By Stephen Kane
Headquartered in St. Mary Hall, Villanova Student Theatre prepares their most polished production yet. Located in the same facility used by the musical theatre troupe, the coalition of talent in VST is in no way overshadowed.
The chemistry and dynamics within the crew are showcased with an impressive ease and rhythmic flow, and the dedication of the group is met with much admiration by organizations throughout campus.
Villanova Student Theatre is an entirely student-run organization. A tech crew led by technical director Skye Cardenas makes sure all on-hand operations are running smoothly, including lighting, sound and set.
This spring’s VST production is the timeless classic “Twelve Angry Men.” Originally written in 1954 for television, the courthouse drama depicts the homicide trial of a young man who is accused of murdering his own father. Considering a guilty verdict which calls for a mandatory death penalty, the jury of 12 are positioned in the jury room to try to reach a unanimous decision. When conflict arises over differing verdicts given by the jurors, the personalities of each individual become manifest.
Playing the young accused man, Jake Stienberg is visible throughout the entire show staged on the bench, adding a very interesting atmosphere to each scene. Talent radiates from the actors. An astounding performance is given by actor Austin Haitos in an intense argument between jury members. The 14-member cast works together with grace and harmony, allowing each scene to progress skillfully.
Despite the large cast, “Twelve Angry Men” is visually minimalistic, adding authenticity and uniqueness. The combination of the story and the solid performances transforms the decision-making process into a debate not only about justice but also about equality.
The majority of the play takes place in the cigarette smoke-laden jury room with the 12 jurors centered around a table. The notable set includes curtains, chairs, a clock, a water cooler and a U.S. flag. Casual conversations around the water cooler transpire into thoughts of conspiracy. The simplicity of the stage transports the audience directly into the action of the jury room.
Between practices and rehearsals the cast members entertain each other, ask for cough drops, and enjoy each other’s company. In the midst of the fun, when it comes time to rehearse, each member efficiently gets right to his or her lines and enters the atmosphere of the scene.
In accordance with the directors’ guidance and criticism, the cast runs through each scene with precision. Although they make it look easy, countless hours of hard work have obviously been offered in preparation.
The VST cast has been rehearsing since mid-January for the show and their preparation is fantastically entertaining. Dress rehearsals start this week, finalizing the production for its debut.
“For the student theatre this is a large cast, and the minimalistic theme of the production adds for a very realistic effect,” Cardenas says.
Although the play may have been written decades ago, the themes are still applicable today.
“Themes included in the play vary from the American justice system to social prejudice, presented forwardly in the depth between the jurors,” Cardenas says.
“Twelve Angry Men” is a gripping drama filled with conspiracy, justice and equality with a focus on the truthfulness of human interaction, nature and the intrinsic values of every individual.
Villanova Student Theatre’s spring opening night will be Tuesday, March 19 and the show will also be performed March 20, 21, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. in the Auditorium in St. Mary Hall. There is also an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 23. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 for the public.