New England College Performs Reading of Dustin Lance Black's New Play "8"
The New England College Theatre Department joins nationwide productions of landmark marriage equality play by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Milk, and J. Edgar.
The New England College Theatre Department in partnership with the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact announce 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 AFER Founding Board Member and Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black.
“8” is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial of 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 right 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” 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. The play is set for multi-city performances in 2012, including an all-star performance in Los Angeles on March 3, 2012 featuring Academy Award-winner George Clooney.
The New England College performance of “8” takes place on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Simon Center Great Room. Tickets are FREE and reservations are not required. For more information please call the New England College Box Office at 603-428-2382 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NEC production is directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Alex Picard. The cast is led by faculty members Glenn Stuart, Wallace J. Pineault, and Russ Rattray, and community member Melinda Wolfe. Students from the New England College Department of Theatre round out the remainder of the cast.
A Talk Back conversation will be held immediately following the production of “8” on February 23. The conversation will be facilitated by Fran Chelland, Associate Professor of Humanities at New England College. Additional participants will include a representative from the organization Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, a bipartisan group of New Hampshire citizens who are working to uphold New Hampshire’s law recognizing same-sex marriage.
“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.”
In addition to its Broadway and Los Angeles productions, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing “8” to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding. AFER and Broadway Impact are helping produce these staged readings across the country with a full slate set for 2012.
“There was no question that we wanted to be involved with this reading,” said NEC director Alex Picard. “ From the moment I received the phone call the answer was ‘Yes’ as it will continue to be, always. This Theatre Department believes that truthful storytelling can change the world, and that is what we hope to do for us, for our students, for our community, and for the country.”
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 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.”
Proposition 8 was struck down by the Federal District Court in August 2010. That ruling 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.
For information on how your local theater can produce “8,” visit: www.8theplay.com. Follow “8”on Twitter: @8theplay or on Facebook.
“8” New England College Department of Theatre cast list:
Clerk - Maddison Shea
Broadcast Journalist - Lauren Maynard
Judge Walke - Wallace J. Pineault
Olson - Glenn Stuart
Boies - Russ Rattray
Cooper - William O’Donnell
Jeff - Jamil Johnson
Paul - Adam Boisselle
Sandy - Shawna Holt
Kris - Dominique Grant
Elliott - Ian Harte
Spenser - Justin King
Dr. Nancy Cott - Michelle Bibeau
Maggie Gallagher - Melinda Wolfe
Dr. Meyer - Felicia Tomolonis
Ryan Kendall - Jordan Runcie-Hubbard
Dr. Herek - Kayla Morello
Dr. Segura - Danielle Purdy
Dr. Tam - Hannah Mitchell
David Blankenhorn - Lauren Dummich
Evan Wolfson - Shannon Rota