Illuminating California’s Proposition 8 Trial, Onstage

Dustin Lance Black taken by Ann Johansson

From NYTIMES by

A new play based on the Proposition 8 trial over same-sex marriage in California, written by the Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”), will be performed in a staged reading on Broadway in September and then produced at Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern, the University of Michigan, and elsewhere.

Mr. Black and other supporters of gay marriage said they would try to recruit several other colleges and theaters to stage the play, which is titled “8,” and bring attention to the arguments in the trial last year. It culminated in August with a federal judge striking down California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage, known as Proposition 8; the judge’s ruling is now being appealed.

The play consists mostly of verbatim dialogue and statements from the trial transcript, Mr. Black said, as well as his own observations from sitting in the courtroom most days and interviewing people on both sides of the case.

Roughly a dozen people from the trial are portrayed as characters, including Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, the lawyers for the two gay couples who sued California over the ban; Charles J. Cooper, the lead defense counsel; Kristin M. Perry and Sandra B. Stier, a lesbian couple who were among the plaintiffs; and the judge, Vaughn R. Walker of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California.

Mr. Black, who won an Oscar in 2009 for his original screenplay about the life and assassination of Harvey Milk, a gay man on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, said he became determined to write the play after the United States Supreme Court blocked the trial judge’s plan to broadcast the hearings over the Internet.

“One of my hopes about the trial was to get the opposition in court, hands raised swearing to tell the truth, and have the world see the opposition called to account for going on TV saying gay people harm children, harm families,” Mr. Black said. “Since the trial itself wasn’t heard or seen, I wanted to get that story out another way.”

Mr. Black declined to share a copy of the script, saying he was still refining it. The trial transcript was several thousand pages long, and Mr. Black said he spent six months distilling it into a 90-minute, intermission-free work.

Read the full story here: NYTIMES

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