Prop 8 On Trial


Prop 8 On Trial is based on the federal court case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenging the constitutionality of California’s Prop 8 that banned same-sex marriage. The trial, and ensuing appeals, will go down in the history books as the civil rights case of a generation, stirring vigorous public debate along the way.  The “Prop 8” trial that began on January 11, 2010 in federal court in San Francisco is a landmark case that marks the first time in the United States’ history, same-sex marriage was mentioned, let alone debated, by the federal courts.

While trials are inherently dramatic, the case prepared by Ted Olson and David Boies, nationally prominent attorneys who argued on opposite sides of the landmark Bush v. Gore, is a rhetorical Leviathan.  By including the deeply personal stories of the gay plaintiffs and witnesses, they bring a human dimension to their argument, buttressed by internationally renowned experts in the fields of history, psychology, sociology, and economics.  The result is the raw material for a riveting piece of theater has been called by one journalist, “a theatrical classroom.”

 Prop 8 On Trial is also a story about 21st century media.  Two days into the January trial, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling blocking the broadcast of a video feed of the trial.  In response, news and activists organizations began live-blogging the proceedings.  Those blogs, as well as actual trial transcripts, twitter-feeds and newspaper reports are the framework of the performance.

Using more than 12 actors portraying more than 40 attorneys, plaintiffs, and expert witnesses, the performance telescopes the trial’s key arguments into a performance that includes key video evidence submitted by the plaintiffs, and professional and amateur media coverage of the trial.  It also includes The Bloggers (a composite of the many journalists and activists who live-blogged and “tweeted” the proceedings) as a sort of Greek chorus that comment on and contextualize the action.

Prop 8 on Trial Performance History

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