UT to host California Proposition 8 playWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
This fall, the University of Toledo will host “8,” a play about the challenges to California’s Proposition 8.
“8” chronicles Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown) filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) in opposition to an amendment taking away Californians’ same-sex marital rights. Jennifer Rockwood, assistant dean and director of the First Year Experience program and UT theater veteran, acquired rights to the play.
“The trial was never publicized; people need to know what went on,” Rockwood said.
In August 2010, the Federal District Court struck down Proposition 8, but proponents of the amendment have appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Same-sex marriage is still banned in Ohio.
Rockwood received funding for the show from the President’s Lecture Series on Diversity. Equality Toledo will present a feedback session at the end of the performance.
“Jennifer asked us if we wanted to participate and, of course, we did,” said Sherry Tripepi, executive director of Equality Toledo. “I hope we raise awareness and start dialogue about gay marriage.”
Casting for the 22-person play is ongoing.
“It’s not all settled yet. I’m hoping to get local celebrities and friends who are actors and give it a better splash,” Rockwood said, adding that students and activists are welcome to contact her. Larry Dean Harris, a Los Angeles playwright and actor, will also join the performance.
“8” was written by Dustin Lance Black, who wrote screenplays for “Milk” and “J. Edgar.” AFER and Broadway Impact, a community-conscious theater group, decided to license the performance to 40 college and community theaters for free.
“This play will continue to show Americans — one by one — that prejudice and fear cannot stand up to truth and justice,” said AFER Board President Chad Griffin in a news release.
The process for getting the rights was intense, Rockwood said.
“I had to send in a lot of info about how I would do it and my plans and the support I would get,” she said. “I’ve been working on this since August, I’ve been pounding the keyboard.”
Rockwood, who taught theater for 29 years, estimated that she has directed 70 plays.
“I live, breathe and eat all sides of the classroom and all sides of the stage,” Rockwood said.
At present, UT and Ohio Wesleyan University are the only Ohio locations for the performance. The Los Angeles show in March will feature George Clooney.
For more information, call Rockwood at (419) 530-2330. The performance is at 8 p.m. Oct. 6 at UT’s Doermann Theatre, 2801 Bancroft St. Admission is free, but Broadway Impact donations will be accepted.