By Devin Rose
For the first time in its history, the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association is producing a staged reading of a play about Proposition 8, an amendment restricting marriage to homosexual couples that was overturned earlier this year.
The play 8 is an account of the federal district court trial of Perry v. Brown, formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The case was filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights to overturn Proposition 8, which took away the freedom to marry from gay and lesbian Californians, according to a statement from OPALGA.
The play was written by AFER founding board member Dustin Lance Black, who based it on the actual trial transcripts, courtroom observations and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
Brad Bartels, an OPALGA member and production managing producer for the show, said OPALGA became interested in the performance last winter. It was making its way from New York to Los Angeles, so the group looked into who was producing it in Chicago. They got in touch with AFER and Broadway Impact, an organization of theater artists in support of marriage equality, and the groups began to work together.
OPALGA is collaborating with 16th Street Theater in Berwyn, as well as Circle Theatre and Oak Park Festival Theatre in Oak Park. The show's director, Ann Filmer, founded 16th Street Theater.
Bartels said the show's organizers will bring in speakers to talk about marriage equality so the show also serves as an educational event. He said they believe that the issue needs to be legislatively addressed in Illinois, and they hope this will bring awareness as well as support.
Marriage equality for same sex couples in Illinois is "somewhat elusive," Bartels said. "We are sitting there as second class citizens in a first-class country." But with the recent victories toward marriage equality for same-sex couples in Maryland, Minnesota, Washington and Maine in the most recent election, "that tide has started to turn and that is very important," Bartels said.
Filmer could not be reached for comment, but said in the statement she was "incredibly moved" when she first read the play. Hearing the debate about gay marriage made her realize just how powerful love can be, she said.
OPALGA wanted to bring 8 to Oak Park because of its ability to create a bridge to the broader community and create allies for the cause. It helps provide understanding in a way that hearing about it or reading it might not, Bartels said.
A casting call for the stage reading will happen later this year. The reading will be performed on March 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ernest Hemingway Museum, 200 N. Oak Park Ave.
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