IMAGE: Aidan Koch
The queer revolution will not be televised.
Due to successful appeals by supporters of Proposition 8, the California initiative prohibiting same-sex marriage, testimony from the ongoing federal trial will not be seen by the public.
America won’t be entirely shut out of this landmark case, though—theTestimony: Equality on Trial project makes actual scripts from the Perry v. Schwarzenegger courtroom proceedings available online for impromptu public performances. Both professional and amateur actors are encouraged to upload and share their own script readings, shining a light on what the courtroom cameras can’t show.
How powerful is this illicit gay footage? Now you can see for yourself at the Brody Theater’s Testimony: Equality on Trial, a live performance of the more telling scripts from the Perry v. Schwarzenegger proceedings. The show will debut a mere two days after the intended final arguments in the case are heard, right in the middle of Portland’s own Pride celebration.
Brad Fortier, education director at the Brody and organizer of the event, heard about the online project and wanted to expose the machinery behind Prop. 8’s success to a public forum.
“I don’t like the idea of some constituency having the power to silence voices,” says Fortier.
Fortier selected scripts that best represent the issue from the 10 to 12 available online, then invited five local performers to join him in portraying witness testimony from both sides of the issue. Humor and improvisation will also be a big part of the production, but mockery is discouraged.
“We want the comedy to be profound. Things can be funny but also very meaningful, and we’d rather put a spotlight on the issue with humor,” says Fortier.
So what is going on inside the courtrooms? Judging by the online testimony of Ryan Kendall, one of the key witnesses in the trial, the whole nature of homosexuality seems to be on trial. In a deeply moving statement, Kendall describes his years suffering abuse from “conversion therapy” under psychologist and anti-gay activist George A. Rekers.
This is the same Dr. Rekers recently under investigation for his alleged involvement with male prostitutes hired to “carry his luggage.” The Brody’s improvisation on that little scenario ought to be worth the price of admission alone.
Fortier is willing to bet more than 80 percent of the Testimony audience will already be favorable to the pro-equality message of the production, but as a gay man, he still hopes to touch even one person in the audience who’s on the fence.
“A lot of people have no concept of how easy it is to cause suffering to people when you see them as objects and not people,” he explains. “This show does a good job of filling in the picture of what’s really at stake for people with queer identities.”
Without the aid of secret cameras, there’s no telling what Judge Vaughn Walker will decide after hearing closing arguments in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case June 16. But the secret is out at the Brody Theater.
GO: Testimony: Equality on Trial takes place at the Brody Theater, 16 NW Broadway, 224–2227. 10 pm Friday-Saturday, June 18-19. $12-$15. Info at brodytheater.com. The Portland Pride 2010 Festival takes place at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Southwest Naito Parkway between Harrison and Glisan streets. Events all day Saturday-Sunday, June 19-20. Full schedule of events, parade routes and more at pridenw.org.
Five More Portland Pride Events Not To Miss
1. Queers and gears come together to raise money for SMYRC with the Gayest Day of the Year Ride. Bring a donation, bedazzle your bike and leave a seven-mile trail of glitter around town with some of your gayest friends. SMYRC, 3024 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 872-9664. Noon-3 pm Saturday, June 19. $20 donation.
2. The ladies and queers of the Sister Spit Eurotrash Benefit Show will be performing spoken word. Local artist Nicole Georges will read from her upcoming graphic novel, Calling Dr. Laura, and give advice to audience members in a funny, helpful way that Dr. Laura can’t seem to pull off. Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3231. 9 pm Saturday, June 19. $5-$10.
3. Escape the corporatization of Pride at the Menz Room First Year Anniversary Freakout BBQ, a celebration of DIY crafts and stick-on mustaches. More live performers and DJs than you can shake a veggie dog at! Rotture, 315 SE 3rd Ave., 234-5683. 9 pm Friday, June 18. $3.
4. Blowpony Bash Back wants to create an indoor-outdoor safe space for queer brothers and sisters to take over the dance floor with DJs and live electro-punk performers. Asses will be danced off and epic party times will be had. Branx, 315 SE 3rd Ave. 9 pm Saturday, June 19. $5.
5. Make It Good: Films by Queers You Know and Love brings you cat whisperers, queer superheroes and short films created by local filmmakers. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 239-7639. 8 pm Friday, June 18. Free.