By Anna Peirano
George Clooney and Brad Pitt starred in Saturday’s staged reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8,” the theatrical retelling of court battle Perry vs. Schwarzenegger to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Additional celebrities comprised the remainder of the cast, including: Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, John C. Reilly, Matt Bomer, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Chris Colfer, and others. The cast comprised of 20 actors in total, reading from scripts.
Pitt played Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, while Martin Sheen and George Clooney played attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies. The actors had a limited rehearsal schedule, meeting the morning of to read through the play twice before the evening performance.
Black adapted the play from a combination of actual trial transcripts, first hand observations of the proceedings, and interviews with plaintiffs and their families. In 90 minutes, the reading covers 12 days in court.
Nearly 1,200 people were in attendance at the one-time performance, including Barbara Streisand, Sofia Vergara, Sally Field, Vanessa Williams, and Gavin Newsom. Nearly $2 million was raised for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization that spearheaded the original court case in 2010.
Black said in a statement that he has built his career around exposing and uncovering the real story of what happened during the Proposition 8 trial. “People need to witness what happened…if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter,” he said in a statement. “The goal of 8 is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right and that those who would deny this basic freedom from loving, committed couples have only vitriol and baseless hyperbole to fall back on. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light.”
In February, the United States Court of Appeals upheld Judge Walker’s decision declaring California’s ban as unconstitutional. However, the case is expected to be appealed and could end up in the Supreme Court. Gavin Newsom, a strong proponent of marriage equality, believes that is exactly where the decision belongs. He said, “We can’t have a patchwork of states deciding this issue.”
The entire performance is available for view in the video below. Jump to 30 minutes for the beginning of the play.