8 (play)

Official Poster
Written by Dustin Lance Black
Date premiered September 19, 2011 (Broadway)
March 3, 2012 (worldwide broadcast)
Place premiered Eugene O'Neill Theatre
Ebell of Los Angeles broadcast live on YouTube
Subject Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial reenactment using original court transcripts and first-hand interviews of the people involved
Genre verbatim theatre
documentary theatre
Official site

8 (or 8 the Play) is an American play that portrays the closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a federal trial that led to the overturn of Proposition 8—an amendment eliminating rights of same-sex couples to marry in California. It was created by Dustin Lance Black in light of the court's denial of a motion to release a video recording of the trial and to give the public a true account of what transpired in the courtroom.

The play is written in the style of verbatim theatre reenactment, using transcripts from the trial, journalist records, and media interviews from the plaintiffs, defendants and proponents involved. 8 first premiered on September 19, 2011 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City, and later broadcast worldwide from the Ebell of Los Angeles on March 3, 2012.[1][2] On October 22, 2012, a one-night-only reading was performed at the downtown Crest Theater in Sacramento, California, U.S.[3]

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, sponsors of the play, have licensed the play for readings nationwide on college campuses and in community theaters free of charge, as an educational tool.[4]

A radio adaptation was broadcast on JOY 94.9, a GLBTIQ community radio station in Melbourne, Australia, on March 27, 2014.


In May 2009, AFER filed a lawsuit, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of plaintiffs, two same-sex couples, to challenge a voter-approved constitutional amendment, known as Proposition 8, that eliminated same-sex couples' right to marry in the state.[5][6] The same-sex couples were represented by David Boies and former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, two high-profile attorneys who opposed each other in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Bush v. Gore.[7]

During the trial, the plaintiffs presented expert witnesses of which nine the court found "were amply qualified to offer opinion testimony on the subjects identified" and "offered credible opinion testimony on the subjects identified."[8] The defense presented only two expert witnesses who were willing to testify under oath. David Blankenhorn, who had been allowed to testify for the defense, was ultimately judged as lacking "the qualifications to offer opinion testimony".[8] During Blankenhorn's cross-examination, he identified 23 benefits of adopting same-sex marriage, published on page 203 of his book The Future of Marriage, stating only 5 with which he disagreed. Some of the benefits with which he did agree included that it would: improve the happiness and well-being of gays, lesbians, their children and family members; increase the proportion of gays and lesbians in stable, committed relationships; lead to higher living standards for same-sex couples; lead to fewer children growing up in state institutions and more growing up in loving adoptive and foster families; decrease the amount of anti-gay prejudice and hate crimes; and decrease the number of those warily viewed as "other" in society, further reaching the American idea.[9]

Kenneth P. Miller admitted that he lacked awareness of official anti-gay discrimination and harassment, anti-discrimination statutes, and scholarly literature on gay issues.[10] Due to his lack of focus on gay and lesbian issues in his research, his lack of basis for comparison, his lack of familiarity with relevant research, his inability to confirm he had "personally identified the vast majority of the sources that he cited in his expert report", and his admission that gays and lesbians face discrimination and "current discrimination is relevant to a group's political power", the court ruled that his testimony was "entitled to little weight...only to the extent...amply supported by reliable evidence."[8] Opponents of same-sex marriage were unable to provide credible evidence proving their claim that same-sex marriage would harm society or the institution of marriage.


The following is a list of the cast of characters, along with the actors that portrayed them in the play's premieres.

The Court

The Plaintiffs

  • Kris Perry[11]
  • Sandy Stier[11]
  • Spencer Perry – son of Plaintiff[11]
    • Bridger Zadina (Ebell of Los Angeles)
    • Jay Armstrong Johnson (Broadway)
    • Austin Laut (Sacramento)
  • Elliot Perry – son of Plaintiff[11]
    • Jansen Panettiere (Ebell of Los Angeles)
    • Ben Rosenfeld (Broadway)
    • Grant Laut (Sacramento)
  • Jeff Zarrillo[11]
    • Matt Bomer (Ebell of Los Angeles)
    • Matt Bomer (Broadway)
    • Thai Rivera (Sacramento)
  • Paul Katami[11]

Witnesses for Plaintiffs

Witnesses for Defense

Other Characters

See also


  1. Ng, David (March 4, 2012). "George Clooney, Brad Pitt lead all-star Prop. 8 play reading". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  2. "Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Martin Sheen headline West Coast premiere of marriage-rights play". Associated Press. March 5, 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  3. "Dustin Lance Black's "8" Comes to Sacramento - Sacramento Press". Sacramento Press. October 13, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  4. See
  5. McKinley, Jesse (May 27, 2009). "Bush v. Gore Foes Join to Fight Gay Marriage Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  6. "Complaint, Perry v. Schwarzenegger" (PDF). American Foundation for Equal Rights. May 22, 2009. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
  7. Brown, Willie (May 31, 2009). "Bush–Gore legal pair push gay marriage suit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  8. 1 2 3 Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 704 F.Supp.2d 921, 940 (N.D. California 2010).
  9. "Perry Trial Transcript Day 12: Blankenhorn testimony regarding 23 benefits of same-sex marriage begin on pg.12 marked 2846" (PDF). American Foundation for Equal Rights. afer.org. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  10. "David Boies cross-examining Kenneth Miller, Jan. 25 2010". YouTube. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 "The Characters". American Foundation for Equal Rights. afer.org. Archived from the original on January 11, 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
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