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‘8’ Comes to Chandler, With Pride

The cast of "8," a Chandler Pride dramatic reading, in rehearsal at Chandler Center for the Arts, Saturday. (photography / Bob Eddy)

The cast of "8," a Chandler Pride dramatic reading, in rehearsal at Chandler Center for the Arts, Saturday. (photography / Bob Eddy)

Routine courtroom proceedings, where dry legalese is the primary language, usually don’t make for great drama. This is not the case with 8, a play that depicts the proceedings in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case that overturned California Proposition 8, which declared in 2008 that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Written by Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk, 8 blends testimony from the case with scenes of the two couples who challenged the proposition going about their daily lives. This is what makes 8 hit closer to home than other dramas set in the courtroom, said Richard Waterhouse, who will direct a staged reading of 8 at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph on Dec. 1.

Black “pulled the juiciest parts from the court case,” Waterhouse said. “He also breaks it up by interspersing family scenes,” including scenes of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple and two of the plaintiffs in the case, at home with their twin sons.

Because the defendants in Perry v. Schwarzenegger did not want the court proceedings televised, the public had limited means of knowing what transpired. Relying on transcripts, Black “did a really exceptional job of keep it interesting, moving and funny in some ways,” Waterhouse said. Without an intermission, the play runs about 84 minutes, “and it never gets boring,” Waterhouse said.

8 has come a long way since it premiered on Broadway in September of last year. In March, an all-star production was performed at the Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, featuring Brad Pitt in the role of Judge Vaughn Walker, as well as George Clooney and Martin Sheen, respectively playing David Boies and Theodore Olson, attorneys for the plaintiffs. Since its premiere, 8 has been performed for audiences across the country, in theaters, universities and places of worship, thanks to a free licensing agreement from the American Federation for Equal Rights, one of the play’s sponsors.

8 is the latest production by Chandler Pride, an organization that has brought theater pieces with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes to Randolph. In the summer of 2011, the first Summer Pride at Chandler festival was held, with staged readings of several plays, including the groundbreaking work The Boys in the Band, one of the first plays to deal frankly with gay themes. A year ago, Waterhouse’s partner Dan Butler directed a production of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s play about the early years of AIDS, at Chandler.

With its focus on the politics surrounding same-sex marriage, 8 fits seamlessly in Chandler Pride’s repertoire, Waterhouse said.

“We were really happy and proud to get it. As soon was we heard about it being released, we jumped on it,” Waterhouse said. The cast of 8 is comprised of actors from around the state, and a few from New Hampshire, including Hanover-based actors Suzanne Schon and Peter Saccio. Alan Gelfant of Norwich assumes the role of David Boies in this production of 8, joined by fellow Norwich resident Caitlin Glasgo, who plays a broadcast journalist covering the proceedings.

The proponents of Proposition 8 have appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will likely decide in the first week of December whether or not to hear the case — just in time for Chandler Pride’s performance of 8.

In Vermont, the first state to offer civil unions for same-sex couples, marriage is legal for all, though marriages performed in the state are not recognized by the federal government. But in Waterhouse’s view, 8 is not strictly a play about gay marriage, but rather addresses civil rights for all — and it shows the difference that a few ordinary citizens can make.

The plaintiffs “are like thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, (but) decided to put their foot down and step forward and say, No this is not OK. These are people we would never have heard of in our lives, except that they’ve done this and are doing this for the people who don’t have the power behind them to step forward,” Waterhouse said.

“I personally can feel, what difference can I make?” Waterhouse added. “I think the play inspires you to step forward and do what you can do.”

8 will be performed in a staged reading at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph at 7 p.m. Dec 1. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m., and a discussion and reception will follow ($20 adults; $10, students).

Children’s and Family Performances

The marionettes of the No Strings Marionette Company will bring the classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge to life in Scrooge, to be performed at 11 a.m. Saturday at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph. Chandler’s annual holiday bazaar will follow ($6).

Comedy

Comedians Paul D’Angelo, Chris D and Tracie Spencer will deliver an evening of comedy at Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction tomorrow night at 8 ($17).

Folk

Folk singer Joice Marie will perform folk favorites and a few of her own compositions at Stone Arch Bakery in Lebanon at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Rock

The hardworking Upper Valley band Mo’Combo will deliver an evening of danceable tunes at Tupelo Music Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday ($15).

Bar and Club Circuit

Jason Cann is taking a night off from his usual Thursday gig at Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, but you can catch him performing with his band Wherehouse at Harpoon at 7 p.m. Saturday.

n Catch Jim Yeager at Jesse’s Restaurant in Hanover at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

n Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon has a performance by The Wheelers at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

n Boston’s Patsy Whelan plays traditional Irish tunes at One Mile West in Sunapee tomorrow and Saturday at 9 p.m.

n Jim Hollis provides pop and rock favorites at The Common Man Restaurant in Claremont at 5 p.m. Sunday.

n These musicians perform at Canoe Club in Hanover: tomorrow, jazz guitarist Ed Eastridge; Saturday, the acoustic duo of Don & Jenn; Sunday, a jazz brunch with Billy Rosen and the Steve Ellis Jazz Duo; Tuesday, pianist Keith Bush; and Wednesday, David Greenfield.

Open Mics, Jams

One Mile West in Sunapee has a blues jam at 1 p.m. Sunday.

n Anthony Furnari of The Wheelers hosts an open mic at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon.

n The Colatina Exit in Bradford puts on an open mic on Tuesday from 8 to 11 p.m.

n The Dusty Bottle in Bradford has an open mic and karaoke on Wednesdays, starting at 8 p.m.

n Bear Hollow Vintage Guitars hosts an open jam every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the studio, located on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon.

n Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland offers an open mic every Wednesday night at 8:30.

n Bentley’s Restaurant in Woodstock hosts an open mic each Monday night at 9.

n Lil Red Baron in Newport has an open mic night on Wednesdays at 7:30.

Entertainment Highlights runs every Thursday. Email upcoming events to kbryan@vnews.com.