Nathaniel Claridad, a UNC graduate student, proposed the idea in the fall for a campus production of “8” after he read that Black was offering the play’s rights to colleges and community.
Black, who won an Academy Award for the 2008 film “Milk,” wrote the play for public service as well as entertainment, said Tim Scales, one of the reading’s producers.
The play is about the closed trial that overturned California’s Prop 8 in 2010, based on transcripts and Black’s firsthand interviews.
Readings of the play have been performed on Broadway and across the country with such names as George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
Though the play is set in California, Director Jeremy Skidmore said it will be relevant to North Carolina audiences.
“It’s more of a launching pad to begin a deeper conversation more specific to North Carolina and Amendment One,” he said.
But the pieces of legislation are very different, said Jen Jones, spokeswoman for Equality NC and Protect All NC Families.
“In California there was marriage equality, and it was taken away,” Jones said.
“But here in North Carolina, there are two state statutes currently in place that ban gay marriage. So the amendment in North Carolina is actually much worse.”
Jones said one crucial difference between the battle over Prop 8 and Amendment One is the year. The conversation about gay marriage is much more open than it was only four years ago, she said.
“We ask people in other states what they would’ve done differently,” she said. “They say, ‘Well, we would’ve fought this in 2012.’”
Scales said PlayMakers and the dramatic art department are not advocating a position for or against Amendment One.
“Presenting a work like this gives an audience all the information they need to really think about and talk about the issue, and take away what they like,” Scales said.
Kleinschmidt, who is gay, said that though he has a personal stake in the May vote, he wants people to make an informed decision regardless.
He said his experience with “8” has shown him the similarities of politics and theater.
“I got into politics because I cared about local issues and wanted to have an impact, but part of the job is being in front of the people,” he said.
“There are similarities between being in front for issues, and putting yourself on stage.”
Contact the Arts Editor