WILLIAMSON — A new performing arts company based in Mingo County will perform a stage version of the murder-mystery drama “12 Angry Men” at the historic Williamson Fieldhouse this weekend.
The show will be one of the first for the Appalachian Players Guild, which was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help and partnership of the Williamson Parks and Recreation Board, the company decided to put on a stage production of “12 Angry Men,” a classic courtroom and murder-mystery drama originally released as a theatrical film in 1957.
The show’s director, Curtis Crum, a veteran of theatrical productions in the region, said the show was chosen for its theme of judging facts.
“At the end of the day, we thought that we needed to do something that dealt with the way people see facts — the way people present facts and the way people perceive the truth,” Crum said. “It may be a timely thing, so we decided to do that now and with ’12 Angry Men,’ we found that’s the best show that we’ve seen that can really bring that out and forward to people.”
Crum said the show follows much like the plot of the film.
“It’s one set — once it starts, it starts. You are there, you are in it, and it does not end,” Crum said. “We start with a council of 12 people, a regular jury, well and true as one would say, and they are arguing over the life of a young boy who has supposedly killed his father. They have the facts, now they have to get them straight and find out if they are right. This boy’s life hangs in the balance and throughout the course of the show, we see 11 men change their views. The facts never change, but their views change, so we start the show out with one person against 11, and we end the show out with 11 people against one.”
The show’s cast consists of about half Logan County and half Mingo County residents, with one from Kanawha County. Crum said the goal of the Appalachian Players Guild is to bring the theatre experience closer to home in Mingo County, noting that Logan County has an established theatre presence.
“Our post office is still in Dingess right now, so this is technically a Mingo County organization and that’s how we wanted to run it, because we felt like there were enough organizations in Logan County; we didn’t want to saturate the market over there any more,” Crum said. “We felt that Mingo County needed good family theatre, and that’s why we’re here, and it’s not just for Mingo County, but we’re definitely a Mingo County company and we want to see southern West Virginia and Mingo County really prosper and flourish.”
“12 Angry Men” will be performed at the historic Williamson Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3. Admission is $12, but $2 may be taken off the price of admission if a can of food is donated, as the organization is participating in an initiative with Williamson Parks and Recreation called the Great Thanks-Giveback.
Jarrod Dean, director of the Williamson Parks and Recreation Board, said the show is one of the ways the Fieldhouse is diversifying its offerings.
“This facility is turning into a multipurpose recreational facility/culture center,” Dean said. “The shows that we’re having with AMCO, other concerts that we’re bringing in, and now we’re bringing in drama productions and plays. It’s just showing that Parks is on the move with diversifying different events for our community, and we’re real excited about that. We’re real excited to partner with them for this first show, and I’m hoping that it will continue.”
Dean said the Parks Board has also announced plans of putting in an amphitheater at the old pool property just down the block from the Fieldhouse. Dean said such an amphitheater can further provide opportunities for organizations like the Appalachian Players Guild.