Kean University Announces New Date For Reading of Dustin Lance Black's Play “8”
Monday, January 7, 2013 • 10:50am
Less than one month after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear not one but two cases challenging legislation that seeks to restrict marriage to one man and one woman, Kean University Department of Theatre - with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact - is proud to announce its rescheduled 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. Originally scheduled for November 5, 2012 and postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, Kean’s reading of “8” will now take place mere months before the Supreme Court is expected to begin hearing arguments in both cases.
“8” is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry, one of the two cases soon to be heard by the Supreme Court), a suit initially filed by AFER in 2009 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. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of the 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.”
Directed by Maureen Heffernan of Young Audiences New Jersey, Kean's production of “8” will feature a cast of Equity actors, Kean faculty, students, alumni, and staff. Says Heffernan, “I am delighted to be a part of this production of '8' which provides an opportunity to meet and understand more about real people who are part of the struggle for marriage equality. This is an engaging look at a difficult issue facing our country.”
Kean’s reading of “8” will take place on Monday, January 28th at 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theatre within the University Center. Tickets are $8 for seniors and Kean students/faculty/staff; $18 for the general public; and $88 for those wishing to make a substantial donation. All proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and tickets may be purchased at the Kean University Box Office by calling 908-737-7469.
“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. It then had its West Coast premiere reading at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on 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. Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact also licensed “8” for free to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding. Most productions were followed by a talkback where cast and audience members discussed the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.
“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.”
On February 7, 2012 (just weeks before "8" premiered on the West Coast), 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.”
The U.S. Supreme Court signaled its intention to enter the conversation on December 7, 2012, when it agreed to hear two cases related to marriage equality: the challenge to Proposition 8 outlined in Black's play (proponents of Proposition 8 filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court on July 30, 2012), and a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law defining marriage as a legal union of one man and one woman, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Kean's reading of "8," initially scheduled to coincide with the 2012 election season, will now take place just weeks after the Supreme Court's landmark decision, and mere months before the Court is scheduled to hear arguments in both cases. The Court's ruling is anticipated in late June of this year.
To purchase tickets for the January 28, 2013 7:30 p.m. reading, please contact the Kean Theatre Box Office: 908-737-7469.
For information on how your local theater can produce “8,” visit: www.8theplay.com.