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Staged Reading of Play '8' Set for University of Miami

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A play that chronicles the historic constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8 will be performed as a staged reading on Jan. 27 at Miami Law. Written by Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Milk," the production of "8" will be staged under license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, and directed by Marc Fajer, a member of the law school's faculty who has more than thirty years of theatrical directing experience.

The performance is being arranged by OUTlaw, a student organization at Miami Law that seeks to advance the priorities of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community on campus.

"8" is a gripping reenactment of the federal trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry), a case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the freedom to marry. Black, who also penned the film "J. Edgar" and wrote for the HBO series "Big Love," based "8" on trial transcripts, first-hand observations in the courtroom and interviews with plaintiffs and their relatives.

The performance will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Miami Law campus, in room E352. Tickets may be purchased online. All proceeds will benefit the SAVE Dade Foundation in its mission to raise awareness of rights and protections for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The cast of 20, selected from the law school's students, staff, faculty, alumni and their families, includes Professors Charlton Copeland and Bernard Perlmutter, as well as attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who graduated from Miami Law in 1997 and has won numerous accolades for her work in the LGBT community, including the Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2012.

The credits of the director, Professor Fajer, include "Macbeth," "The Comedy of Errors," "Side by Side by Sondheim," "Fires in the Mirror," and "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf," all staged at the University of Miami School of Law. He also directed "Troilus and Cressida" in New York and, last year, "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Theater of the American South in Wilson, N.C. "It is an honor for the School of Law to be chosen to be part of this nationwide series of events," Professor Fajer said. "Our production will be especially exciting because we are able to perform this courtroom drama in our own large formal courtroom and because we are doing so while the United States Supreme Court is considering the case."

"8" had a sold-out premiere on Sept. 19, 2011, in Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre. That production raised more than $1 million to support AFER's efforts to achieve full marriage equality under federal law. The play's West Coast premiere took place at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on March 3, 2012, with Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Martin Sheen in leading roles, and was directed by Rob Reiner. The reading brought in more than $2 million for the same cause.

"People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter," said Black, a founding board member of AFER. "The goal of '8' is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. AFER and Broadway Impact are doing all we can to help speed that process along."

Broadway Impact is an organization of theater artists and aficionados who support the goal of marriage equality. Last year, AFER and Broadway Impact began licensing "8" for free to colleges and community theatres to spur action, dialogue and understanding. The production at the University of Miami will be followed by a reception during which the cast, audience members, local activists and academics will be invited to discuss issues raised by the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.