Beth Marshal Presents brought Prop 8 to the Orlando Shakes. Prop 8 was passed in California stating that marriage can only be defined as the union of a man and woman with the goal being to procreate. Protesters lined the entry walkway towards the theater entrance. They shouted their protests of equal rights to love. There was a surreal irony to the demonstration since most Prop 8 demonstrators would be shouting their judgements and hatred.
This play, written by Lisa Cordes, used court documents in the case to overturn Prop 8. When I got to the theater, Beth showed me where I would be sitting, right next to other bloggers and tweeters on the sidelines. I didn't have a good line of sight to the judge, so I ended up sitting on my artist's stool a bit further away from the stage. Daily City blogger Mark Baratelli had been out in the lobby curious about what was going on. He had been at an event across the parking lot at the Orlando Museum of Art but he was drawn to the hubbub at the shakes. I was alone in the theater blocking in my sketch before the actors got on stage. I texted Mark suggesting he join me in the bloggers section. When the play started, I finally realized that the bloggers were actually actors. Silly me. Their fingers floated above the keyboards to make it look like they were typing without creating noise. As it turns out, I was the court artist.
Lisa Cordes herself played a witness and I caught her in my sketch. Her wit and irony made it clear that she believed in the cause of any one's right to marry. The lawyers who defended Prop 8 did a very poor job and defense witnesses were often weak minded bigots. The bloggers were able to summarize otherwise mind numbing testimony so it could be easily digested with humor and wit. The most compelling testimony came from witnesses who longed to be able to publicly celebrate their love yet were denied by law.
In the end, the play remained unresolved since legislation is still pending. The testimony and evidence certainly left us all with hope that love could outlast bigotry. Chad Lewis and Jason R. Donnelly were to be married in the theater after the performance. Members of their families took up much of the second row of the theater. We all were asked to wait in the lobby as the theater was converted into a chapel. Nicki Equality Drumb and Rachel Equality Gardiner stopped over to say hello. An actor came over and thanked Rachel for being such a good audience member. He explained that he had been exhausted near the end of the play, but her enthusiasm fueled a second wind. She was a bit embarrassed, but that is what makes theater in a small town like Orlando special. The actors truly appreciate the audience. Every year on Valentines day they host "The Human Heart." Hundreds of people gather in Lock Haven park holding hands and forming a large heart shape. Candles are lit in the name of love and equality. I also love this couple since they go to the courthouse regularly to ask for the right to be married. Hopefully someday soon the tide will turn and the court clerk will finally say "yes."