American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

The Impact of Taking “8” Across the Country

Post by Jenny Kanelos, co-founder and executive director of Broadway Impact

The play “8” began as an idea—an idea that through theater, hearts could be changed, minds could be awakened and new activists could be born.

Rory O’Malley, Gavin Creel and I are proud to team up with AFER to bring this incredible story to life, finally showing the world the compelling case for equality that Ted Olson and David Boies made behind closed courtroom doors.

Our goal for this project has always been to put it in the hands of the people and get communities talking about equality. AFER and Broadway Impact were thrilled to live stream the Los Angeles premiere and are now excited to be licensing “8” to universities, community and regional theaters free of charge.

The response has been overwhelming. We have booked 186 readings to date in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Italy and Zimbabwe. 42 readings have taken place since our Broadway debut back in September and each day we speak to more people looking to bring the project to their community.

We are especially committed to bringing “8” to states facing challenges to marriage equality.

In New Hampshire, 5 readings were performed leading up to the March vote on legislation that would have repealed marriage equality. Students at the University of New Hampshire became incredibly active leading several phone banks that were in direct response to seeing “8.”

In North Carolina, 11 readings were held in advance of the vote on Amendment One and my co-founder Gavin and I traveled down to participate. We met amazing people there, including the openly gay Mayor of Chapel Hill, Mark Kleinschmidt, who performed in two of the readings and spoke passionately in the talkbacks.  We met long-time activists in Asheville and students at UNC who were organizing themselves and the community. We even had a lively discussion with people who opposed marriage equality in a small southern town.

We have been inspired by several unexpected places that have put on readings. From international performances in Zimbabwe and Australia to small towns in Montana, Texas, Kentucky and Georgia, new pins are continually being added to our map.

It has been great to travel to some of the locations and witness the readings first hand. Gavin and I ventured to Harvard University, where he led the cast at the famous American Repertory Theater, and just recently we enlisted help from some talented friends to headline a production at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia.  We stopped by a reading at Towson University in Baltimore on our way south and participated in a talkback in New Jersey just over the bridge from our home in New York City.

Several high schools have even stepped up to the plate and tackled “8” to rave reviews, including one in St. Paul, MN where youth advocates spoke out about the heated battle in their state.

We are now gearing up for major readings in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State, all with the intention of making sure people in these places know about their Constitutional right to marriage and about what happened when discrimination was put on trial.

We hope “8” will continue to inspire action, create change and bring people together to stand up for equality everywhere. This project truly is a labor of love and passion for all of us at Broadway Impact and AFER and we are incredibly grateful for all of the people across the country that are willing to stage a reading, start a discussion and become a part of the movement. We hope you will join us! To stage a reading or find one near you go to: