by Nancy Holley
8 is a docudrama depicting both sides of the controversial issue of same-sex marriage. Using transcripts from the trial in Federal District Court and interviews with those involved including the plaintiffs, Dustin Lance Black chronicles the fight for marriage equality, which began when the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER) challenged the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.
The Visalia Players are supporting AFER’s efforts through two fund-raising performances of 8 on November 2 and 3. Director Corey Ralston is very excited about the opportunity to bring 8 to the Ice House stage. Marriage equality is an issue dear to Ralston’s heart. “For so many years, marriage was not an option, and now it is so near we can almost taste it.”
Interest in 8 varies among cast members, but Wyleen Luoma, who portrays Charles Cooper – Republican Lawyer of the Year in 2010, presented a unique scenario. Luoma has seen the show performed and believes that Cooper’s role was not given the characterization it deserves. While Cooper’s political persuasions are very different from Luoma’s, she believes that “his role in the trial deserves humanity and dignity.”Elicia Russell, who is heterosexual, is very enthusiastic about being cast in the role of Sandy Stier. Sandy and her partner Kris Perry are two of the four plaintiffs in the case. Russell believes that “marriage should be between two people who are in love” regardless of their gender, race, or creed. “God made us the way we are and we should honor that.”
“Judge Walker’s ruling was so amazing, logical and practical, that I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to portray the judge,” exclaims Sergio Garza. “He was so careful to make certain that the ruling was based on the facts, keeping everything in perspective.”
8 is offered free of royalties to community theatre groups to “spur dialogue, understanding and action about marriage equality.” One of AFER’s requirements for production of 8 is a “talk-back” discussion with the audience at the end of each performance. For the productions at the Ice House, the discussions will be spearheaded by a panel of four individuals from the community who will join the cast in discussing with audience members reactions to the play’s message. Ralston notes that the discussions will be important opportunities for people to gain a greater understanding of the issues.
The timing of the Players’ production of 8 is significant, coming on the eve of another election. Four years ago, on November 4, 2008, California became the 29th state to ban same-sex marriage through a statewide ballot measure. Shortly thereafter, AFER was founded, “dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American.”
AFER challenged the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. In January, 2010, Attorneys Olson and Boies, who were opponents in Bush v. Gore, teamed to argue the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 in Federal District Court. Their efforts proved successful when the District Court ruled on August 4, 2010, that “Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”
—U.S. District Court
8 runs for TWO nights only at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3, 2012. Tickets are $14 for general admission; $7 for students with a student body card.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
Watch for a new Local Live every Wednesday evening at 7!