LA County High School Performs "8" Tonight!
Past and scheduled performances combined, "8" is currently up to 275 theatres nationwide! But TONIGHT, Friday September 14th, El Camino Real Charter High School will be the FIRST HIGH SCHOOL to perform a reading of "8" – AND I WILL BE THERE! I CAN'T WAIT! They've invited students and their parents to attend and expect to fill their auditorium to capacity with 400 students and 200 parents. As I am under water this week with three scripts and a marriage equality speech for HRC WASHINGTON this weekend, I asked my best and oldest friend Ryan Elizalde if he could contact the High School and find out a bit more about this momentous production.
Here's me and Ryan:
Here's his interview:
In her 13th year as the theater director, Sue Frietag is the instructor leading the charge at El Camino Real High School. She is also a proud Conquistador (the school's mascot), having once roamed the halls herself as a student.
Ryan: Was it your decision to do "8" or was this brought to you by a student?
Sue: Actually, the idea came from the Secondary Arts Expert at LAUSD, Steven McCarthy. He had suggested I apply for the reading rights last year when I was looking for plays to do for the season.
Ryan: Was the Prop 8 case discussed in a class before deciding to do "8"?
Sue: Not formally. We would discuss the civil rights issue, but not formally discuss Prop 8. We discussed it thoroughly once we began rehearsing for the reading.
Ryan: How did the students react when presented with the reading?
Sue: Extremely excited! They were on board from the beginning. It was such an amazing opportunity presented to us.
Ryan: Among the actors what's the feeling regarding this prop "8" case?
Sue: They are fired up, young, political activists! They are ready to fight the good fight! They are watching closely as to what the Supreme Court decides to do with the case. If they hear it and vote against same-sex marriage, it could have devastating, nation-wide repercussions.
Ryan: Is the reading for students only or will parents be invited as well?
Sue: 400 students. 200 parents. Students had to write on Prop 8, either for or against, to receive a wristband to attend the event (Rainbow wristbands with "8 the play" written on them). Over 250 students submitted a paper. All of them got wristbands. In addition, we handed out wristbands to some clubs like the GSA, Christian Club, Zeitgeist Club, etc.
The wristbands are very popular now. The letters they turned in were very emotional for me to read. One after the other telling personal stories of feeling fearful and ashamed of either being gay themselves or having friends or family members who have been discriminated against. It was very overwhelming. Students have come to me personally to thank me for doing this show here on our campus. They felt protected in some way.
Ryan: What do you expect the turnout to be?
Sue: Packed house. We had to move venues from our small theatre to our multi-purpose room.
Ryan: How was the show cast?
Sue: The show was just open to my advanced Play Production class. So, we had 42 students who auditioned for 20 parts. The rest of the class is working on the other tech aspects of the show.
Ryan: Are the actors nervous with Lance coming out to view the performance?
Sue: Extremely nervous and excited. We are all worried about delivering his play and his words with the intended impact Lance envisioned. But we are very excited that he will be there to support. The students are especially excited about meeting such an inspirational author, whom many admire and aspire to be like.
Ryan: Is the drama department charging for tickets or is this performance free?
Sue: It is a suggested donation of $20 to AFER. For the students, I just wanted them to be there – money should not be an obstacle.