- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Play about Prop 8 makes its Broadway debut
Question of the Day
NEW YORK (AP) - A play based on last year’s federal court fight over California’s gay marriage ban made its Broadway debut on Monday night with an all-star cast, only hours after a federal judge decided to unseal the trial’s video recordings.
Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s play “8” was born, in part, by frustration that Proposition 8 backers had succeeded in getting the U.S. Supreme Court to bar broadcast of the landmark case.
During the trial, former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson and attorney David Boies _ best known as adversaries who represented opposing sides in the disputed 2000 presidential election _ put on a powerfully clear argument in favor of gay marriage. Prop. 8 was eventually ruled unconstitutional in August 2010. The case is under appeal.
Black, a member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, wrote his play using the trial transcript, firsthand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
“It was extraordinary,” Joe Mantello, who directed the reading, said afterward. “The actors really threw themselves in it. It was mind blowing.”
The play was performed as a one-night-only reading at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre starring Morgan Freeman, Ellen Barkin, Anthony Edwards, Bradley Whitford, John Lithgow, Cheyenne Jackson, Campbell Brown, Christine Lahti, Rob Reiner and Larry Kramer, among others. The mood was festive and no mention was made of the latest judge’s decision on stage.
The 21 actors read from binders that contained the script and sat in director’s chairs on stage. The only props were the flags of California and the United States and a video monitor that played anti-gay marriage political ads. One odd note was struck inadvertently right at the beginning: The proscenium was decorated like a Mormon temple _ the legacy of the show that usually plays in the space, “The Book of Mormon.”
Freeman portrayed Boies, Lithgow played Olson, Whitford played pro-Prop 8 attorney Charles Cooper and Bob Balaban played the judge. The other actors played various plaintiffs, witnesses and experts. Celebrities spotted in the audience included newscasters Brian Williams and Barbara Walters, and actress Fran Drescher.
At the end of the reading, the cast invited the real Olson and Boies onto the stage, as well as the four plaintiffs: Sandy Stier (played by Barkin), Kris Perry (Lahti), Paul Katami (Jackson) and Jeff Zarrillo (Matt Bomer).
Boies said the judge’s decision to release the video of the trial wouldn’t harm the play’s prospects. “Having all of these ways of expressing this issue is important. Theater has a way of reaching people and I think the people who did this did a terrific job of boiling down a three-and-a-half week trial down to 70 or 80 minutes.”
The American Foundation for Equal Rights and fellow producer Broadway Impact, a gay-rights group, hope to license “8” to schools and community organizations nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding.
Just hours before the play’s debut, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Francisco ruled that no compelling reasons exist to keep the video recordings secret. His order will take effect on Sept. 30 unless a higher court overrules him.
Andy Pugno, general counsel to the Protect Marriage coalition, said his group would appeal immediately to the Ninth Circuit. He declined to comment on the Broadway reading or the play.
The audience at the reading was overwhelmingly pro-gay marriage, although Black tried to tease out both sides’ best argument from trial. Reiner, who played a witness for the anti-gay marriage side, triggered laughs when he was cornered by the plaintiff’s attorneys or fumbled for an answer.
TWT Video Picks
There's nothing centrist about the senior senator from Virginia
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq