For Class November 2nd

Please read Tony Kushner’s Angels in America which is in two parts. This is available through the Brooklyn Colleges Proquest Ebook Central. Read both.

You may also be interested/prefer to watch a production. (not a requirement)

I highly recommend the National Theatre’s most recent one starring Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane (among others.) It is unfortunately not available through the Brooklyn College library. It is available for a fee to rent as part of the National Theatre at Home initiative. Note that if you do this, it may be cheaper to do a one-month subscription rather than rent the two plays individually.

The play was also filmed as a mini-series for HBO with Meryl Streep.

A bit of context for the play. If you are unfamiliar with the extent of the AIDS crisis please check out:

I also ask that you read these two performance reviews of the play:

The first is from the first staging of the production in London. The second is a revival by the experimental director Ivo Van Hove.

Borreca, Art. Theatre Journal 45, no. 2 (1993): 235–38. https://doi.org/10.2307/3208926.

Anderson, Virginia. Review of Angels in America, by Tony Kushner. Theatre Journal 67, no. 4 (2015): 719-722. doi:10.1353/tj.2015.0122.


What questions do you have about the play? Were there parts that were confusing? What do you think that the play is trying to say?

4 thoughts on “For Class November 2nd

  1. Keeping track of all the characters was very confusing. I had to make myself a chart to refer to to remember everyone’s names and relations. I think the main message of the play is perseverance; to keep moving forward no matter how bleak things may be. I think this play also touches on humility, with Roy being an example of what happens if you do not embrace it.

  2. Kushner’s Angel’s In America creates a myriad of provocative imagery for the audience to focus and reflect on, making it hard to find the root of the main message and themes of the play. I agree with Mason’s finding in their review, on how the play has been categorized as “historical” due to its use of historical figures such as Roy Cohn and his life being dramatized along with the AIDS epidemic being the backdrop for the action within the whole play. With Kushner’s addition of such a notorious figure in this time of history allows the experimental structure of the play to delve deeper into the already complex social structures that are presented and explored throughout both Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Kushner’s play becomes confusing only because it is presenting so much to the audience. In the first part, it seems a straightforward exploration of the AIDS epidemic and how it affected the LGBTQ community while also exploring how that may affect romanic relationships dealing with serious disease, such as embodied though Porter and Louis; Belize being an alternate perspective of the aids crisis, in both dealing with it from a medical and social stand point. However, Kushner goes further and incorporates a religious aspect with Joe and Harper in their not so happy mormon marriage. Joe deals with questioning his sexuality in a heteronormative society and is left dealing with the consequences that ensue, especially in proceedings with his career and the law as embodied by his strange relationship with not only his wife but with Roy Cohn. The play’s altering narratives and intermingling of characters as Kushner explores these themes, it only becomes confusing to me when the angel’s character becomes introduced. The play’s focus on community and the question of how far does it reach is easily understood through the interpersonal and individual bonds created by each characters interactions. However, the Angels’ embodiment of judgement and purity began to become cloudy during Perestroika when the setting of heaven became San Fransisco and the characters seemed to be undefined by rules of reality; How they’re able to communicate and recognize each other through dreams which bleed into reality. The Angel’s obsession with purity and stagnation also seemed to be counterproductive to the “prophesying” that is pushed onto Prior, which is for him to continue to live and face his disease.

  3. Angels in America, has become one of my new favorite plays. although the story is told from the white prespective. I would like to see this story be told from several ethnicities. They’re stories can be told, and so people can Identify themselves in those stories being told. They tell a beautiful story, nonetheless its not everyone’s story. I know the epademic of HIV has affected millions. all stories deserved to be told in their own objective view.

  4. Within the Play of Angels of America I have seen so many wonderful scenes as we see many various scenes that have many messages and viewpoints that wants to be stated towards the audience. What caught me off guard was the amount of acts there were and how many new members they added within the play. There has been many messages being perceived within this play one being that no matter what life throws as you or how others perceive you to always move forward and live life the best way you can be embracing who you are and never letting anyone else tell you otherwise. This play shows us that no matter it may be such as HIV that we should embrace our differences.

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