June 27, 2013 (Cleveland, Ohio) – With the United States in perpetual debate over the gay marriage topic, Cleveland’s Corey Atkins (Cleveland Play House Artistic Associate—Engagement) shared his thoughts regarding CPH’s groundbreaking reading of “8”. Atkins is at the helm as director of this special production, which will run one night only on Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 5:00 p.m at the Allen Theatre in PlayhouseSquare.
Written by Oscar winning writer Dustin Lance Black, “8” is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry. The 21-person cast features some of Cleveland’s best local actors as well as some surprises.
“The recent breaking news that the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of Proposition 8 is great news – but we all know the work is far from over. That is the case with both marriage equality, and this special benefit performance of “8” as well,” says Atkins.
Atkins shared these thoughts with usedview.com.
Kate Miller: What attracted you to this project?
Corey Atkins: There are 2 things that I think make this a great endeavor for Cleveland Play House (CPH). The first is that it’s in conversation with our current moment. We choose to produce the mainstage season that we do because we feel like each play is in conversation with the region we serve in some way, and “8” is no different. It’s a great way to continue our goal of being a community conversation leader. The second is the piece itself. Because the script is largely taken from the actual court transcripts, as well as interviews and firsthand courtroom observation, it literally tells the story of an unprecedented legal case in the participants’ own words. The very structure of a courtroom, where the point is for both sides to present their arguments and let a jury of peers decide, means that the play has the same ultimate function: both sides are heard, and the jury—the audience, in this case—gets to decide what they think about the case for marriage equality.
KM: Who will be in your 21-person cast?
CA: We’re thrilled to have such a unique blend of talent, from representatives of other theatres and educational institutions, great local actors, and people you might not expect to see in a play at CPH – like Rep. Nickie Antonio, Cash Mob creator Andrew Samtoy, Councilman Joe Cimperman, and Christopher “Kory” Beale of Cleveland’s New 102 (102.1FM). (Full list below).
KM: Over two dozen local community, educational and arts organizations are partnering to support this project. Why do you think that so many organizations in Cleveland have rallied around this project?
CA: We’re so thrilled at the tremendous community coalition that has formed around this project. That was a primary goal from the start—to engage other social and arts organizations and leaders, to help weave the ideas of the play throughout the community. This is obviously a very current topic, and I think people are excited to have their groups and members be a part of a public dialogue about what is arguably the most prominent civil rights question of this generation.
KM: What are the quirks of doing a court-based drama?
CA: I always think it’s interesting for an actor to play a real person—and in this case, real LIVING people! I think the set-up of a courtroom is also inherently dramatic. Just like every actor has an objective when they’re playing a scene—in any play—the participants in a court case do, too. The lawyers have a very clear objective they’re working toward when questioning a witness, to get that witnesses testimony to support their argument, or disprove the other side’s, for example.
KM: Why should people come see and support this piece?
CA: “8” is a great reminder that theatre’s very roots are as part of civic dialogue, a place to come together as a community and share in a story that impacts everyone in the theatre. One of the cast members told me that he’s had a lot of friends and peers say they’re interested in the play not because they have a clear or strong feeling about the issue, but precisely because they DON’T. They feel like they don’t have all the facts to be able to understand what is at the heart of the question of extending marriage equality to everyone, and they know that in less than 90 minutes, they’ll see laid out before them, in an arresting and impactful way, the literal facts of the Prop. 8 case, and the national question of marriage equality.
This special, one-night-only fundraiser event will be held in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare (1407 Euclid Ave.), Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now, at two levels: $25 public ticket (includes reading and post-show discussion), and a limited number of $100 premium tickets (includes priority seating for the reading, post-discussion and a private reception with cast and special guests). All net proceeds will be shared equally between the American Foundation for Equal Rights and the Cleveland chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
FOR TICKETS, call 216-241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com. All ticketing fees have been waived for this special charity event.
Andrew Samtoy: (Evan Wolfson)
Beth Wood: (Sandy Stier)
Cameron McKendry: (Elliott Perry)
Catherine Albers: (Maggie Gallagher)
Celeste Cosentino: (Court Clerk)
Charles Kartali: (Charles Cooper)
Chris Richards: (Ryan Kendall)
Christopher “Kory” Beale: (Broadcast Journalist)
Councilman Joe Cimperman: (Dr. Ilan Meyer)
Dan Kilbane: (Jeff Zarrillo)
David Hansen: (David Blankenhorn)
Heather Anderson Boll: (Kris Perry)
Jeffrey Grover: (David Boies)
Jimmie Woody: (Paul Katami)
Joel Hammer: (Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker)
Michael L. Mauldin: (Dr. Gregory Herek)
Miles Sternfeld: (Spencer Perry)
Peter Lawson Jones: (Theodore B. Olson)
Rep. Nickie J. Antonio: (Dr. Gary Segura)
Sarah Kinsey: (Dr. Nancy Cott)
Scott Spence: (Dr. William Tam)
Cleveland Stonewall Democrats
Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
Plexus – LGBT and Allies Chamber of Commerce
The AIDS Task Force of Greater Cleveland
Beck Center for the Arts
Cleveland Public Theatre
Culinary Occasions by Bob Sferra
Great Lakes Theater
LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
Baldwin Wallace University
CSU Department of Theatre & Dance
CWRU College of Arts & Sciences
CWRU LGBT Center
CWRU-University Hospitals AIDS Clinical Trials Unit
Log Cabin Republicans of Greater Cleveland
NEOH Alliance for College/University GSAs
Oberlin College Dept. of Theatre
R Strategy Group
CBS Radio with Cleveland’s New 102 on-air personality Kory