The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact are proud to announce the full cast for the West Coast premiere of “8,” 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.
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 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 support efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.
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.
The most recent additions to the cast include: Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee Kevin Bacon; Golden Globe Award-winner, SAG and Emmy Award-nominee Chris Colfer; and Academy, Golden Globe and Grammy Award-nominee John C. Reilly. They join Matt Bomer, Campbell Brown, George Clooney, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Vanessa Garcia, Christine Lahti, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Rory O’Malley, Jansen Panettiere, James Pickens, Jr., Rob Reiner, Martin Sheen, Yeardley Smith, George Takei and Bridger Zadina.
Just last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision 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.”
John C. Reilly will play United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional after presiding over the historic twelve-day public trial. Kevin Bacon will play Charles J. Cooper, the lead attorney for the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8. Chris Colfer will play Ryan Kendall, a young man who testified about his experience being sent by his parents to so-called “reparative therapy” as a teenager.
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.
“This play will continue to show Americans—one by one—that truth and justice will prevail over prejudice and fear,” 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 fundamental freedom to marry, AFER will continue to fight in the courts of law and the court of public opinion—and we will win.”
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 from 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 dialogue, understanding and action. Most productions will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.
“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 at www.8theplay.com.