By Lauren Lola
From now to early November, Patch contributor/blogger Lauren Lola will be writing a mini-blog series on the production and development on CSU East Bay Theatre & Dance Department’s upcoming reading of “8.”
As a student at CSU East Bay, not only am I majoring in communication but I’m also pursuing a minor in theatre. As a theatre minor, one of the requirements that is listed for me to accomplish is to be involved in three theatrical productions; whether as an actress, a technician or as a member of the production team.
For a while I wasn’t sure how to go about it, in terms of what show to be a part of and what aspect of it I wanted to get involved in. Never would I have predicted that I would wind up being the producer and an actress for a fairly new play from Broadway Impact called “8.”
“8” is a documentary play written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (who’s primarily known for writing the biopic “Milk”). With a relatively small cast and a simple set, it’s a play about the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial that overturned Proposition 8, California’s legal definition of marriage that also bans same-sex marriage.
There was never any footage of the trial released to the general public and so, Black compiled trial scripts, journalists’ notes and interviews to come up with what is now “8.”
While it was first done in New York City in September 2011, I had never heard of it until last March, several days prior to a production of it being done in Los Angeles that would be live streamed via YouTube.
From reading an article about it from the Huffington Post, I learned what it was about and how a large number of Hollywood actors, such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jamie Lee Curtis and George Takei, have been casted in this one-night performance.
In addition, the article also provided a link to the play’s website along with a link on how to stage your own reading of it at your community or college theater. I found that to be cool to do, but I didn’t think much about it at the time.
A few days later I had a meeting with my theatre advisor Ann Fajilan and while we were discussing what classes I should take in the upcoming quarters, I asked her if the theatre department does any plays at all during the summer. She said yes but it depended on the budget of the department and that mostly readings were done.
As soon as I heard the word “readings,” that’s when a light bulb went off in my head. I asked Fajilan if she had ever heard of a play called “8” before and she said no and asked me what it was about.
Considering the fact that she directed the theatre department’s production of “The Laramie Project” last fall, I wasn’t surprised when she also got interested in pursuing this reading. I sent the links from the Huffington Post article to her later that evening and she contacted Broadway Impact right away.
For nearly four months we waited in anticipation to hear back from them. In between time, Fajilan and I would talk about when we would want to perform it and just how involved each of us would be. (It was during this time where it was decided that I would be the producer for the reading and Fajilan would be the director.
Finally, after hardly hearing a word from them all spring quarter and a few conversations with one of the members of Broadway Impact, in late June, we received the green light; we got the rights to “8”!
With fall quarter on the horizon, already Fajilan and I are making progress as far as getting this production up off the ground and on its feet. It’s scheduled to be performed on Sunday Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. in the main university theatre.
There will be a talk back after the show that will feature a member of CSUEB’s LGBT Club and two of the plaintiffs from the actual trial; Berkeley residents Sandy Stier and Kris Perry.
We’ve been getting quite a few students and faculty members interested in it already, including a student who’s transferring from Ohlone College this fall.
In addition, we plan to hold auditions for it during the second week of fall quarter and intend to perform a small segment from the reading during the Theatre & Dance Department’s upcoming 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Speaking as a producer and an actress, I’m glad there’s a play like this out there for people to do. Art has a way of sending a solid message out to others and what better way of saying that equality is for all than reenacting a move in the right direction in what many consider to be the last leg of the Civil Rights Movement?
I’m passionate for civil rights and I’m proud to be an LGBT ally. I have friends who are gay and bisexual and some of the people whom I admire are members of the LGBT community as well. I honestly don’t see why people who are in love with each other, regardless of what gender they are, can’t get married. I don’t even see how this became a political issue in the first place.
I was 16-years-old when Prop 8 passed so I wasn’t old enough to vote then. However, if I was, I would have voted no.
CSUEB’s production team for “8” is looking for people who are willing to contribute in any way they can. We’re looking for people to sell food during intermission, we need items for the raffle we’re going to hold, sponsorships and more. If you are interested in getting involved at all, please contact me.
For more information, click here: http://www.8theplay.com/readings/california-state-university-east-bay/.