Academy award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lace Black is unveiling his latest play “8,” which depicts the Proposition 8 trial, with an all-star cast on Broadway in New York City Sept. 19.
Under the direction of Joe Mantello, the play will be based on firsthand observations and transcripts that are augmented by interviews with participants on both sides of the trial. The 90-minute show will star such big names as Morgan Freeman, Anthony Edwards, John Lithgow, Christine Lahti, Rob Reiner, Larry Kramer and Marisa Tomei.
As a board member of American Foundation for Equal Rights, Black was in the audience of the federal courtroom in San Francisco last year in support of a movement to overturn California’s gay marriage ban.
He began working on the play even before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. While watching the events of Prop 8 unfold, Black said he became concerned about the trial’s visibility as Prop 8 backers succeeded in getting the U.S. Supreme Court to not allow broadcasting of the case.
"I wanted to make it fair. I wanted to bring both sides' best argument," Black said. "If anything, I think it's overly fair to the opposition."
The cast of “8” is pro-gay marriage. However, they are prepared for roles that are against gay marriage and the criticism they may face.
Former West Wing star Bradley Whitford is cast as Charles Cooper, the chief attorney for gay marriage. Rob Reiner, producer of “When Harry Met Sally,” will play David Blackenhorn, president of Institute for American Values. The two actors are anticipating hisses and boos from audience members who are is likely to disagree with their roles.
Reiner was in court to see Blackenhorn testify, so he knows his depiction will be meaningful, he said.
"If the world sees what happens in this trial, they'll realize that the other side simply had no case. They presented no evidence and the witnesses that they did present made our case for us,” Reiner told the Associated Press.
“8” will be licensed to schools and community organizations. Black is hoping the play will show at universities and local theaters, as his goal is to spur action, dialogue and understanding.
Black is known for his work on HBO’s “Big Love” as well as “Milk,” the influential film from 2008 about the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk.