Williamstown Theatre Festival will take a look at arguably the most contentious social issue of the 21st Century when the Festival presents a reading of "8" on Monday. Artistic Director Jenny Gersten announced today the cast and creative team for the one-night-only event, which will be presented on the Main Stage on Monday, August 6 in a staged reading benefitting Broadway Impact and American Foundation for Equal Rights. T
he performance will be followed by a talkback.
"8" by Dustin Lance Black will be directed by Matt McGrath. (Broadway's Cabaret, WTF's Loot, WTF's Beyond Therapy). The cast will include Chris Bannow (WTF's The Elephant Man), Bobby Cannavale (The Mother****** with the Hat), Harry Ford (WTF's A Month in the Country) Kate Hamilton (WTF's Far From Heaven), Curt Hansen (Next to Normal National Tour), Sarah LaDuke (WAMC's "The Roundtable"), Thomas McCarthy (WTF's La Ronde), Kevin O'Rourke (HBO's "Boardwalk Empire"), Crystal Lucas Perry (WTF's Far From Heaven), Ariana Seigel (WTF's The Importance of Being Earnest), Linda White, Chris Wood (Spring Awakening), and others.
"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.
"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.
"8" had 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. Most productions will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Perry v. Brown, the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality for all Americans. For more information, please visit www.AFER.org.