8 play by Dustin Lance Black in AZAn Arizona production of a nationally recognized play will be staged next Tuesday, May 7, and include a cast of leading residents, including at least three attorneys. As of April 11, three local attorneys had agreed to perform: Bill Sheppard, Nicole Stanton and Grant Woods. Others who were slated include Cindy McCain.

The play, titled “8,” was written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and it “chronicles the historic federal trial challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage.” A ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court is expected in late June.

A play written about a court case? Well, it’s in good company (try To Kill a Mockingbird, Inherit the Wind and 12 Angry Men, for starters).

Tickets are $50 and $35 and can be purchased through the Arizona Theatre Company or Ticketmaster. As organizers say, “Following the performance, there will be a short discussion between Black, others and the audience on the issues presented in the trial.”

You can read more about the play here.

In a New York Times story, the writer described the play and his process:

“The play consists mostly of verbatim dialogue and statements from the trial transcript, [writer Dustin Lance] 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.”

And here is how the producers describe the legally based play:

Dustin Lance Black Prop 8 play

Dustin Lance Black

“‘8’—a new play by Academy-award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar)—demystifies the debate around marriage equality by chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry). Learn about the historical context of marriage from expert testimony. See the human cost of discrimination. Uncover the arguments used to justify bans on marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Using the actual court transcripts from the landmark federal trial of California’s Prop. 8 and firsthand interviews, ‘8’ shows both sides of the debate in a moving 90-minute play.”

“The Arizona production of ‘8’ announced the addition of five leading Valley residents to the cast.  Local actor Damon Bolling, producer/singer David Burrola, former TV news anchor Marlene Galan, former State Representative Steve May and Phoenix attorney and arts advocate Bill Sheppard will join the previously announced cast members for the May 7 presentation of ’8′ at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix.”

“Previous cast members announced include Black, Tony-nominated Broadway actor Rory O’Malley, CNN and ESPN commentator LZ Granderson and LGBT activist and AIDS Memorial Quilt creator Cleve Jones. Arizonans in the cast include business and community leader Cindy McCain, attorney and Phoenix First Lady Nicole Stanton, radio and TV personality Pat McMahon, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, State Senator Jack Jackson Jr. and Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot.”

“‘8’ will be produced by the Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) and directed by Matthew Wiener, Producing Artistic Director of Actors Theatre-Phoenix. Former Tempe mayor and current San Francisco AIDS Foundation Chief Executive Officer Neil Giuliano is the executive producer.”

Again, here is the ticket information, through the Arizona Theatre Company or Ticketmaster.

Follow the Arizona production of “8” on Facebook.

Have a great weekend.

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