As a response to the dispute over the video footage from the Prop. 8 trial, which has been restricted from release by supporters of the California ballot initiative to take away marriage equality rights from same-sex couples, Dustin Lance Black is fighting censorship with ... theatre?
On September 19, Black, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of 2008's Milk, will debut 8, a play based on the courtroom proceedings of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Last August, of course, the trial ended with Judge Vaughn R. Walker overturning Prop. 8, which won voter support in California during the 2008 election. The National Organization for Marriage and other anti-equality groups are now appealing Walker's decision.
8 is primarily comprised of actual statements made by key players in the trial - Black combined the transcripts of the trial with his own observations from sitting in on the proceedings to write the script. He focused on this project as a way of bringing the details of the trial into a more public sphere, since marriage equality opponents succeeded in blocking video footage from the Prop. 8 trial from being released last year. The court was open to the public, but official video footage was not sanctioned, even though the case involved the rights of a minority population.
The production will debut at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on Broadway in New York. This staged reading of the trial, directed by Joe Mantello, will be a one-night only event. Subsequently, the rights to 8 will be released to college campuses to perform and spread the word further. Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Michigan, and Northwestern University are already planning on performing 8, according to The New York Times.
The Sept. 19 debut will serve as a fundraising campaign for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group that supported the plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 case. Black is a founding member of the organization. 8 is also supported by Broadway Impact, a non-profit group devoted to marriage equality.
In a press release from AFER, Black detailed the importance of his new project.
People need to witness what happened in the Prop. 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. 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.
More on getting tickets can be found here.