University of New Hampshire , Durham, NH, joins a nationwide movement of theaters and universities producing a reading of a landmark play about marriage equality by Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Milk, J. Edgar, Dustin Lance Black
The UNH Department of Theatre & Dance, The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, the UNH Alliance, the UNH Discovery Program and the student organizations– Mask and Dagger and WildActs: Theatre for Social Justice, — in partnership with American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact announce a two-night-only reading of Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black’s play “8.” The new script is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial, Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which eliminated the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples in California.
Black 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” debuted with an all-star cast on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City on September 19, 2011 to much acclaim. The play is slated for multicity performances in 2012, including an all-star performance in Los Angeles featuring Academy Award-nominee George Clooney on March 3, 2012.
“8” will be performed on February 7, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the MUB Strafford Room on the UNH Durham campus. Tickets are free but must be reserved through the MUB ticket office. The event is general seating and seating is limited. The UNH production will be directed by Associate Professor David Kaye and features a diverse cast made up of UNH faculty, students, staff and alumni. Co-founder of Broadway Impact and Tony Award nominee Gavin Creel will be at the Durham event to facilitate a talk-back discussion following the reading. Creel will also hold an event preceding the play reading at the UNH Museum of Art from 1:00 to 2:00 where Professor Kaye will discuss Creel’s Broadway musical career, and why he co-founded Broadway Impact. This event is free and open to the public.
The UNH cast will perform a second reading of “8” Friday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Palace Theatre in Manchester, NH. Tickets are $20 and can be reserved at www.palacetheatre.org.
The UNH cast includes Travis Nason, Samantha Lynne Smith, Professor Dav id Richman, Joe Nelson, Sean McGhee, Dan Shine, Ben Arsenault, Ben Pollak, Nancy Pearson, Heather Rudzenski, Adam Zak, and Professor David Kaye.
“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.
Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact will license “8” to schools and community organizations nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding. When event organizers contacted Kaye, he expressed immediate interest. “Here at UNH, we have been using theatre as a method of addressing social justice for many years. In 2004, we created a play on marriage equality to bring to area Rotary clubs. With this important issue once again coming to the state house floor, we were eager to join Broadway Impact to bring this equal rights play to our campus and the Palace Theatre in Manchester. It’s a powerful script that reveals what is really at the heart of the issue.”
AFER and Broadway Impact will coordinate staged readings of the play across the country, so that “8” will live on for those who were not lucky enough to see the trial with their own eyes. The trial videotapes have been kept under seal due to a federal protective order, but after AFER attorneys made a strong case, Chief Judge Ware at the U.S. District Court agreed that the trial footage should and will be released to the public.
To reserve tickets, visit: www.unhmub.com/ticket. For information on how your local theater can produce “8,” visit: www.8theplay.com. Follow “8”on Twitter: @8theplay or on Facebook. “8”