Equal marriage: thoughts on 8

My post last week got me pumped for Western Oregon University’s production of the play 8, and this week that enthusiasm remained

Image from dress rehearsal for 8
Image from dress rehearsal for 8

high inspired by a marked presence of advertising the play itself along with campaigning for equal rights from students. I saw students everywhere wearing white shirts, with the characteristic “NO H8” emblazoned somewhere on his or her person, and every time I did, I felt a small flare of pride burst in my chest. It always makes me glad that I chose to come to WOU when I see that I am a part of such a supportive and open group of individuals.

Considering all this, I bought a ticket and attended Thursday’s showing of 8 in the Smith Auditorium, along with a friend. While it was a rather sweltering experience (old buildings, hot weather, yuck) I felt that every bit of anticipation for the show was well-met.

The night started with a showing of the music video for Macklemore’s “Same Love,” something of an anthem for the equal marriage

Image from dress rehearsal
Image from dress rehearsal

rights movement. I wont lie, the video makes as hard an impact watching it again as it did the first time I watched it. After, director Ted deChatelet, who I interviewed last week, opened up the play by bidding the audience to “Sit back, listen to both sides, and make up your mind.”

The play itself was, in a word, educational. Performances gave information on a variety of arguments from both sides of the debate. They covered the reasons behind people opposing gay marriage going off of marriage definitions based in religion, biology, and sociology. Powerfully, clips from actual Proposition 8 campaign ads were played during the show. The play talked about the importance of labels and words, how the words “husband” and “wife” aren’t just the property of a heterosexual class of people, but the property of humanity as a whole.

This play raised a lot of questions for me. Watching it, I wondered about how important words are to people, how one person has as

Image from the dress rehearsal of 8
Image from the dress rehearsal of 8

much right to the meaning of a word as the next and about how very frequently one group of people is not allowed access to the comfort and convenience of a label that another group’s use may take for granted. I thought about how the foundations of our government work (one person, one vote, majority rules) and how that translates into reality. Majority rules. But is the majority a constant, unchanging number?

The actors and actresses were solid, each giving a steady performance, some with greater emotional impact than others. Some made you laugh, others might have brought a tear or two. And still others gave you pause. The words coming from their mouths made you stop, and they made you think. And I think that is the most important thing a work of art can do.

By Bonnie Wells

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