Twelve Angry Men
(Play by Reginald Rose)


The Ghost of Tallapoosa Hall Strikes Again?

Story By

John Nixon('80)


Paul Tate (LWMA Faculty 1965-1983)

From: John Nixon('80)
To: Phil Potts('63)
Date: 10/10/99 4:27 PM

This is a story that I am sure Major Paul Tate will also shed some "light" on.

One of the four years of my enrollment at Lyman Ward, "Twelve Angry Men" was chosen for the years theatrical production. For those of you who don't know, this is about a jury that decides the fate of an accused murderer. This was a change from the normal choice of musicals. Major Tate never said if it was because of our singing or if he just needed a break from the normal routine.

As I remember it, the cast was comprised of quite a few football players and I am sure we were better under stadium lights than we were under house lights. I remember being chosen to play the trouble maker of the jurors. Maybe Major Tate was trying to tell me something. But I can always remember him saying that acting is about being someone else, so maybe not. Anyhow, on the last night of the production, Mike Lamond('80) recited his lines and angrily pounded on the table in the jury room. To all of our surprise, the light fixture that was hanging above the table on the set fell straight down into the middle of the table shattering into a million pieces. There was a gasp from the audience and a high pitched shriek as well. I still believe to this day that the shriek came from Paul Tate.

Well we were stunned for a second but somehow were able to keep our composure and continue our performance. But I still wonder to this day, was it a ghost?, fate?, or Major Tate! Shed some "light" on this Paul!

From: Paul Tate (PAULTATE)
To: John Nixon
10/12/99 1:48 pm

Every play or musical that I produced and directed at Lyman Ward was a huge success directly because of exceptional actors like John Nixon. These cadets initially had no idea that they could be good at being "someone else," even for a moment on a custom built stage in Tallapoosa Hall. What a surprise to themselves, their families, and their fellow cadets.

The light fixture that John references was a part of the set, used more for decor, mood, and set design than for lighting. It was a relatively large ceiling fixture, hanging on the end of a "dropchain," with the huge milky glass "globe" covering entirely the naked light bulb inside. You've seen the type as well as you might expect to see in an old, pre-florescent jury room. Because every detail must be looked after (the cast and crew of my performances always called me picky and Mr. Perfectionist), I insisted that the bulb in that fixture be replaced with a brand new one since I would not want the one there (that had been used for two or three nights previously) to burn out in the middle of a performance. (After all, the script did not call for, nor had we practiced for, the replacement of the bulb in the jury room by a custodian!) The play must go on, and would have.

Apparently, when the globe was returned, it was not tightened properly, so that, during the performance that John references, the heat from the bulb as well as the external stage lighting caused the globe to turn loose, and sure enough, it fell down into the middle of the jury table.

The shriek was probably from me. I don't remember. What I do remember is that other than the momentary surprise from the crash, the players proceeded as if nothing had happened, despite a slight nick from flying glass that hit Mike Lamond's arm or was it John Nixon's? Shortly thereafter, when I was confident that the show would go on, which it always did, I slipped out of the back of the "auditorium" and literally rolled in the grass with laughter. That mirth has brought cause to believe that I had booby-trapped that fixture! Nothing could be further from the truth! Beliefs still persist.

Thanks, John, for helping me to recall one of the many, many wonderful and appreciative moments of my days at Lyman Ward.

Complied by Brian V. Brunner('64)

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