American Foundation for Equal Rights

Groundbreaking Play “8” Celebrates Production, Distribution Milestones


Manny Rivera 323.892.2081 or 

Play is Being Staged at More than 250 Theaters Around the World; Available for Free Licensing in Spanish

Los Angeles, CA – The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact announced today that Dustin Lance Black’s groundbreaking play “8” has been confirmed for 278 readings around the country and the world, and counting, with dozens of performances scheduled before the end of the year.  The organizations also announced that the script for “8” is now available for licensing in Spanish, expanding the reach of the impactful play to Spanish-speaking audiences around the world.

“From the moment we knew our trial would not be publicly broadcast, we were determined to find a way to address the public’s appetite for the facts, as argued before a court of law,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer.  “With 278 confirmed productions—including the all-star premieres on Broadway and in Los Angeles, and international performances in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—and many more expected with the script available in Spanish, people around the world will be able to witness truth and justice prevail over prejudice and fear. ”

“8” is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8.  Adopted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.

Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the film J. Edgar, based “8” on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama, and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.

The story for “8” is framed by the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the best arguments and testimony from both sides.  The anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 vigorously objected to a television and Internet broadcast of the proceedings of the historic twelve-day public trial held in January 2010.  Nevertheless, the Federal District Court, without objection from any party, recorded the proceedings on video.  That digital video recording is now under seal as part of the case record.

AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing “8” for free to regional, community and university theatres around the world in order to spur dialogue, understanding, and action.

“I was lucky enough to watch the initial closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in San Francisco,” says Broadway Impact co-founder Rory O’Malley (Tony Award-nominee for The Book of Mormon).  “We knew then and there that audiences needed to see and hear this story live, as we had done.  ‘8’ builds on a successful tradition of documentary theatre-plays like The Laramie Project and The Vagina Monologues, which inspire us with their combination of art and activism.  We are thrilled to partner with AFER to bring this story to a national audience.”

“8” had its much-heralded Broadway world premiere reading on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City.  The production featured an all-star cast including Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner Morgan Freeman; Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy Award-nominee John Lithgow; Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award-winner Christine Lahti; and Emmy Award-winner and Golden Globe Award-nominee Ellen Barkin.

The play had its West Coast premiere reading on March 3, 2012, at the sold-out Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles.  The production featured an all-star cast led by Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt as United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker; and Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen as Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the renowned attorneys who notably faced-off in Bush v. Gore.

The West Coast premiere reading of “8” was streamed live on YouTube and has been viewed more than a million times.  Video of the performance is permanently available at

The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009 in Federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo.  On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.  The United States Supreme Court will decide in the coming weeks whether it will review the constitutionality of Proposition 8.


About American Foundation for Equal Rights

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Brown and Perry v. Schwarzenegger), the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  After bringing together bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through Federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality. 

About Broadway Impact

Broadway Impact is the only grassroots organization of the theatre community and its fans mobilized in support of marriage equality.  In direct response to the passage of California’s Proposition 8 in November 2008, Tony Award-nominees Rory O’Malley (The Book of Mormon) and Gavin Creel (HAIR) and Production Coordinator Jenny Kanelos founded the organization to engage the theatre community in the fight for marriage equality.  Currently, Broadway Impact, in partnership with AFER, licenses and coordinates readings of Dustin Lance Black’s “8” at regional, community and university theaters around the world.  Broadway Impact was the recipient of the 2009 Human Rights Campaign Community Award and proudly operates under the fiscal sponsorship of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.