Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cimperman, Turner to perform in marriage equality play ‘8’

How's this for dramatic timing? Just as the U.S. Supreme Court gets ready to rule on gay-marriage cases, two Cleveland political leaders and several theater groups are seizing the moment.

Joe Cimperman and Nina Turner join a cast of actors next Sunday, June 30, to perform 8, a documentary play about the trial over California’s gay-marriage ban.

The one-night show will take place a few days after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on California's Proposition 8, which is expected next week or this Thursday.

The show is a staged reading, so the actors will read from scripts. But it’s a courtroom drama, so perhaps the actors will just come off like lawyers consulting their notes. The play is based on the transcripts from the 2010 trial, interviews and observations of the arguments. It’s written by Dustin Lance Black, an Oscar-winning screenwriter who wrote Milk and J. Edgar.

Cimperman, the longtime Cleveland city councilman, and Turner, the high-profile state senator and likely candidate for secretary of state, will be part of a 21-person cast that will also include local actors and leaders of various nonprofit organizations.

No word yet on who will play key roles, including the two couples fighting for the right to marry or super-lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, who battled in Bush vs. Gore but formed a conservative-liberal dream team to fight the law.

After the performance, City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop will moderate a debate between two gay-marriage advocates and Rev. Jimmie Hicks, who was voted off the Cleveland Heights City Council after opposing the city’s domestic partnership registry. You’ve got to give him credit for showing up. This’ll be a tough crowd for him.

8 plays at 5 pm on Sunday, June 30 at the Allen Theatre in PlayhouseSquare. Tickets, which benefit the Cleveland chapter of PFLAG and the pro-gay-marriage American Foundation for Equal Rights, are $25. 

Update, 6/30: Peter Lawson Jones, the actor and former Cuyahoga County commissioner, played Olson. Turner wasn't in the cast after all, though she appeared in a recorded video shown before the play. 

Cimperman played an expert witness in the case. So did state Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Ohio's first openly gay state legislator.  Her character's dialogue with an attorney sparked laughter in the audience. The attorney asked her if gays and lesbians are under-represented in elected office. "Yes," she replied.

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