A one-night-only reading of 8 will be performed on the Alley Theatre's Neuhaus Stage, with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact. Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black's play chronicles the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8.
The reading will be Monday, September 10 at 7:30 PM on the Neuhaus Stage, directed by Joe Angel Babb, the Alley Theatre's Director of Education and Community Engagement. There will be a free preshow discussion at 7:00 PM. 8 willfeature members of the Houston Theatre community.
8 is 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.
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.
"Same-sex marriage issues confront the entire community with discussions and consequences crisscrossing between culture, morality and legality," explains Joe Angel Babb, the Alley Theatre's Director of Education and Community Engagement and director of this reading. "This play reminds us that respect and rationale are the best responses to phobia and intolerance."
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.
8had its West Coast premiere reading at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Saturday, 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.
"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 are licensing 8 for free to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding.
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 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."
On February 7, 2012, 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."
Proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Equal Rights and its federal lawsuit for marriage equality, and Equality Texas. For more information, visit: 8theplay.com
The reading will be Monday, September 10 at 7:30 PM on the Neuhaus Stage. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Alley Theatre box office, 615 Texas Avenue or online at www.alleytheatre.org. For more ticket information, go online or call 713.220.5700.
Joe Angel is the Director of Education & Community Engagement at the Alley Theatre. His career includes experience teaching and developing youth programs for the Shakespeare Theatre Company and managing arts education grants for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Joe Angel holds an MFA from the University of Houston and a BA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Highlights of his directing experience include The House of Yes, A Queer Carol, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Unhinged Productions), The Altruists (Theatre New West), The Eight (dAdA Productions), Wiley & the Hairy Man (BoarsHead Theatre), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Express Children's Theatre) and Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Lansing Community College). Under his direction, the Alley Theatre's Education & Community Engagement department was recognized by Texas Association of Partners in Education with a Crystal Award for innovative community arts programs. Joe Angel represents the Alley Theatre as a member of the Texas Educational Theatre Association, American Alliance for Theatre and Education, University Interscholastic League and the Houston Arts Partners.