Perseverance Theatre Stages Benefit Reading of Dustin Lance Black's '8' Tonight

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Perseverance Theatre, with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights, (AFER) and Broadway Impact, announces a one-night-only staged reading of "8," at 7 pm tonight, April 1 at Centennial Hall in Juneau. The funds raised at this benefit performance will be shared by Perseverance Theatre, Juneau Pride Chorus, and the Pride Foundation. Tickets are now available through Hearthside Books, the JACC, online at perseverancetheatre.org or by calling 907-463-TIXS (8497).

"8" chronicles the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8; it's an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8-the proposition that stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.

Playwright Dustin Lance Black is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member. Black penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the film J. Edgar. He 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.

The cast includes dedicated Juneau artists and activists Bud Carpeneti, Tom Koester, Maureen Longworth, Lin Davis, Ben Brown, and many Perseverance company members. Following the performance, there will be a conversation with the cast and director, Art Rotch.

"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.

"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."

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."

The case is set to go to the Supreme Court March 26th, 2013.

Tickets are now available through Hearthside Books, the JACC, online at perseverancetheatre.org or by calling 907-463-TIXS (8497). This performance is a one-night only event

Perseverance Theatre was founded in 1979 in Juneau. Thirty years later, we've grown into a leading professional theatre in Alaska, recognized both statewide and nationally for our programming, training and development that's reflective of the Alaskan community, including 65 world premieres of plays by Alaskan and national playwrights. Perseverance Theatre's mission is to create professional theatre by and for Alaskans. We value community engagement, professional rigor, and regional voice. Last year, Perseverance launched the initiative to begin performing a season of plays in Anchorage as a resident company in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Find more information on Perseverance Theatre at www.perseverancetheatre.org. You can also follow Perseverance Theatre at facebook.com/PerseveranceTheatre and Twitter.com/PersevTheatreAK

The Juneau Pride Chorus is a chorus of mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers, and grandmothers. Our common bond is a love of singing as we join to celebrate our diversity. Our mission is to be a positive and empowering voice in the community by performing songs which inspire equality for and acceptance of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender people. We are a women's chorus sponsored by PFLAG Juneau (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians & Gays). Individually and collectively we support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, equity, and issues. We are members of the International GALA Choruses (Gay And Lesbian Association of Choruses) and the Sister Singers Network. www.juneaupridechorus.com

Pride Foundation is a donor-supported community foundation providing grants, scholarships, and community leadership in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington State. As a catalyst for change, Pride Foundation supports transformative philanthropy, programs, and individuals that advance equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. For more info visit www.pridefounation.org.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry, 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 case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality for all Americans. www.AFER.org

Broadway Impact is the only grassroots organization of the theatre community and its fans mobilized in support of marriage equality. Tony Award-nominees Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon) and Gavin Creel (HAIR) and Production Coordinator Jenny Kanelos founded the organization in direct response to the passage of California's Proposition 8 in November 2008. Currently, Broadway Impact, in partnership with AFER, licenses and coordinates readings of Dustin Lance Black's "8" at regional, community and university theaters around the world. Broadway Impact was the recipient of the 2009 Human Rights Campaign Community Award and proudly operates under the fiscal sponsorship of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. www.broadwayimpact.com

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