Most are familiar with California’s Proposition 8, the state’s ban on gay marriage. Most are aware that various courts have considered its constitutionality and it’s even made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But until recently, most were unable to view the court proceedings. Video cameras were removed from the courtroom and only transcripts were released. Playwright and former Utah Pride Festival Grand Marshal Dustin Lance Black used transcripts and interviews with journalists, lawyers and participants to create a reenactment of the proceedings. His work, 8, opened on Broadway and later in Los Angeles where the star-studded cast reading was broadcast on YouTube for the world to see. The broadcast included actors Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jamie Lee Curtis, Matthew Bomer, Kevin Bacon and many others.
The rights to the play were released so colleges and community theaters could perform the work free of charge. Utah Valley University student David Beach started a grassroots campaign to obtain the rights and perform the play at the Orem school. The play will run March 29-30 and tickets are available at UVU Campus Connection.
We spoke with Beach, who will direct the play, about how he got involved and why he decided to bring it to UVU.
QSaltLake: How did you get involved in the project?
David Beach: I saw the live YouTube stream of the Los Angeles Cast of 8. There was this beautiful moment between Kris and Sandy and at that moment I said I would direct that show. It put the whole Proposition 8 controversy in a different light. All of a sudden it wasn’t about gay marriage or gay love; I realized it’s about love and commitment. That night I got on the 8 website and saw the rights were available. I immediately applied for them then got in contact with the Spectrum Club (the queer-straight alliance) at UVU.
QSL: Why did you decide it was important to have the play at UVU?
DB: The story of 8 has a beautiful message. I wanted to share that beauty with my fellow classmates and hope that they will be moved as I was.
UVU also has a reputation and nickname of BYU-Orem. By doing this on campus, I hope to remind students that there is a different point of view on campus and unify the student body.
QSL: Was it difficult to get the rights to perform it?
DB: Not at all. They were so excited we applied for them especially when they did a little research on the school and a few key people in the administration.
QSL: Who is sponsoring the play?
DB: UVU Spectrum Club is the official sponsor, but other clubs and individuals throughout the community have stepped up to the plate: UVU Gender Studies, BYU Understanding Same-Gender Attraction, the [UVU] Theater Department, just to name a few. The Matrons of Mayhem helped us through their February Third Friday Bingo.
QSL: Is the performance more for UVU students, the Utah County community, all of the Wasatch Front or a blend?
DB: Anyone who wants to attend is welcome to participate, whether as a cast member or just coming to see the reading.
QSL: UVU is no stranger to controversy on campus. Was there difficulty in getting administrative approval?
DB: That’s where things got a little tricky. I approached the Spectrum Club about doing it. So rather than running through an academic department and the administration, it ran through UVU Clubs and UVU Student Affairs.
QSL: Have you seen or do you expect backlash about the play’s content?
DB: We had a little bit of pushback right at the beginning, but we’ve had more positive support more than anything. Every professor I have mentioned it to has been excited about it. I think they have realized that we are using it as an educational tool and a chance to open up a much needed discussion. UVU is a public institution and there isn’t a reason not to let it happen.
I would like to thank UVU President Holland for allowing us this opportunity to be engaged in the learning process.
QSL: When can we see it and how do we get tickets?
DB: The readings will take place in the UVU Science Auditorium on March 29 at 7:30 p.m. and March 30 at 2 p.m.
Tickets will be available starting next week at UVU Campus Connection. There will also be tickets available at door.