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ON STAGE: Student plays professor in Proposition 8 play

By Dave Jones on October 3, 2012 in University News

The U.S. Supreme Court started its new term this week with no word on whether the justices will take up California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state.

But the undergraduate company Studio 301 Productions already has the case on its calendar for Friday night (Oct. 5), in the form of the play known simply as 8. Presented as a staged reading (directed by Mitchell VanLandingham), the play tells how the fight for marriage equality got to this point.

The play centers on 2010’s Proposition 8 trial in federal district court in San Francisco. The reading includes testimony by UC Davis social psychology professor Gregory Herek, an internationally recognized authority on prejudice against lesbians and gay men.

Herek testified for the plaintiffs: two same-sex couples seeking to overturn the voter-approved initiative. The 2010 trial ended with Judge Vaughn Walker’s declaration that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional — thus setting up the appeal to the Supreme Court.

Dustin Lance Black based his play on the court transcript, firsthand observations in the courtroom, and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.

Skylar Collins, a dramatic art major who also studies sociology, plays Herek in Studio 301’s 8. Herek will participate in a post-performance discussion.

This is a one-night-only event: 8 o'clock Oct. 5 in Nelson Hall (formerly the University Club). To reserve a seat or seats, send an email to

Studio 301 is asking for suggested donations of $8 per seat, with proceeds to benefit the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organizational sponsor of the federal lawsuit for marriage equality.

More theater

Today I Live — UC Davis’ Institute for Exploration in Theatre, Dance and Performance presents this workshop production of a new play written by Susan-Jane Harrison, directed by Jessa Brie Berkner.

Said Harrison: “We come to this country from many places. Assimilation is a task of self-forgetting. What does it mean to live? Whenever and wherever we are? Our identity, like old maps, must be resurrected, the original footsteps of our begetting threaded back into the paths we walk today.”

The workshop event is set for 8 p.m. Friday (Oct. 5) in the Wyatt Pavilion Theatre. Open to the public; first come, first served for the theater’s limited seating. Donations will be accepted at the door.

The institute is part of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Macbeth: The Radio Play Shakespeare’s haunting tragedy, presented as "an engrossing sonic experience." Inspired by the format of 1930s radio plays, featuring unique live sound effects and an original score by Richard Chowenhill. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 24-27 and Oct. 31-Nov. 3, gazebo, arboretum.

This is the opening production in the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble's third season, exploring the theme of transformation through language and sound.

The season also includes Nightingale, exploring language and sound’s impact on movement; and As You Like It, one of Shakespeare’s most musical pieces, exploring the season's theme naturally.

Nightingale is scheduled to be performed April 5-14 at the Pamela Trokanski Dance Workshop and Performing Arts Center, and As You Like It is scheduled from June 13 to 30 in the gazebo.

Tickets are available now for Macbeth: The Radio Play alone or for the entire season.

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Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,