Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County (UUFHC), with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, has announced 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.
"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.
The reading will be performed at the UUFHC in Churchville, Md., today, September 8, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $5.00 and all proceeds go to the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER). Tickets may be purchased at the door, one hour before the show; tickets may also be reserved in advance by calling (410) 937-5657 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cast of UUFHC's production include: Stacie Beard, Erica Bertoli, James Biernatowski, Jessica Brockmeyer, Allison Ehrman, Madeline Favazza, Tammy Gappen, Jo Gullo, Kristin Hessenauer, Hazel Hopkins, Larry Hopkins, Hannah Jackson, Vincent Kalwa, Ryan Nicotra, Seth Saunders, Paul Seadler, Vince Seadler, Tim Torre, Bob Veidt, and Rev. Lisa Ward. They are directed by Jessica Brockmeyer.
"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, including this one, will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.
UUFHC Stage Manager, Emily Knowles, said that "it is most important to have this reading now, in such a pivotal moment in Maryland's fight for marriage equality. We hope that in this election Marylanders will vote "Yes" for marriage for all and, maybe our reading will have helped to promote that."
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: