Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Shoestring Productions offers one-night-only chance to see "8," Dustin Lance Black's new play

READING – Shoestring Productions in association with the Miller Center at RACC, with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact, will present 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. Proceeds from the production will be donated to AFER to aid in the ongoing legal battle.

“8” is an unprecedented 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.

Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film "Milk" and the film "J. Edgar," based “8” on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.  

“8” will be performed at the Miller Center for the Arts at RACC on Friday, July 13 at 8 p.m. Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.racc.edu/MillerCenter (on the “Events” page) or by phone at 610-607-6270. They may also be purchased in person at the Miller Center box office, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The box office opens one hour prior to performance. The Miller Center is located at 4 North Second St., Reading, 19601

Shoestring’s production of “8” will feature many local theatrical notables, including John Gancar, Richard Bradbury, Chuck Gallagher, Kathy Newville, Maria Damore, Daniel Smith, and Kirk Lawrence (who also directs). The cast will also include community leader, Fred Opalinski, Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran in Reading. The cast will take part in the post-show talkback, which will be led by Ted Martin, Executive Director of Equality PA.

“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 Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles.  The West Coast premiere reading of “8” featured an all-star cast led by Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt as United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker; and Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen as Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson.  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.”

Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing “8” for free to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding.  Most productions will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.

“My partner and I were united by a Unitarian Universalist minister, in front of family and friends, on January 11, 2000 in New York City,” said director, Kirk Lawrence. “While we have considered ourselves married for these last 12 years, our government has not, and therefore we are denied those basic protections and rights that straight married couples take for granted. I hope that presenting this important piece will open some minds regarding Marriage Equality. I see definite signs of the tide turning in equality’s favor; we would just like to help nudge it along a little faster.”

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.”

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.”

To purchase tickets, call 610-607-6270, or visit http://www.racc.edu/MillerCenter (“Event” page) For information on how your local theater can produce “8, visit: www.8theplay.com

Follow “8”on Twitter: @8theplay or on Facebook.

Clerk                                                                                       Jamie Howard
Broadcast Journalist                                                         Kirk Lawrence
Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker                                      Chuck Gallagher
Theodore B. Olson (Plaintiffs’ attorney)                      John Gancar
David Boies (Plaintiffs’ attorney)                                   Fred Opalinski
Charles J. Cooper (Proponents’ attorney)                    Daniel Smith
Jeff Zarrillo (Plaintiff)                                                       Michael Steven Contreras
Paul Katami (Plaintiff)                                                      Dallas Mugno
Sandy Stier (Plaintiff)                                                        Maria Damore
Kris Perry (Plaintiff)                                                          Kathy Newville
Elliott (Kris & Sandy’s son)                                             Brandon Reimer
Spencer (Kris & Sandy’s son)                                          Daniel Graf
Dr. Nancy Cott (Plaintiffs’ witness)                              Kathy Hoffman
Maggie Gallagher (Marriage equality opponent)      Susan Sneeringer
Dr. Ilan Meyer (Plaintiffs’ witness)                              Michael Harbach
Ryan Kendall (Plaintiffs’ witness)                                Corey Buller
Dr. Gregory Herek (Plaintiffs’ witness)                       Fr. Dwayne Messenger
Dr. Gary Segura (Plaintiffs’ witness)                            Herbert Karasin
Dr. William Tam (Prop. 8 proponent)                         Dr. John Manubay
David Blankenhorn (Proponents’ witness)                Richard Bradbury
Evan Wolfson (Marriage equality advocate)               Corey Donchez

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality for all Americans.

Broadway Impact is a grassroots organization of the theatre community and its fans mobilized in support of marriage equality. In direct response to the passage of California’s Proposition 8 in November 2008, Tony Award-nominees Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon) and Gavin Creel (HAIR) and Production Coordinator Jenny Kanelos founded Broadway Impact to engage the theatre community in the fight for marriage equality. Recent initiatives include: contributing to phone bank efforts to win marriage equality in New York State; creating an awareness program that led to a 3,000 piece letter writing campaign; facilitating the attendance of 1,400 supporters to the National Equality March in Washington, D.C.; and producing a rally for over 5,000 attendees in Midtown Manhattan. Broadway Impact is now committed to bringing “8,” a play about Proposition 8 written by Academy Award-winner Dustin Lance Black, to university and community theatres across the country in order to inspire dialogue, understanding and action concerning marriage equality. Broadway Impact was the recipient of the 2009 Human Rights Campaign Community Award and proudly operates under the entity of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.


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