Fascinating, factual play-reading of '8' at HSU

If you've always wanted to hear some of the real words from the documented evidence and testimonies surrounding California's controversial "Proposition 8" courtroom decisions (pro and con), then you'll soon have the opportunity to do.

HSU's Department of Theatre, Film & Dance is one of the lucky university arts departments chosen to present a reading of the traveling play, "8," created by Dustin Lance Black to share that information with interested audiences throughout the U.S.

Black, who won a 2008 Academy Award for his screenplay for "Milk," the story of the assassinated openly gay San Francisco supervisor, is certainly no stranger to shining an artistic spotlight on important gay rights issues.

He based "8" on the original case and trial, "Perry vs. Schwarzenegger," from a federal suit filed by The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) to overturn the bill preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying in California.

He did so in light of the fact that the federal court refused to allow the release of videotapes of the trial. So, to give the public a true account of what happened behind closed doors, Black's resulting script combines and presents the actual arguments and witness testimonies from the court proceedings.

But, he also uses a readers' theater format, so the shows are performed by local actors while reading directly from the documented material, with scripts in hand and appropriate staged movement. This is a style that's known as verbatim theater re-enactment, using the actual transcripts, but with added threads of dialogue and interaction to tie it all together in play form in a theatrical setting.

So, the words of the plaintiffs, the lawyers, the judge, the witnesses, the court clerk and others directly involved in various interviews and related events concerning the case, will be shared without taking sides. It's simply there for the audience to listen to and ponder on their own.

The HSU cast will feature a number of talented university faculty and students, as well as veteran community actors.

They include James McHugh, Catherine L. Brown, Sam Machado, Shea King, Michael Fields, James Floss, James Hitchcock, Christina Jioras, Michael Thomas, Maggie Gallager, JM Wilkerson, and Elisa Abelleria.

Katie Dawson did the scenic design; Dion Howard, the costumes.

Department chair Margaret Kelso said that they are honored and excited to be a site to present this remarkable, timely performance.

"This is the trial we did not get to see," "8" director Clink Rebik added.

But, you can indeed see it during its intriguing, one-night-only performance in the HSU Van Duzer Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $5 at the door, with all proceeds donated to The American Foundation for Equal Rights.

HSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion as well as Associated Students provided additional funding for the show.

A panel discussion with the audience will immediately follow the approximately 90-minute performance.

If you go

What: A reading of "8"

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: HSU Van Duzer Theatre

Admission: $5

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