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|Play about marriage equality fight gets first Atlanta reading|
|by Jim Farmer|
|September 28, 2012 00:00|
Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black’s play “8” will make its Atlanta debut Oct. 15 via a collaboration among several local organizations, including Georgia Equality, Actor’s Express, Stonewall Bar Association, and John Marshall School of Law’s OUTLaws and Allies student group.
The high-profile play, dealing with the fight for marriage equality, was performed last year on Broadway and then was telecast from Los Angeles this spring around the world, both times with A-list readers/cast members.
“8” is based on the real life Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, which sought to overturn the California ballot measure known as Proposition 8, which ended same-sex marriage in the state. High-profile lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson represented two gay couples who wanted to get married.
Marriage equality advocates won at the federal district court and appeals court levels; backers of Prop. 8 have now asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. At press time, a decision was expected sometime between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1, according to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the nonprofit that engaged Olson and Boies to bring the case.
Black’s play combines the transcripts of the federal trial as well as observations by those present and interviews with both sides of the case.
“It uses the words of the people involved and does a fair job of presenting it to the public,” says Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality.
The date of the reading is meant to coincide with Atlanta Pride as well as the start of the Supreme Court’s 2012-2013 session, he says.
The idea to present a local version of “8” was spearheaded by Heather Miller, a second year law student at John Marshall, who was surprised it had not been performed here.
“Atlanta is this metropolitan area so I thought there needed to be one,” Miller says.
She contacted Georgia Equality and Graham had already talked to Actor’s Express about the possibility. They eventually all joined forces, with Actor’s Express’ Artistic Director Freddie Ashley coming aboard to direct and cast the production.
Miller specifically went to law school so that she could advocate for LGBT rights. A 10-year Atlantan, she has been with her partner for the last seven years. Miller was formerly with the Air Force Academy but quit the same year President Bill Clinton signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law.
She thinks “8” does a great job of showing that marriage equality is a personal, not just political, issue.
“People who are fighting for marriage equality aren’t monsters, or the nameless, faceless people they are portrayed as by some people,” she says.
Miller is a big fan of Black, who won an Academy Award for his “Milk” screenplay. “Look at ‘Milk’ – that was a hard autobiography to do,” she says. “It wasn’t easy. What he does is take these hard subjects and makes them all human.”
A discussion after the play will feature State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta), Beth Littrell of Lambda Legal, Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim and Georgia Equality Board Chair Kenyatta Mitchell.
Professor Michael Mears of John Marshall Law School will moderate the panel, which will focus on the status of marriage equality in Georgia.
A portion of the proceeds from the reading will be shared between Georgia Equality and the Stonewall Bar Association as well the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which licenses the play along with Broadway Impact.
Top photo: Freddie Ashley (left) of Actor’s Express directs a staged-reading of Dustin Lance Black’s play ‘8’ in Atlanta to raise funds and awareness in the fight for marriage equality (Photos via Facebook).
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