A.C.T. joins nationwide productions of the landmark marriage equality play by the
Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Milk, Sunday, October 7, 2012.
American Conservatory Theater(A.C.T.), in association with the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, is proud to announce a one-night-only staged reading of “8,” the landmark play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8. The play was written by Academy Award–winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black.
The reading will take place on Sunday, October 7, 2012, at 7 p.m. at the American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco). Proceeds from the reading benefit AFER and LGBTQ youth participating in A.C.T.’s ArtReach program, which offers free student matinee tickets and theater-based pre- and post-show workshops at no cost to 23 public high schools in the Bay Area (including all 18 San Francisco public high schools) with large populations of underserved, low-income students who otherwise would have little exposure to the arts. Casting for the A.C.T. production of “8” will be announced at a later date. Tickets range in price from $50 to $100. A limited number of $250 seats are available and include premium seating and access to a post-performance reception with the cast. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at act-sf.org or by calling 415.749.2228.
“8” is an unprecedented account of the federal district court trial Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8. Black, who penned the Academy Award–winning feature film Milk and the critically acclaimed film J. Edgar, based “8” on the actual trial transcripts, firsthand observations of what went on in the courtroom, and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: “There’s nothing more thrilling than a well-argued trial about a hugely important issue. We are honored to present “8” at the same time as The Normal Heart, two theater pieces that wrestle with discrimination and compassion in such visceral and palpable ways.”
“From the moment we knew our trial would not be broadcast publicly, we were determined to find a way to address the public’s appetite for the facts in our case, as argued before a court of law,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. “‘8’ does exactly that, and more, shedding light on the discriminatory arguments anti-marriage proponents did not want the American court of public opinion to witness, and clearly demonstrating why our fight for fairness and justice will continue to prevail.”
“I was lucky enough to watch the initial closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in San Francisco,” says Broadway Impact cofounder Rory O’Malley (Tony nominee for The Book of Mormon). “We knew then and there that audiences needed to see and hear this story live, as we had done. ‘8’ builds on a successful tradition of documentary theater—plays likeThe Laramie Project and The Vagina Monologues, which inspire us with their combination of art and activism. We are thrilled to partner with AFER to bring this story to a national audience.”
The plot of “8” is framed by the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010 and features the strongest arguments and testimony from both sides. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of the 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.”
“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,” says Black. “I’ve built my career around exposing and uncovering ‘the real story.’ The goal of ‘8’ is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right and that those who would deny this basic freedom from loving, committed couples have only vitriol and baseless hyperbole to fall back on. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. We are doing all we can to help speed that process along.”
“8” had its heralded world premiere on Broadway on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O’Neill Theater in New York City. The production brought in over one million dollars to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality. “8” recently had its West Coast premiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, where it featured an all-star cast, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, John C. Reilly, and Kevin Bacon.
Proposition 8 was struck down by a federal district court in August 2010. That decision was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8. AFER’s legal team was at the Ninth Circuit in December 2011 for a hearing to urge the court to unseal the trial video—a request that was denied. In February 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the federal district court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.