Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart) will direct the Sept. 19 staged reading at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. 8 chronicles the historic reversal of California's anti-gay marriage legislation, Prop. 8.
As previously reported, Black has utilized the original transcripts from the 2010 Perry v. Schwarzenegger case, which sought to overturn the 2008 voter-approved Prop. 8 legislation. The trial ultimately led to a California federal judge's ruling that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional and unfairly discriminated against homosexuals.
The play will also incorporate observations and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families. Perry v. Schwarzenegger was not televised, and all video documentation remains under a federal protective order. 8 will offer audiences one of the first word-for-word accounts of moments from the historic trial.
The starry cast will take on the identities of the actual participants in the trial. Additional casting will be announced shortly.
Academy Award winner Freeman ("Million Dollar Baby," The Country Girl), joins fellow Academy Award winner Tomei ("My Cousin Vinnie," Salome), Jackson (Xanadu, Finian's Rainbow), Golden Globe winner Lahti ("Chicago Hope," God of Carnage), Academy Award nominee Reiner ("When Harry Met Sally," "Stand By Me"), Emmy winner Smith ("The Simpsons," More) and Golden Globe winner Edwards ("ER," "The Client"). The American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact align to present the special presentation of Black's play, which is aiming to have a future life in schools and community groups across the country. AFER and Broadway Impact intend to help produce and license the staged readings.
"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," said Black. "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. We at AFER are doing all we can to help speed that process along."
According to presenters, "The story for 8 is framed by the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, but features the best arguments and testimony from both sides of the issue. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by Prop. 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.'"
Proceeds from the Broadway staging of 8 will support the campaign for full federal marriage equality and educational efforts on the subject of marriage equality.
For ticket information visit www.afer.org/broadway8.