The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, has announced a one-night-only reading of "8," a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black.
The reading will be held at 8:30 p.m. tonight, August 5 in the New Theatre. Tickets are $5.00 and will go to support the American Foundation for Equal rights. Tickets are available at the OSF Box Office by calling 1-800-219-8161, or order online.
The production will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. AFER Plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier will be present on the panel.
“8” is an account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry. “8” is based on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
The story for “8” is framed by the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the best arguments and testimony from both sides. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by the Proposition 8 supporters’ star witness, David Blankenhorn, that “we would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”
“Inspired by the historical significance of the case and the resonance with our production of The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa, we felt we must engage with this piece of theater,” Associate Producer Claudia Alick said. “Collaborating with Alison Carey, director of American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, was the next logical step. The reading will take place on the set of Party People, an American Revolutions commission, and like “8,” another theatre piece exploring times of change and growth in the U.S.”
The OSF cast features: Richard Howard, Cristofer Jean, Jackie Katzman, Christopher Livingston, Jadele McPherson, DeLanna Studi, Lisa Tejero, Matthew Whitfield, and others to be announced soon.
“8” had its much-heralded Broadway world premiere on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City. The production brought in over $1 million to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.
“8” had its West Coast premiere reading at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles. The reading featured an all-star cast led by Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt, Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen. The benefit reading was directed by AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner, and raised more than $2 million for the fight to secure full federal marriage equality.
“People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter,” said AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black. “The goal of ‘8’ is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. AFER and Broadway Impact are doing all we can to help speed that process along.”
On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark decision upholding the historic August 2010 ruling of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit concluded:
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”