Proposition 8 trial’s final moments presented in on-stage live reading at Redfern Arts Center
Perry v. Schwarzenegger’s closing arguments were the defining arguments of the case against anti-same sex marriage bill known as Proposition 8. The trial’s transcripts were hidden from the public; this was the case until the play “8” showed people what happened behind the closed doors of the California Supreme Court. The play was performed by KSC students and faculty at the Redfern Arts Center on Tuesday, March 20. In the lobby before the show, Monadnock Live Free and Equal Coalition had a table set up for petitions against N.H.’s House movement against same sex marriage.
Bridgett Hansel monitored the booth and said, “We are just taking name and emails down so that if this bill is not defeated, we have names and information to contact these people so they can contact their reps so they can keep working on this issue.” N.H. has had the right to marry whomever one may choose since 2009.
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The play was not a traditional play in which performers memorize lines and perform them with the help of memory and improvisation. This was a dramatic reading in which actors had the script in their hands and performed with their lines in front of them, glancing at both their fellow performers and their lines.
Alumni Chris Kelly commented on this style of performing as he portrayed Jeff Zarrillo.
“The difference between holding a book the whole time looking down, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to disengage from the audience. We were all encouraged to not memorize the lines but to be comfortable enough with them to look out at the audience especially since there are very poignant parts of the play that just read better for an audience if you’re not looking down at the book but directing your attention right at them,” said Zarrillo. At the start of the play, KSC Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Emile Netzhammer gave a speech about the play and its impact on the right to marry issue. “The fiery debate around Proposition 8 has brought attention to one of the greatest human rights issues of our time,” Netzhammer said.
The play opened with a commercial for proponents of Proposition 8 in which a child said to her mother she learned about gay marriage. It zoomed in on her and her mother’s faces as they both frowned with a message stating “Vote yes on Prop. 8.”
The lights lit up and the audience was introduced to Sandy Stier, played by Professor Kim Dupuis; Kristin Perry, played by Director of the Redfern Arts Center Shannon R. Mayers; and the couple’s two sons as they presented their dual lives in and out of court during the trial. The play was set in the Californian Supreme court as both proponents and opponents of Proposition 8 argued on the left and right sides of the stage.
The two sides brought in psychologists, victims of bigotry, and the couples against Proposition 8.
One major part in the play was proponent of Proposition 8 Maggie Gallagher whose role consisted of protesting against gay and lesbian couples and their rights to have a family. Senior Jessie Thomina Montville played the role and said, “She is a very righteous woman, and I don’t particularly agree with her on anything, so that was really challenging. I had to work against myself.”
The play had multiple arguments presented ranging from what defines a marriage, procreation versus love of another, to child protection and adoption.
Near the end of the play proponents were given a closing statement in which the audience clapped as lawyers Theodore Olson and David Boies, played by Professors Vaughn West and Don Wilmeth, in which every argument was ended.
At the end, an epilogue of the latest Prop. 8 developments was read aloud stating the federal court ruled Prop. 8 was unconstitutional and the ban on same sex marriage would not be upheld. After the play, applause and ovations roared from the crowd as if they were present when the verdict was announced for the first time. Some of the crowd returned for a panel discussion about Proposition 8 and the fight for equal marriage rights. The audience asked questions about the play, about the latest developments in N.H. for same sex marriage, and to congratulate the cast for their performance. Miguel Soares and his husband came from Boston to see this performance.
He said, “We’re married and this subject is directly involved with us.” He also said, “We wanted to see what it was like and we were delighted that we did.” Mayers directed the performance of “8;” she said, “When the Federation for Equal Rights approached us as the Redfern Arts Center, I became the producer of the event and at the time when we were casting it I was concerned that we wouldn’t have enough people. So I said, ‘I will step into a role I haven’t done in many years and be one of the actors.’”
Sophomore Julia Rasku attended the dramatic reading and said, “I really rather enjoyed it. I thought it was very well done and I was very stunned and I found myself royally pissed off at a majority of the cast that defended Prop 8.”
Ryan Loredo can be contacted at