The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact are proud to announce an all-star cast for the West Coast premiere 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 and directed by acclaimed actor and director and AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner.
“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 new critically-acclaimed 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” is set to have its West Coast premiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles, for an exclusive, one-night-only fundraiser to benefit AFER.
Acclaimed White Collar television star Matt Bomer; Emmy Award-winning journalist Campbell Brown; Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney; Golden Globe Award-winner Jamie Lee Curtis; Emmy Award-nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson; prominent gay rights activist Cleve Jones; Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Christine Lahti; Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Jane Lynch; Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award-nominee Matthew Morrison; Tony Award-nominee Rory O’Malley; Emmy Award-winner and Academy and Golden Globe Award-nominee Rob Reiner; Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen; Emmy Award-winner Yeardley Smith; and acclaimed Star Trek television and film star George Takei will appear in the West Coast premiere of “8.”
“This play will continue to show Americans—one by one—that prejudice and fear cannot stand up to truth and justice,” said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. “Try as they might, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 cannot hide their discriminatory arguments from the American people. Until every citizen can equally enjoy the freedom to marry, AFER will continue to fight in the courts of law and the court of public opinion—and we will win.”
George Clooney and Martin Sheen will play plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the all-star attorneys who notably faced-off in Bush v. Gore. Christine Lahti and Jamie Lee Curtis will play plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple together for eleven years and the parents of four boys. Matthew Morrison and Matt Bomer will play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple together over ten years.
Jane Lynch will play prominent opponent of marriage equality Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. Rob Reiner will play David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values.
Additional casting will be announced soon.
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.”
“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 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 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 one million dollars to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.
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.
Proposition 8 was struck down by the 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 that court to unseal the trial video. The American public was not given a chance to witness the historic trial because the Proponents launched a desperate attempt to forever hide the video recording of the trial.
A ruling on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the release of the trial video is expected soon. The Perry case is widely anticipated to end up in the United States Supreme Court.
“I was lucky enough to watch the initial closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in San Francisco,” said Broadway Impact co-founder Rory O’Malley (Tony Award-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 theatre—plays like The 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.”
Find out more here.