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Pandora Stages Reading of Marriage Equality Play '8'

Louisville’s Pandora Productions will produce a staged reading of Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black’s marriage equality docu-drama “8” this week. Black wrote “8” using trial transcripts, interviews with participants and first-hand observations of the 2010 Federal District Court trial that overturned California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that stripped California residents of their right to same-sex marriage. The playwright won an Oscar in 2009 for his screenplay “Milk,” about the life and assassination of San Francisco activist politician Harvey Milk.“8” runs Thursday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at the Henry Clay Theatre.  Producing artistic director Michael Drury says that the play is a natural fit for Pandora Productions, whose mission is to produce cutting-edge plays about LGBT life. "A lot of the plays I'm looking at for next season have to do with marriage equality," says Drury. "It's a big issue in our community now." While same-sex marriages and civil unions aren't recognized in Kentucky (a 2004 referendum led to a state constitution amendment), Maine, Maryland and Washington state joined New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia this year as states where gay marriage is legal. The Supreme Court announced earlier this month that it will hear two cases challenging bans and limitations on same-sex marriages. The company will moderate a conversation with the audience about the play and marriage equality after each performance. Drury says that theater can provide a non-threatening venue for exchanging ideas. “I would love to have a spirited debate," says Drury. "But at minimum I think it will educate our core, loyal constituency. Not everybody in the gay community is an activist at the most, or even remotely politically knowledgeable. They may not even in our own core have a base knowledge of what’s going on toward marriage equality.”But Drury says he hopes the play will attract an audience beyond his core constituency, too.“Ideally, a broader community would come in and see this, too, who may see that it’s about marriage equality and think gosh I don’t know how I feel about that issue but I’d like to know more, maybe this play will be enlightening,” says Drury.