Public Theatre of Southern California Holds Reading of Dustin Lance Black's '8' Tonight, 9/21
Civic leaders and a star-studded cast will perform a one-night- only reading of "8, The Play," with Public Theatre of Southern California, with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact. "8, The Play," chronicles 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 performance will take place at 8 p.m. tonight, September 21st at The Ernest Borgnine Theater, located at 855 Elm Avenue in downtown Long Beach. To purchase tickets, please visit www.PublicTheatreSoCal.com or e-mail tickets@PublicTheatreSoCal.com.
A TALK-BACK with Producing Artistic Director Denis McCourt, cast and Proposition 8 experts will take place immediately following the performance and will include Documentary Filmmaker Charlie Gage INSPIRED: The Voices Against Prop 8, also, Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo, the plaintiffs of the lawsuit against California and Schwarzenegger.
Afterward, guests will participate in a VIP Fundraising Celebration sponsored by Primal Alchemy Chefs Dana and Paul Buchanan. Proceeds will benefit the American Foundation of Equal Rights (AFER). Tickets cost $120, and include the performance and after party libations. Tickets for the VIP Fundraising Celebration can be purchased at www.publictheatresocal.com.
"I am so thrilled and honored to present this very important theatrical work for the first-time to Long Beach and the Southern California audiences," said Producing Artistic Director Denis McCourt. "I invite theater-goers to come and witness an integral part of our history debating the Civil Rights Issue of our time."
"8, The Play" 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, The Play" on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
For the show, McCourt enlisted noted civic leaders and a star-studded cast, including: Tony Award Winners Ben Vereen and Lyle Kanouse, Broadway and TV Stars Alan Mandell, David Birney and Jonelle Allen; Vice Mayor Robert Garcia and Community Activist Justin Rudd.
Other cast members include: Toni Attell, David Fox-Brenton, Linda Slade, Lisa Glass, Joshua Gray, Anthony Gruppuso and Paul Wong.
"8, The Play" 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, The Play" 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 story for "8, The Play" 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."
Pictured: Robert Garcia and Justin Rudd