Play highlights marriage equality case from CaliforniaWhen a federal lawsuit in 2010 aimed to fight for marriage equality in California, cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom. But a new theater production is giving people a chance to envision what transpired.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
When a federal lawsuit in 2010 aimed to fight for marriage equality in California, cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom. But a new theater production is giving people a chance to envision what transpired.
The play, called “8,” features the story of a lesbian couple and a gay couple challenging the passing of Proposition 8, an initiative that took away the possibility of same-sex marriage in California. The play chronicles the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger by taking actual court transcripts and first-hand interviews to show both sides of the debate.
Written by Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black, “8” premiered in Los Angeles on March 3 this year. Soon, however, it will reach a much more local audience.
During Red Wing’s annual Diversity Festival next weekend, the Soapbox Players will present “8” at the Sheldon Theatre.
While a majority of the play will be presented as originally intended, director and Soapbox Players Board member Min MartinOakes was authorized to make one change. When she had difficulty finding enough male volunteers to act in the production, the director turned to females to fill some of the roles.
The concept — gender blind casting — was done for the part of defending attorney Charles Cooper. His character will be played by Jacqueline West, who said that she’s had fun with the role even though it’s not the easiest.
“It’s always a challenge to play a part that isn’t anything like yourself,” she said.
West has only been in one other Soapbox Players production in the past, but knew she wanted to participate when the group took on “8.”
“It’s an issue that I feel strongly about,” she said, adding that she has several friends who are affected by marriage inequality.
Although it’s the opposite of how she feels, West is playing a character who defends the idea of keeping marriage rights away from gays and lesbians. But, she said, even Cooper realizes his argument won’t win.
“I think that he knows that it’s a losing battle by the end of the case,” she said. “Everything starts to fall apart under him.”
West joins a cast of 16 actors and actresses who portray the characters present in a single courtroom.
Although the subject matter is no doubt serious, MartinOakes said the play will provide a variety of entertainment.
“There are certainly funny moments,” she said, “because there’s funny moments in life.”
There are powerful moments as well, she added.
“It’s very moving,” MartinOakes said. “The first time we all got together as a cast and read the script, there were tears.”
The public can experience the laughter, the tears and the history of the case at 7 p.m. Sept. 8 in the Sheldon Theatre.
If you go…
What: “8” play put on by Soapbox Players and sponsored by Red Wing PFLAG
When: 7 p.m. Saturday Sept. 8
Where: Sheldon Theatre
Cost: $17.50 for adults, $11.50 for students
More info: 651-388-8700 or www.sheldontheatre.org