Bobby Cannavale, Matt McGrath to Take Part in 8 Benefit Reading at Williamstown Theatre Festival, 8/6

Bobby Cannavale, Matt McGrath to Take Part in 8 Benefit Reading at Williamstown Theatre Festival, 8/6

Williamstown Theatre Festival will take a look at arguably the most contentious social issue of the 21st Century when the Festival presents a reading of "8" on Monday. Artistic Director Jenny Gersten announced today the cast and creative team for the one-night-only event, which will be presented on the Main Stage on Monday, August 6 in a staged reading benefitting Broadway Impact and American Foundation for Equal Rights. T
he performance will be followed by a talkback.

"8" by Dustin Lance Black will be directed by Matt McGrath. (Broadway's Cabaret, WTF's Loot, WTF's Beyond Therapy). The cast will include Chris Bannow (WTF's The Elephant Man), Bobby Cannavale (The Mother****** with the Hat), Harry Ford (WTF's A Month in the Country) Kate Hamilton (WTF's Far From Heaven), Curt Hansen (Next to Normal National Tour), Sarah LaDuke (WAMC's "The Roundtable"), Thomas McCarthy (WTF's La Ronde), Kevin O'Rourke (HBO's "Boardwalk Empire"), Crystal Lucas Perry (WTF's Far From Heaven), Ariana Seigel (WTF's The Importance of Being Earnest), Linda White, Chris Wood (Spring Awakening), and others.

"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" 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.

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. For more information, please visit www.AFER.org.

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. For more information, please visit www.BROADWAYIMPACT.com.

All tickets to the event will be $40 and can be purchased at the Williamstown Theatre Festival Office or online at www.wtfestival.org.

As previously announced, the complete 2012 Williamstown Theatre Festival season runs from June 26 – August 19, 2012 and includes Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, a Preview Production of the new musical Far From Heaven, and a new translation of Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country on the Main Stage, with Lucy Boyle's The Blue Deep, Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Bernard Pomerance's The Elephant Man, and Katori Hall's WHADDABLOODCLOT!!! on the Nikos Stage. The season also included a special workshop production of David Byrne's Here Lies Love, which played at nearby MASS MoCA.

Since 1955, the Williamstown Theatre Festival has brought America's finest actors, directors, designers, and playwrights to the Berkshires, engaging a loyal audience of both residents and summer visitors. Each WTF season is designed to present unique opportunities for artists and audience alike, revisiting classic plays with innovative productions, developing and nurturing bold new plays and musicals, and offering a rich array of accompanying cultural events including Free Theatre, Late-Night Cabarets, readings, workshops, and educational programs. While best known for our acclaimed productions, WTF is also home to one of the nation's top training and professional development programs for new generations of aspiring theatre artists and administrators. Now under the leadership of Artistic Director Jenny Gersten, WTF was honored with the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2002 and The Commonwealth Award for Achievement in 2011.

Tickets to the Williamstown Theatre Festival may be purchased online (www.wtfestival.org), by phone at 413-597-3400, or in person at the '62 Center for Theatre and Dance Box Office at 1000 Main St (Route 2), Williamstown, MA 02167.

The Festival's Nikos Stage is an intimate 173-seat venue that regularly sells out in advance from within the pool of Festival donors.

 

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