Library to Host Staged Reading of “8”

On Sept. 29 at the Bozeman Public Library, Bozemanites will have a chance to see a reading of the play “8.” Academy Award winning writer Dustin Lance Black, who also wrote the screenplays for “Milk” and “J. Edgar,” is the tour de force behind this creation.

The play focuses on the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a Federal District Court trial that occurred immediately after Proposition 8 was enacted in California. American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) filed the case to overturn Prop 8, as it is commonly known, after the constitutional amendment was passed in California. The amendment defined “marriage” as a union between a woman and a man, fueling controversy and gaining national attention.

Denise Malloy, an academic adviser and University Studies instructor at MSU participating in Bozeman’s rendition of the play, noted that “Mr. Black personally sat in the courtroom, interviewed parties and witnesses and reviewed thousands of pages of trial transcripts to write the play.”

So how did our community come to host such a reading? Paula Beswick, the Foundation Director at the Bozeman Public Library, said that much of the effort came from Gregory Hinton, the creator and producer of “Out West,” a national public program series which focuses on drawing attention to the culture and history of the LGBT community in the West.

“He contacted me last fall to see if I would be interested in partnering with him on “8” when he was applying for the rights to it,” Beswick said.

Bozeman’s response to the play has been incredibly positive. “I come away from this completely in awe of Bozeman,” Beswick noted with pride. It helps that it will be held in the public library, where, as Beswick said, it is possible to hold discussions and open forums in a “safe environment” where “we hope to put a spotlight on the issue of human equality and shed light on the debate of gay marriage.”

Malloy pointed out that “Bozeman is quite possibly the smallest market in the country to be granted rights to this play, and the only one in the state of Montana,” highlighting how rare it is to see productions like this in our region.

The content of “8” is significant even in Montana. While Prop 8 was a constitutional amendment solely for the state of California, the play creates an opportunity for community dialogue about important issues.

The reading is free to the public, but tickets must be reserved beforehand by calling (406) 582-2425. There will be a reception at the Library starting at 6:30 p.m., the reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Library’s mezzanine and afterwards an informal discussion will take place.