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Gay rights fight on stage

Alissa Widman Neese • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:43 PM

The national issue of gay marriage is hitting the local stage this weekend.

The BGSU Firelands College Threatre will perform “8,” a fairly new play addressing the U.S. gay rights movement and the fight for marriage equality.

The play is a staged reading of a federal trial that overturned Proposition 8, a 2008 amendment eliminating the rights of same-sex couples to marry in California. 

Want to go?

• WHAT: “8” the play, followed by panel discussion about gay marriage 

• WHEN AND WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Friday, McBride Auditorium at BGSU Firelands; 2 p.m. Saturday, Art & Health Technologies Center Recital Hall at Terra State Community College

• COST: Free at the door, but a $10 donation is encouraged

• INFO: Contact director Grechen Wingerter atgrechlw@bgsu.edu or visit 8theplay.com     

Dustin Lance Black created the play to give the public a true account of what transpired in the courtroom, in response to the court refusing to release a video recording of the trial. It first debuted in 2011 and uses text from real-life transcripts, records and interviews.

A cast of about 20 people will present the play Friday evening at BGSU Firelands and Saturday afternoon at Terra State Community College. The group includes BGSU Firelands students, faculty and local actors of all ages.

Grechen Wingerter, the play’s director and a BGSU Firelands instructor, decided to pursue the play to educate local people about what she considers an important issue, she said.

“The idea of equality has always been important to me, and this play is a way for me to help make people aware of what’s happening in our world,” Wingerter said. “I don’t think everyone always sees the real people behind these issues”

Admission this weekend is free, but a $10 donation is encouraged, to benefit Broadway Impact. The organization, as well as the American Foundation for Equal Rights, sponsor the play and allow colleges to use its script free of charge, intending for it to be used as an educational tool.

A panel discussion about gay marriage will follow the performance, and individuals with any viewpoints on the matter are encouraged to participate.

“We’re hoping to spark a conversation about what this means in our community,” Wingerter said. “My personal beliefs may be clear, but I’m not trying to convert anyone to my views. I just want people to listen”

Actor Richard Amezquita, of Monroeville, a nontraditional student at BGSU Firelands, said he became involved with the production because he knew it would get people talking.

Amezquita plays David Blankenhorn, an advocate against same-sex marriage in the U.S. in 2008.

“It’s an honor to be a part of something that’s putting a spotlight on issues a lot of people don’t want to talk about,” he said. “Someone needs to speak out, even if no one else is, and I have a feeling this is going to be a production that a lot of people can relate to”

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