Initial Casting for Broadway Staged Reading of Dustin Lance Black’s New Play “8” Sept. 19th Event

This past week, the American Foundation for Equal Rights in partnership with Broadway Impact announce initial casting for the highly anticipated one night only staged reading of “8,” a new play chronicling the historic trial in the federal legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8.

The play is written by AFER Founding Board Member and Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black and will be directed by two-time Tony Award-winning actor and director Joe Mantello.

Anthony Edwards, Morgan Freeman, Cheyenne Jackson, Christine Lahti, Rob Reiner, Yeardley Smith and Marisa Tomei will appear in the auspicious one night only event
September 19, 2011.

The production is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which eliminated the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples in California.

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.  The new play will have its world premiere on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City on Monday, September 19, 2011 for an exclusive, one night only fundraiser to benefit AFER. Additional casting for the all-star benefit will be announced soon.

Following the New York debut on September 19, 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 help produce 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 testimony from both sides of the issue.  Scenes include reenactments of many of the well-documented jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by Proposition 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.”

AFER prevailed in federal district court when, based on the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,  Judge Walker concluded that California had no rational basis or vested interest in denying gays and lesbians marriage licenses and thus found Proposition 8 “unconstitutional” on August 4, 2010.  It is currently under appeal by the anti-marriage Proponents and is being expedited through the courts system at a relatively rapid pace.

Unfortunately, the American public was not given a chance to witness the historic trial because the Proponents of Proposition 8 launched a number of desperate attempts to forever hide the trial videotapes.  Although the trial proceedings were open to the public, and all courtroom testimony and events were thoroughly documented, the trial video most vividly compares the weakness of the Proponents’ arguments to the well-reasoned, valid and constitutionally-based arguments and evidence put forth by AFER’s renowned legal team, plaintiffs and expert witnesses.

The video of the trial has been kept under seal due to a federal protective order.  AFER’s attorneys have filed a motion asking the court to make the full and unedited recordings available for all to see (Hearing scheduled for August 29th before Judge Ware at US District Court), but there is no guarantee that the footage will ever be available for viewing and this is precisely the reason Black wrote “8.”

Proceeds from the September 19 reading will go directly to the fight for full federal marriage equality and to support educational efforts on the freedom to marry nationwide.

For more information including how to buy tickets, visit:

For information on how your local theater can produce “8,” visit:

Follow “8” on Twitter: @8theplay or on Facebook.


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