OAK PARK, IL, Oak Park Area Lesbian & Gay Association (OPALGA), with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, announcea a one-night-only reading of "8," a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black. The event will be March 10.
"8" is an account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry
Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the film J. Edgar, 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.
Late last winter, OPALGA solicited AFER and Broadway Impact to produce the play in Oak Park. Greg Raub, OPALGA Board of Directors Co-Chair stated, "Marriage equality is a tremendously important issue and one that we have worked on and championed for years. Shedding further light on the impact of denying rights to lesbian and gay families is critical if we want to build bridges of understanding with the broader community. This play is one way to build understanding, but more importantly help build support for marriage equality in Illinois."
OPALGA was founded in 1989 when a group of lesbians and gays living in the Village of Oak Park, Illinois (a collar suburb of Chicago, IL) come together to petition the Village's Board of Trustees to add sexual orientation to the Village's Human Rights Ordinance. In 1997, OPALGA worked with the Village's Board of Trustees to establish a Domestic Partnership Registry — the first in the state of Illinois. After it was enacted, opponents of the registry collected enough signatures to put an advisory referendum on the election ballet in 1998 to invalidate the Registry. OPALGA, in conjunction with a variety of Village organizations, successfully voted down the referendum. Not only was this a tremendous victory for the Oak Park community, it was the first time in the nation's history that a domestic partner registry survived a popular vote.
OPALGA is excited to collaborate on their production with three area theater companies, 16th Street Theater based in Berwyn, IL along with Circle Theatre and Oak Park Festival Theatre based in Oak Park, IL. Brad Bartels, Production Managing Producer, said, "We are every excited to be working with these excellent theater organizations. When we approached each of them, they were excited to help in any way possible.
One Night Only
March 10, 2013
Arts Center of Oak Park / The Ernest Hemingway Museum
200 N. Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois 60302
The stage reading will be directed by Ann Filmer. She is the Artistic Director for 16th Street Theater and has been directing in the Chicagoland area since arriving in Chicago in 1993. This past summer, Ms. Filmer completed her adaptation and direction of world-renowned visual artist Tony Fitzpatrick's trilogy with Nickel History: The Nation of Heat at The Steppenwolf Garage and last year she directed Kathleen Tolan's Chicago Boys for Goodman Theatre.
Ms. Filmer said about directing the reading, "I was incredibly moved reading the testimonies in the trial. Though it is a landmark case, I had not been exposed to the arguments for or against gay marriage until reading "8" the play. I was incredibly moved." She went on to say, "Seeing the debate about gay marriage makes me realize just how powerful love can be."
"8" had its much-heralded Broadway world premiere on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City. The production brought in over $1 million to support AFER's efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.
"8" had its West Coast premiere reading at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles. The West Coast premiere reading of "8" featured an all-star cast led by Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt as United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker; and Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen as Plaintiffs' lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson. The benefit reading was directed by AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner, and raised more than $2 million for the fight to secure full federal marriage equality.
"People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter," said AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black. "The goal of '8' is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. AFER and Broadway Impact are doing all we can to help speed that process along."
Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing "8" for free to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding. The production will followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. OPALGA is also planning additional events in January and February of next year to increase visibility of the struggle for marriage equality in the state of Illinois.
The story for "8" is framed by the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the best arguments and testimony from both sides. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments of trial, such as the admission by the 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."
On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark decision upholding the historic August 2010 ruling of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit concluded:
"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort."
Founded in 1989, OPALGA became one of the largest community-based, multi-purpose lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered membership organizations in Illinois. OPALGA's members live in Oak Park, surrounding suburbs and Chicago.
For over two decades, OPALGA has provided leadership and programming in three areas: (1) support for those persons questioning or exploring their sexual orientation, (2) advocacy on issues of non-discrimination, expansion of protections and civil rights and (3) providing venues for cultural expression unique to the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning) community.
Now in its third decade, OPALGA has refocused its mission, using its fundraising capacity to benefit other organizations that provide direct programming or advocacy services to the LGBTQ community.
About Ann Filmer (Director)
Ms Filmer arrived in Chicago in 1993 from San Jose, California and has never looked back. This past summer Ms. Filmer completed her adaptation and direction of world-renowned visual artist Tony Fitzpatrick's trilogy with Nickel History: The Nation of Heat at The Steppenwolf Garage. Last year she directed Kathleen Tolan's Chicago Boys for Goodman Theatre, Tony Fitzpatrick's Stations Lost (at Steppenwolf and The Boiler in Brooklyn) Marilyn Campbell's adaptation of The Beats, and Jorge Ignacio Cortinas' translation of Javier Malpica's Our Dad is in Atlantis for 16th Street. She also adapted and directed Our Holiday Stories by Elizabeth Berg, Rohina Malik and Tanya Saracho. Next she will direct Anupama Chandrasekhar's Disconnect for Victory Gardens.
Ms. Filmer has directed for Red Orchid (Brett Neveu's Eric LaRue), Shattered Globe (House of Blue Leaves), Live Bait (Us and Them), Stage Left (Spare Change, In Times of War), Circle (Golf), Chicago Dramatists, Collaboraction, Theatre on the Lake, Porchlight, The Aardvark, NIU and UIC. She has taught for Northwestern, DePaul and Acting Studio. While Producing Director of Chicago Dramatists, Filmer won an After Dark Award for her direction of John Green's The Liquid Moon. She is the editor of the anthology New Plays from Chicago, as well as the creator of Chicago's Estrogen Fest. Filmer founded 16th Street Theater in 2007 where she has directed Love and Drowning, Menorca, Kita y Fernanda, Fires in the Mirror, Unveiled and The Last Barbecue, among others.