Press Releases

2012 Reading of Dustin Lance Black’s New Play “8”

January, 2012
Contact: Johnny Van Heest, Public Relations Manager
215.893.9456 x102


The Wilma Theater Announces Reading of Dustin Lance Black’s New Play “8”
The Wilma Theater joins nationwide productions of landmark marriage equality play by
Academy Award-Winning Screenwriter of Milk, J. Edgar 

Philadelphia – The Wilma Theater, in partnership with American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), R Families, The Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation, and Broadway Impact are proud to announce 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 AFER Founding Board Member and Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black. The reading will be held at The Wilma Theater on Broad and Spruce Streets on Monday, May 7, 2012 at 7:30pm. To purchase tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 215.546.7824. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go towards AFER.

“8” is an unprecedented 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 right to marry.

The Wilma Theater’s reading of ‘8’ by Dustin Lance Black will feature high-profile actors such as Randy Harrison who starred in Showtimes’s Queer as Folk, Philadelphia native Phillip Spaeth from NBC’s Smash, Tony® Award nominated actors, Gavin Creel from Hair, Hunter Bell from [title of show], Rory O’Malley from Book of Mormon, Forrest McClendon from The Scottsboro Boys and Charles Socarides from the Off-Broadway Sons of the Prophet. Celebrated, Philadelphia-based actors in the cast include Ross Beschler, Carla Belver, Keith Conallen, Janis Dardaris, Adam Darrow, Grace Gonglewski, Lynne Innerst, John Jarboe, Emilie Krause, Mary Martello, Steve Pacek, Katharine Slusar, Matteo Scammell, and Peter Schmitz.

Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the new critically-acclaimed 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.  

“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 one million dollars to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality. The play is set for multiple performances in 2012, including an all-star performance in Los Angeles on March 3, 2012 featuring Academy Award-winner George Clooney.

“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.”

In addition to its Broadway and Los Angeles productions, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing “8” to colleges and community theatres nationwide in order to spur action, dialogue and understanding.  AFER and Broadway Impact are helping produce these staged readings across the country with a full slate set for 2012. 

About The Wilma Theater’s decision to host the reading, Wilma Dramaturg Walter Bilderback, who will direct the reading, remarks, “It felt natural and unavoidable to present “8, since we’re working on Tony Kushner’s Angels in America at the same time. Although many people think of it as ‘an AIDS play,’ Angels is ‘a Gay Fantasia on American Themes,’ and one of the largest themes in the play is the promise of America. At the end of Perestroika, the second half of the play, Prior Walter says, ‘The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come.’ The right to get married is a fundamental aspect of citizenship, recognition that a society accepts a couple’s bond of love.”

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.”

Proposition 8 was struck down by the Federal District Court in August 2010.  That ruling was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8. AFER's legal team was at the Ninth Circuit in December 2011 for a hearing to urge that court to unseal the trial video.  The American public was not given a chance to witness the historic trial because the Proponents launched a desperate attempt to forever hide the video recording of the trial.  

A ruling on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the release of the trial video is expected soon.  The Perry case is widely anticipated to end up in the United States Supreme Court.