Theater chatter: '8' puts legal testimony at center stage
Does anyone else find the use of "proposition" odd when used to mean something that will become legally absolute?
Webster makes the point that a proposition is "something set forth for consideration" and sometimes "an immoral or indecent proposal."
The irony of this statement in juxtaposition with Proposition 8 in California is rather glaring. The very charming Dustin Lance Black is a prolific screenwriter, producer, director probably best known for his Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Milk.
After joining David Boise and Ted Olson in leading the federal case against this California law, which denies marriage rights to same sex couples, Lance warmed a courtroom bench and took notes throughout the real legal battle that challenged Prop 8, now before the U.S. Supreme Court. He read the court transcripts and merged the comments of the judge and courtroom attorneys with the testimony of witnesses (both from depositions and testimony) into a startling and informative new play, "8."
So far, he has dodged requests from film producers to rewrite this as a movie, has waived all live performance fees, and has shepherded this project through 400 readings across widespread regional theaters. The premiere L.A. cast included George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Kevin Bacon, and Jane Lynch.
Last week at the Civic Theater, New Orleans got its opportunity to see this production. With 26 readers who are staged to sit and then walk to multiple podiums as the script progresses, this is a monumental play to pull off, but fortunately, we had the local chops to rather knock your socks off (though most of the audience was way too fashionable to wear socks with their Gucci's.)
It was powerful on many levels; the writer stayed true to exact quotations, which was often alarming. I felt there must be a bias written in by this passionate young gay man who is smart, looks like Justin Beiber, and believes passionately in equal marriage rights. How could he not be biased? But the words are reportedly exact, often just as idiotic, mean-spirited and bigoted as they fell out of the characters' mouths on stage that night.
Caveat: It's really difficult to figure out the legal arguments on either side, based on the courtroom testimony. Several post-show conversations in the lobby were trying to sort this out. Even the judge scratched his head looking for a "legal needle in the mushy haystack of argument."
I had a chance to ask Lance about the popular societal argument most often posed by some of his adversaries that, with gay marriage, "we will no longer procreate and the world will come to an end," which to the generation of Sunday School used-to-be's can't be just brushed aside. Charming Lance first told his friend he liked me because I was candid (or maybe blunt); then, he just belly laughed and stated that all his lesbian friends are getting pregnant, but they can have two wombs deployed at once.
You have to admit....
Barbara Motley writes about the local theater community for NolaVie.