LOS ANGELES — A star-studded benefit reading of of Dustin Lance Black’s play “8,” featuring Brad Pitt and George Clooney, raised more than $2 million Saturday night for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), and gave YouTube viewers around the world a rare glimpse into the historic trial of Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
More than 1,000 people filled the sold-out Wilshire Ebell Theatre for the live performance, while more than 250,000 viewers watched a live stream on YouTube.
The play, written by AFER board member and Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black, is framed around the Federal court case Perry v. Brown. The trial’s historic closing arguments from June 2010 were the basis of the play, and featured key arguments and testimony from both supporters and opponents of Proposition 8.
“People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter,” said Black, who won an Oscar for his screenplay of “Milk,” a 2008 biographical film of Harvey Milk.
“This play will continue to show Americans — one by one — that truth and justice can prevail over prejudice and fear,” said Chad Griffin, AFER board president, who last week was announced to succeed Joe Solmonese as the next president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
“Try as they might, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 cannot hide their discriminatory arguments from the American people. The fight to secure marriage equality is at the heart of our generation’s search for greater freedom — this play shows why.”
Saturday’s staged reading — in which actors read from scripts on a courtroom set — featured a 20-member cast that included Kevin Bacon, Martin Sheen, John C. Reilly, Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Chris Colfer, Jamie Lee Curtis and Matthew Bomer.
The play was directed by AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner.
If you missed the live webcast, you can view it here: