The Ice House Theatre presented “8″, a play by Dustin Lance Black 11/4/12


On Friday and Saturday evenings, November 2nd and 3rd, the Ice House Theatre presented a local production of Academy Award winnerDustin Lance Black’s “8″.  Area thespians stepped into roles first portrayed by Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, George Clooney, Kevin Bacon, Chris Colfer, and Jamie Lee Curtis, to name but a few of the major stars who appeared in the stage production in Los Angeles on March 3, 2012.

I attended the Saturday evening presentation of the play, and the discussion panel that followed.  I would like to commend all the participants.  It’s got to be a bit daunting to step into a role first portrayed by a George Clooney, a Martin Sheen, or a Kevin Bacon!  All of you did an excellent job with the material, and the audience enjoyed your presentation immensely.

The play, written from the transcripts of the trial’s closing arguments, allows the audience to see the historic court battle that ended in a ruling finding Proposition 8, the California state ballot initiative that removed marriage equality from the gay community, unconstitutional.  Including commentary from the two gay couples who sued in Federal Court, and the children of one of those couples, “8″ is at times maddening, at times sad, and often humorous.  Dustin Lance Black’s play brings home the basic truth that Proposition 8 relied on unsupportable evidence to convince 7 million voters (in a state with a population of 36.7 million at the time) to approve the initiative.  After depositions were given by numerous witnesses for the proponents, only one would agree to actually testify at trial, and he ended up agreeing that marriage equality would be a good thing!

The local production of “8″, and the discussion panels that followed, allowed the local LGBT community, and their straight allies, to join together in support of each other and of the many who are still struggling with the inequities and prejudices of anti-gay individuals,  organizations, and family members.

The cast spoke of their motivations for appearing in the play, and how the struggle for LGBT equality has affected their own lives.  For some, it was a matter of friends or family members being discriminated against.  For others, it was the desire to be able to marry the person they loved.  Others simply recognize the battle for equality is today’s great civil rights struggle, and they felt the need to add their voices.

I’m sorry I missed Friday’s presentation.  From what I’ve heard, a local pastor took part, and among other comments, blamed the LGBT community for what he called “schisms” in the church.  When I first heard of this comment, I thought to myself “Martin Luther was gay??”.  As a member of the LGBT community stated after Friday’s panel, churches have been suffering from schisms from day one!  To blame the LGBT community, and to claim that sexual orientation is a choice, as the pastor was reported to have said, undoubtedly made Friday’s panel discussion an interesting event.  The pastor did not return for Saturday’s discussion, unfortunately.

Proposition 8 is now at the Supreme Court, after the Court of Appeals upheld the lower Federal Court’s ruling (twice).  We will know before Thanksgiving whether the high court will hear the case.  If they refuse to accept the request of the proponents for a hearing, same-gender marriages could resume in California in mere days.

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