the Garrick Theatre. Directed by Christopher Haydon, the cast included Martin Shaw, Robert Vaughn, Jeff Fahey, Nick Moran, Robert Blythe, Miles Richardson and Martin Turner.[9]

In 2014, Independent Theatre Pakistan performed an adaptation of this play at Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore, directed by Azeem Hamid.[10]

Screen adaptations


A 1954 television production for Studio One


Sweeney and Voskovec repeated their parts in the 1957 film.

A 1957 feature film adaptation, produced and written by Rose himself, and directed by Sidney Lumet. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.


A 1997 feature film adaptation, directed by William Friedkin.


12. A 2007 film adaptation. Director Nikita Michalkov


Awards and nominations


2004 Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2005 Tony Award Best Revival of a Play Nominated
Best Actor in a Play Philip Bosco Nominated
Best Direction of a Play Scott Ellis Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Play Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Philip Bosco Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Play Scott Ellis Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Revival of a Play Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Philip Bosco Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Revival of a Play Won

See also



  1. ^ Cone, Theresa Loeb (December 10, 1955). "'Twelve Angry Men' Drama Staged at S.F." Oakland Tribune. p. 4. Retrieved September 6, 2021 – via
  2. ^ Hy Hollinger (December 24, 1958). "Telecast and Theatre Film, Looks As If '12 Angry Men' May Reap Most Dough As Legit Play". Variety. p. 5. Retrieved May 21, 2019 – via
  3. ^ a b "Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, The Bristol Old Vic, 7 March 1996". Harold Pinter. March 7, 1996. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
  4. ^ Theatre Tours International Past Shows
  5. ^ Edinburgh Festival Fringe,
  6. ^ Theatre Tours International Past Shows
  7. ^ Guy Masterson's Australian Production of 12 Angry Men
  8. ^ "Twelve Angry Men". DC Public Library. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
  9. ^ Mountford, Fiona (November 12, 2013). "Twelve Angry Men, Garrick Theatre - review". London Evening Standard. Alexander Lebedev/Evgeny Lebedev/Daily Mail and General Trust. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  10. ^ "Pakistan Today Paperazzi Issue #25". issuu. February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  11. ^ Studio One In Hollywood: "Twelve Angry Men", IMDb

Further reading