Katy Snyder/ The Daily Evergreen Friday night, 21 actors will take the stage for one night only to share the story of the Proposition 8 trials in a free staged reading of the play, “8.”
“8” is written by Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the screenplay for “Milk” and “J. Edgar”. Mary Trotter, a faculty advisor for STAGE, the student theater group, is responsible for bringing “8” to WSU.
“‘8’ is all about the Proposition 8 trials,” Trotter said. “When they voted yes on Prop. 8, that took away marriage rights for gay couples. Usually in a court procedure like that, they publicize the proceedings, but they didn’t do that for Prop. 8 — they voted against it. What (Black) did was he took his experience, the actual transcripts from the court proceedings and interviews with the people involved, and he wrote this play.”
Trotter said “8” started on Broadway to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group that promotes marriage equality. The group released the play rights, free of charge, to colleges nationwide to educate the public about the events surrounding Prop. 8.
WSU is one of the first colleges to showcase this production.
Senior broadcast production major Vanessa Banta will be portraying the character Maggie Gallagher.
“Gallagher is actually one of, if not the only character in the show who is for Proposition 8,” Banta said. “She is an activist and she works for the Coalition of Marriage.”
Banta said her part is a rare opportunity because she gets to play a character that has views completely opposite to her own. Trotter said an interesting part about the play is how the actors find ways to relate to their characters’ views, however different from their own they may be.
“I think people will hate me, and that is actually exciting,” Banta said.
The performance will be a stage reading, with scripts in hand and minimal lighting.
“It’s an interesting challenge as an actor, because we have to make something interesting while reading from scripts in binders,” Banta said.
Even more interesting is the fact that the actors are portraying real people — those who were involved in the Prop. 8 trials, Trotter said. To research their characters, the actors also watched recorded interviews with the people they were portraying in the show.
Carrie Jewett, a senior sociology and Spanish major, will portray Kristin Perry, a plaintiff in the Prop. 8 trials.
“The great thing about these characters is that the plaintiffs are just like everybody else,” she said. “They are regular, ordinary people who only want to be able to get married. It’s been really easy to understand the motivations of my character because she is very family-oriented and she just wants to have a normal family like everyone else in the United States.”
It is Trotter’s hope that “8” will stimulate the audience into discussing the issues surrounding the play in a talk-back panel after the show. The panel will be mediated by Andrew Russell, artistic director at the Intiman Theater in Seattle.
“We have Charlene Strong, Washington State’s Human Rights Commissioner,” Trotter said. “We also have a lawyer on the panel as well to represent the legal side of it. I am waiting for final confirmation, but we do have a local reverend from an open and affirming church to come and speak.”
Trotter said, the goal of the project is to fight for marriage equality. She said the creators wanted to present the arguments used during the Prop. 8 and let the facts speak for themselves.
The stage reading and following talk-back discussion will take place free of charge at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Jones Theater in Daggy Hall.