“8” drew emotional reactions from CWC Arts Center Theatre audience Sunday in Riverton

The 21 cast members on stage reading Wyoming's only performance of the play "8" Sunday afternoon at Central Wyoming College. (Ernie Over photo)

The 21 cast members on stage reading Wyoming’s only performance of the play “8” Sunday afternoon at Central Wyoming College. (Ernie Over photo)

By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Wyoming premiere and only statewide performance of the Dustin Lance Black play of “8” was performed Sunday afternoon at the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Theatre at Central Wyoming College. The 21 actors in the performance read the play, which is the account of the Federal District Court trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Hollingsworth v. Perry) that overturned California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay and lesbian marriages in that state. The trial judge at the time banned television and Internet broadcast of the proceedings. The play is based on the “actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama, and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families,” according to the playbill. “This play lets you see and hear what really happened in that courtroom.”

An appeal of that decision is to be heard in the United States Supreme Court on March 26th.

Following the performance, the audience participated in a dialogue on the issue, which followed Wednesday’s CWC Hot Topics session on the subject of marriage equality. As in Wednesday’s event, the topic of “inalienable rights as granted by God” was a discussion point brought forward in defense of marriage between a man and a woman. However the majority of testimony from the audience was both filled with praise for the college theatre department for presenting the play, as it was emotional as two cast members came out in front of the audience, and one cast member said her daughter was a lesbian now living out of state.  The mother and father of one gay man tearfully talked about their love and support they had for their son and they talked of the struggles he’s had. One man talked about his father and three mothers and how difficult it was for him to see prejudice leveled at his lesbian mothers. Cast members who identified themselves as the children of pastors who grew up in Christian homes said that while they favored marriage in the traditional sense for themselves, they did not have objections to gay marriages. One also said she now believed that sexual orientation is not a choice, as she was taught, but something that is there from birth.

The West Coast premier reading of “8” was streamed live on YouTube and has been viewed more than a million times, according to the playbill. Video of the performance is permanently available here.

NOTE: County 10 managing editor Ernie Over was the facilitator of the audience participation portion of the CWC performance.