NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
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Tonight the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact launched the all-star Broadway premiere of "8" to a packed and enthusiastic audience. The play, which chronicles the historic trial in the federal legal challenge to California's Proposition 8, was written by AFER Founding Board Member and Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black and directed by Tony Award-winning actor and director Joe Mantello.
The production is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case filed by AFER to overturn Prop. 8, which eliminated the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry in California. Prop. 8 was ruled unconstitutional in August 2010.
The premiere featured an all-star cast including Academy, Tony and four-time Emmy Award nominee Bob Balaban; Emmy and Tony Award winner and two-time Golden Globe Award nominee Ellen Barkin; acclaimed "White Collar" television star Matt Bomer; Emmy Award-winning journalist Campbell Brown; Golden Globe Award winner and four-time Emmy Award nominee Anthony Edwards; Academy and Golden Globe Award winner and Tony nominee Morgan Freeman; Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell; award-winning Broadway, television and film star Cheyenne Jackson; celebrated playwright and gay rights activist Larry Kramer; Academy, Emmy and two-time Golden Globe Award winner Christine Lahti; two-time Academy Award-nominated, multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning, two-time Tony Award-winning actor John Lithgow; Tony Award nominee and Broadway Impact Co-Founder Rory O'Malley; two-time Emmy Award-winning, Academy and multiple Golden Globe-nominated director and actor Rob Reiner; Broadway star Kate Shindle; Emmy Award winner Yeardley Smith; two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Spinella; and Emmy Award winner and three-time Golden Globe Award nominee Bradley Whitford. The cast of "8" also featured Tony Award nominee K. Todd Freeman, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Ken Leung and Ben Rosenfield.
The "8" premiere attracted a sell-out crowd with more than 80 people lined up outside the theatre this morning to snap up the remaining tickets; some camped out overnight. Opinion and political leaders, philanthropists, business leaders and actors turned out to support "8," including Lieutenant Dan Choi, Chace Crawford, Anna Deavere Smith (Pulitzer Prize winner), Fran Drescher, Adrian Fenty (former Mayor of Washington DC), Celia Keenan-Bolger, Laurene Powell Jobs, Joel Klein (Executive Vice President of News Corporation), Judith Light, Dan Loeb (CEO, Third Point Capital), Sir Deryck Maughan (Partner, Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts), Stuart Milk, Stephen Pasquale, Christine Quinn (NY City Council Speaker), Rt. Rev. Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Barbara Walters, and Brian Williams.
Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk, 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.
In a real-life twist, today U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware ruled that the video recordings of the Prop. 8 trial should be released to the public. Plaintiffs had asked the District Court to unseal the video recordings of the Prop. 8 trial, citing the strong presumption of public access to judicial records and the lack of any factual evidence by the Proponents to keep the video secret. In his decision, Judge Ware stated, "Transparency is pivotal to the public perception of the judiciary's legitimacy and independence."
"Tonight showed the world why marriage equality will prevail," said Chad Griffin, AFER Board President. "This is not a partisan issue. It's a fight for the rights of real people, many of them our friends, our family and our neighbors, and all of them our fellow Americans. With this play we are pulling back the curtain on discrimination and bigotry so the American public can see the prejudiced and absurd arguments being made by those defending measures like Proposition 8."
"I am so proud of the theater community and their overwhelming response to making sure that the public sees what happened at the Prop. 8 trial," said Rory O'Malley, co-founder of Broadway Impact. "The fight for marriage equality impacts all of us and the theater world is committed to bringing '8' to communities around the country."
Following the New York debut on September 19th, AFER and Broadway Impact will license "8" to schools and community organizations nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding. AFER and Broadway Impact will coordinate these staged readings across the country, so that "8" will live on beyond its September premiere.
The story for "8" is framed by the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, but features the best arguments and witness testimony presented by both legal teams. Scenes include reenactments of many of the well-documented, jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by the 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 tonight's reading will go directly to the fight for full federal marriage equality and to support educational efforts toward securing the freedom to marry nationwide.
- For more information visit: www.afer.org/broadway8
- For information on how your local theater can produce "8," visit: www.BROADWAYIMPACT.com
- Follow "8" on Twitter: @8theplay or on Facebook.
- TO READ JUDGE WARE'S DECISION GO HERE >
About the American Foundation for Equal Rights: The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of the federal court challenge to Proposition 8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced its case through federal District Court and is now leading it through the appeals process. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality. AFER Board of Directors includes Chad Griffin (President), Bruce Cohen, Dustin Lance Black, Jonathan Lewis, Ken Mehlman, Michele Reiner and Rob Reiner. www.AFER.org
About Broadway Impact: BROADWAY IMPACT is a non-profit organization of theatre artists and fans mobilized in support of marriage equality. Founded in 2008 by Tony-nominated performers Rory O'Malley (Book of Mormon), Gavin Creel (HAIR) and Production Coordinator Jenny Kanelos, BROADWAY IMPACT works to educate and inspire the theatre community into action. Recent initiatives include helping to staff the phone banking efforts in New York State, creating a 3,000 piece letter writing campaign, gaining the funding for 1,400 supporters to attend the National Equality March and producing a rally for over 5,000 attendees in Midtown Manhattan where speakers included, Cynthia Nixon, Audra McDonald, David Hyde Pierce, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Governor David Paterson. BROADWAY IMPACT was awarded the 2009 Human Rights Campaign Community Award. www.BROADWAYIMPACT.com
SOURCE American Foundation for Equal Rights