Date of Thesis
Twelve Angry Men: A Twenty-First Century Reflection of Race, Art and Incarceration is a Comparative and Digital Humanities Honors Thesis concentrating on Africana Studies, theatre, sociology and legal studies to demonstrate the importance of investing in incarcerated communities through theatre and education.
In Chapter I, I critique the loss of identity attached to incarceration, and introduce the foundation for Black bodies individuals being discriminated against in the prosecution system. I analyze the “Punishment vs Progress” mentality, and introduce current educational programs in place in prisons. I elaborate on the details of our production, as well as the makeup of actors. An inside student closes the chapter with remarks of his own personal experience as an actor in the production.
In Chapter II, I dissect the “cast list” of the criminal prosecution system (the prosecutor, defense attorney, and jury) and analyze the ways in which these roles coexist. I critique the “white knight, win-at-all-costs” mentality of prosecution, and offer the history of the criminal prosecution system to reinforce my sentiment that an all-white, anti-Black force of “justice” can never be just.
In Chapter III, I analyze the data of incarceration rates, Black incarceration, and the discrimination of conviction. Bail money is explained and criticized, and the costs of mass incarceration are highlighted. Solutions to mass incarceration are explained, and they include the elimination of prosecutor “tunnel vision” and eliminating the prosecutor attitudes of the previous chapter. The chapter concludes with experiences from an inside student.
In Chapter IV, I disclose the costs of a Broadway production and the compensation of artists. Then, the anti-Blackness of compensation and opportunity is critiqued. Black theatre, enterpainment, and trauma are all analyzed, and the experience of Hamilton’s Daniel James Belnavis is analyzed. The chapter highlights the exclusion of actors based on race, gender, and sexuality and compares Hamilton to Twelve Angry Men. The chapter concludes with noting the effects of casting and the intentional or unintentional meaning of representation on stage.
In Chapter V, I conclude that change cannot happen without definitive action. Reform prosecution in conjunction with education and theatre programs will lower recidivism rates and better society.
reform, theatre, prosecution, prison, incarceration, sociology
Bachelor of Arts
Theatre & Dance
Gross, Mackenzie A., "Twelve Angry Men: A Twenty-First Century Reflection of Race, Art, and Incarceration" (2021). Honors Theses. 557.
Africana Studies Commons, Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory Commons, Legal Studies Commons, Performance Studies Commons, Race and Ethnicity Commons, Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance Commons, Social Justice Commons