On Wednesday, for one night only, the Miners Foundry Cultural Center and SisterStage present “8” the play. “8”— a new play by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (“Milk,” “J. Edgar”) — demystifies the debate around marriage equality by chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry). It tells the real-life story of Kris and Sandy, and Paul and Jeff, two loving couples who want to get married but can’t.
Together with attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson and a host of expert witnesses, they take aim at Proposition 8, a discriminatory law that took away the right for LGBT couples to marry in California in 2008.
The play has been performed coast to coast by an array of famous actors including Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jane Lynch and John C. Reilly.
Wednesday’s staged reading condenses 12 days of court hearings into a running time of less than 90 minutes, alternating between witness testimony and biographical scenes of the plaintiffs. As “8” flashes in and out of the Perry court, watch both sides present the best evidence, arguments and witnesses for and against marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. See how the case affects the plaintiffs and their kids, and, following the performance, learn how you, too, can become involved in the fight for equal rights.
“I am very passionate about theater that helps to bring about deeper understanding of political and social issues,” said Andrea Fox of SisterStage. “This kind of play hopefully helps us examine ourselves and the way we interact with the world, not just physically and politically but emotional and spiritually.”
Fox, who was also responsible for bringing the popular Off Broadway play “Vagina Monologues” written by Eve Ensler to Nevada County between 2001-2007, was familiar with and liked the production model of a one-night only performance where everyone who participated was a volunteer and all proceeds after production costs were met would be distributed to support the mission of American Foundation for Equal Rights and the Foundry.
“I like working fast and deep as well, but this is a different kind of animal since the actors are not supposed to have their lines memorized,” said Fox about the staged reading. “To see an icon such as Martin Sheen, (Sheen played Theodore B. Olson, AFER’s lead co-counsel in a production of ‘8’ in Los Angeles) walking around a set in costume and carrying a script, there is something quite charming about that. It allows the audience to see the actors at work in a different way.”
Fox held an open call for actors and was thrilled to find that the play’s positive word of mouth attracted such a diverse group of local actors, including young thespians JaDee Dennis, Elliott Wernigg and Chandler Leonard from three local high schools. The final lineup includes actors from Synthetic Unlimited, Quest TheatreWorks, Legacy Productions, Sierra Stages, MMG Productions and Community Asian Theater of the Sierra. The volunteer staff aiding Fox with the production includes theatre veterans costume designer Cindy Barry, lighting designer Tom Taylor, and production manager Carol Glad.
“I hope this play brings us together to see our humanity, the minuses and pluses,” said Fox.
Wednesday’s play begins at 7:30 p.m. at Miners Foundry Cultural Center. There is a suggested donation of $10 for tickets, which are available at BriarPatch Co-op.