Montclair State to Present the NJ Premiere of “8”

A one-night-only staged reading of 8, the powerful play about the federal district court trial contesting the Proposition 8 voter ban in 2008 on same sex marriages in California, will have its New Jersey premiere at Montclair State University on Saturday, March 24 at the L. Howard Fox Theatre. Open auditions for the play’s 21 roles will be held on Sunday, February 12, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Room 125, Life Hall.

The 90-minute play, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, is based on the trial transcript, first-hand observations of the courtroom proceedings, and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families. At the 2010 trial, the judge ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. That decision was upheld in a highly anticipated decision on February 7 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard an appeal filed by opponents of gay marriage.

8 had its much heralded, single-night Broadway debut last fall with an all-star cast that included Morgan Freeman, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Anthony Edwards, Rob Reiner, and Christine Lahti, among others. George Clooney has signed on to appear in a reading of 8 in Los Angeles on March 3.

Patrick King, a senior majoring in theatre production design, is producing the Montclair State reading as his senior class project. The director is Michael Allen, assistant professor of stage/production and arts management, and deputy chair of production in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State, who is also overseeing King’s senior project.

After seeing 8, King spoke with Allen about bringing the play to Montclair State, and together they applied to the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, which own the rights to the play. AFER and Broadway Impact license 8 to colleges and community theaters nationwide to spur action, dialogue, and understanding.

Anyone with acting experience is welcome to try out at the auditions—students, faculty, staff, and others from inside and outside the campus community. While many of the play’s characters are middle-aged or older Allen says, “We’ll try to cast people who are age appropriate, but we’ll also use students.” Roles include those of the judge, lawyers arguing the case, a number of plaintiffs, opponents of same sex marriage, and others connected to the trial.

The sparse, simple set for the play will suggest a courtroom, with the actors wearing street clothes, sitting on stools, and reading from scripts on music stands. Projected images and videos will be part of the multi-media show.

Tickets are available at the Kasser Theater box office. Seating is limited