The Oklahoma Theatre Guild is taking part in a series of nationwide productions of the landmark marriage equality play, 8.
In cooperation with the Cimarron Alliance, OTG presents a one-night-only reading of 8, the 2011 play by Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk. The work chronicles the historic trial that successfully challenged California’s Proposition 8, which eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
Don Jordan, artistic director at City Rep, serves as co-producer with Stephen Hilton of Lyric Theatre, who will direct. They decided to produce 8 through OTG, making it a true community production.
“Stephen and I were thrilled and overwhelmed by the positive response from our creative community,” said Jordan. “We have representative talent from many of our leading cultural and educational institutions.”
Due to its cast of 20 and the desire to move quickly from rehearsal to stage on a limited budget, performing 8 as a staged reading has been the preferred production method nationwide.
“I also think it keeps the focus on the actual words of the real men and women involved in this case and on the larger issues of fairness, justice and equality under the law,” said Jordan.
More than just a dramatization of the trial, 8 makes use of the actual arguments and depositions.
“As in the case itself, when prejudice and injustice are held up to scrutiny, they tend to wilt,” Jordan said. “I do think that for any fair-minded person, the examination of this question through this legal proceeding leads us to move toward equality for all citizens.
“Marriage equality — like racial equality, gender equality, voting equality and religious equality — is simply the latest effort to make manifest our constitutionally mandated ‘more perfect union’ that allows for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
After the show, discussion with Scott J. Hamilton, Cimarron Alliance director, and Meredith Kemp-Pappan, Central Presbyterian Church pastor, will be held.
Hilton said he tells his students that theater needs to be relevant.
“Like Don, I’m a big believer in activist theater,” he said. “Theater which not only entertains, but which has a point, has a chance of changing people’s minds and perhaps their lives.”