Summertime in Utah is always full of concerts and foodie events, but it's not every hot August night that offers an intriguing approach to art, or the opportunity to debate one of the defining civil-rights issues of our time with Oscar winners and members of Congress. But that's what we have this weekend.

ALEX ISRAEL: AS IT LAYS OPENING NIGHT PARTY, UMOCA, Friday, 7 p.m., free

Los Angeles-based artist Alex Israel uses his city for inspiration, canvas and talking point in his works that combine live performance, video, installation-art and found objects. The As It Lays show takes on a talk show format, with Israel as host to a collection of Hollywood movers and shakes, including Oliver Stone, Vidal Sassoon, Rosanna Arquette and Marilyn Manson. Israel will be on hand for an artist’s talk at 7 p.m., followed by UMOCA’s First Friday party with a DJ, food and a cash bar.

PLAN-B THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS 8, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., $25

Part of Plan-B Theatre Company’s Script-In-Hand Series, this year’s edition is particularly appealing thanks to both the playwright and the special guest coming for a post-play discussion. Dustin Lance Black, an Oscar winner for penning Milk, wrote 8 about Proposition 8, the California law designed to deny gay citizens the right to marry. Black’s story is taken right from the stories of the people who worked, and sued, to overturn the law. Each performance will be followed by a discussion on the next steps for the marriage equality movement and Black will be joined by Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, who just married his partner, becoming the first elected federal official married to a same-sex partner. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds will be donated to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and the rest will support Plan-B’s 2012/2013 season.

Dan Nailen has written about music, arts and culture in and around Salt Lake City for Salt Lake magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake City Weekly since 1998. He's currently a contributor tosaltlakemagazine.com, and you can find more of his work at SLCene.com