The Advance-Titan

“8” celebrates LGBTQ equality

Amanda Kinnunen

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UW Oshkosh students, faculty and staff joined together to perform the production “8” as a celebration of success for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

“8” was written by David Lance Black and was produced by Broadway Impact and the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

According to an overview provided by Broadway Impact and AFER, the production is based on the transcripts and interviews of the Federal District Court’s trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, now called Hollingsworth v. Perry.

During this trial, AFER was able to overturn Proposition 8, which took away marriage rights gay and lesbian couples in California already had.

One thing that differentiates this production others is that rather than memorizing and performing the script, “8” is a scripted reading.

Senior David Kurtz, who played David Boies, the representative of the gay and lesbian couples, said while the audience may not have been used to the style of performance, he hopes they enjoyed it and appreciated what the style had to offer.

“Because we are holding on to our scripts, it limits our movement that we would normally be able to have in a regular production,” Kurtz said. “This forces us to use our voices better in communicating our message rather than our body.”

Gabriela Peterson played 45-year-old plaintiff Kris Perry, a lesbian fighting for her right to marry the woman she loves. She said this style had a benefit for the audience.

“Normally, audience members are used to seeing actors memorized and in full costume and makeup,” Peterson said. “With this style, it was much more simplistic and I believe, more relatable in that way.”

Peterson said she hopes members of the audience can find a way to relate to characters on a deeper level.

“This case, which was not initially accessible to the public, gives onlookers an intimate view of the real people who stood to defend their rights as U.S. citizens,” Peterson said. “These spotlights are vantage points into their thought processes, and I think makes them genuinely relatable. Most people at some point in their life have felt discriminated against, belittled, or torn down.”

Brad Skonecki played Charles Cooper, the defendants’ lawyer, and said he thought the production would give more insight to the audience on what Proposition 8 was.
“We hear all of these things on the media and we are supposed to form an opinion from them, but this play is unique because we get to hear the very words that were said at this trial,” Skonecki said. “It really helps give people more of an opinion on the subject matter.”

Skonecki said he was surprised at how ill-prepared lawyer Cooper was for the trial, having come to court with very little evidence to fight gay marriage.
“When you research about a man like this who is a professional lawyer and has won major trials, you don’t expect him to come into a court room and basically say ‘[same-sex marriage is] wrong and I don’t need to prove it because it’s just fact,’” Skonecki said.

Kurtz said “8” held an uplifting message and he now tries to bring that message with him outside of the show.

Oshkosh sophomore Gabrielle Hass attended and said she thought the message of “8” was important as well.

“As someone who has a lot of friends who are not straight, Proposition 8 is a huge portion of their, and our history, and it’s led to what I believe is only 12 states left in the union who have not, in some form, legalized gay marriage,” Hass said.

Hass said overturning Proposition 8 was one of the biggest stepping stones toward equality in California.

“It was the first state since Massachusetts I believe [to legalize same-sex marriage], and having a show that expands to people what had to go into this process in order to make it legal I think really important because people, even now, only five years later don’t realize how hard that was,” Hass said.

According to Hass, one thing students should realize is that discrimination of all sorts occurs around them every day, even if they don’t see it happen. Hass said she believes more people should get involved in the fight.

“[Just] because they haven’t personally experienced this kind of struggle, that doesn’t make it something they don’t have to worry about,” Hass said. “They still deal with the effects that it has on other people if they want to be a good person themselves.”

Dean of the College of Letters and Science John Koker played David Blankenhorn, a witness for the defense, and said he enjoyed working with the students.

“In particular, I feel lucky to be able to participate in productions like these with students,” Koker said. “They [work] hard and are quite talented.”

Though he is initially for Proposition 8, Koker said his character’s testimony is what inevitably helped change the direction of the trial. Through his answers, Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional and the right for same-sex marriage was restored.

“[“8”] has solidified my belief that love and respect are the core of marital relationships,” Koker said.

Koker said he hopes the production helped viewers realize tough issues can be debated in thoughtful and respectful ways.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
“8” celebrates LGBTQ equality