[Reading] ➸ Angels in America:A Gay Fantasia on National Themes By Tony Kushner – Uroturk.info

Angels in America:A Gay Fantasia on National Themes I absolutely love this play It explores the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, particularly its effect on the gay community But you don t have to be a gay man with AIDS living in 1985 to relate to it This play reaches out on a very basic human level It s about dealing with loss, love, sickness, regret, hope, politics, betrayal, sex, religion, death, confusion, hate it s about facing yourself and trying to deal with what you find there.Angels is hands down my favorite play It s written in 2 parts Millenium Approaches and Perestroika and is somewhere around 7 hours when performed back to back.Seriously, if I could set the curriculum for a literature class, Angels in America would be top priority I think it s an important play and that everyone should grab a copy of it and just read the hell out of it. I don t know if this play had its intended effects on me because I was born in the 90s, HIV AIDS has always been a reality permanently etched in the back of my mind Because my political views lean heavily to the left, I find the recent trend of Reagan worshipping revolting Because I live in the epicenter of Mormondom, I can poke holes in the Mormons are the new Jews motif that Kushner loves exploring so much The sudden shifts Kushner is trying to articulate and rationalize have been a part of my life since birth, so there s really no way I can get into the right mindset when reading his work But if literature was defined solely by its ability to achieve its desired outcome, it would be infinitely duller While the political nightmare described in Angels in America is still all too real, the human reality is what aches through the entire play Kushner writes of a world apathetic to its outsiders dying alone He writes of feeling alienated, defeated and abused in ways that will always be relevant Early on, Prior replies to Harper s fears of Joe s infidelity that I would say fuck the truth , but usually the truth fucks you , which carried my mind through the entire play This is a story of people trying to igonre the fact that their ideals are shattered, only to be ruined because of it This would have probably gotten a fifth star from me even with that awful ending if I hadn t read Kushner s Notes About Political Theater at the same time, an essay which made me aware of the play s shortcomings Kushner writes that his goal in being a playwright is to make people aware that w e are less able to see the political in life, as in art, much energy is devoted toward blurring the political meaning of events, or even that events have political meaning , which I have trouble finding in Angels Before reading the essay, I saw the play as a small step in the right direction it s muchdifficult to get the average person wanting to dismantle heterosexist standards if they can see the good in the people those standards knock down And Kushner s play makes itself remarkable for refusing to make people with HIV AIDS disgusting or dirty And yet he refuses to go any further than that The nuclear family is constantly affirmed Even though it exists in Belize and Louis, no form of intersectional queer identity is never explored to its full potential And Roy s death upholds a positivist attitude that bad people are the only ones swallowed up by illness and pain It s disappointing Had Kushner turned up the heat it would have been a muchworthwhile exploration. Genuinely a bit taken aback by how..not well Angels in America works as a text It s really a work that has to be seen, and endured Millennium Approaches still quite clearly the stronger of the plays, Perestroika still too meandering and arduous but nonetheless a good counterbalance.I d love to do a production of Angels where every heavy handed symbol is announced by a klaxon and a flashing blue beacon like that one from The Bill Then at the Oliviers I d stealthily but gracefully vomit my guts onto Jez Butterworth Jonathan Pryce would watch on in complete adulation. Kushner s overheated and vastly overrated opus sent me scurrying for my Yma Sumac CD, The Voice of the Xtaby When I want a guest to leave my apartment, I put it on with the admonition, You must hear her 5 octave pipes and, shortly, I am happily alone You too can hear Yma on YT She trills from high soprano to basso The music suggests tweeting birds or a volcanic eruption Kushner, I read, thought his play might be a musical, initially, and it would have needed Yma It still does Its success is a prime example of how a few mediocre dramer critics, infected w toxic fairy dust or nerve gas, can stampede the public into casting off sane reflection and start belching cheerless huzzahs Kushner s monumental achievement mixes gays and Jews and Mormons huhh in a series of blackout sketches, performed by usually two characters I dont think he can write for 3 actors onstage The AIDS crise turned him into a Writer, as it did others, so attention must be paid, as Arthur Miller rumbled Since Kushner hasnothing to say, he deals solely with emotions mostly agitation and anger A young man dying of AIDS is abandoned by his lover who becomes involved with a closeted gay Mormon who, in turn, has a shrill, pill addicted wife The monstrous lawyer Roy Cohn, also dying, gets a ghostly visit from the pathetic Ethel Rosenberg amid the hysteria, and juvenile raillery, an angel descends and where s Yma Sumac Like Brecht, Kushner does not write characters He writes symbols Evil, Affectation, Death, The Oppressed His jabber goes on endlessly Our suffering teaches us solidarity or it should, he allows Because Kushner has written a second rate playabout being gay, and about AIDS, no one is going to call it the overwrought, coarse, posturing, formulaic mess that it is, explains a writer in the New Republic Meantime, essayist Andrew Sullivan, who loathed the play, dismissed it as political agitprop, adding Gay life and gay death surely awaits something grander and subtler than this I saw an early preview c 1991, and the ranting and raging onstage put me to sleep, though I awoke when Roy Cohn Evil was dying in pain, which made members of the audience feel Good I tried to see the Mike Nichols movie, and again I got the snores, especially when Meryl Streep appeared as a rabbi or was that a bad dream It took me a few days to finish a play read, w long naps The frenzy and yelping agony of passion in Kushner s revue sent me to Yma Sumac, the Peruvian songbird Skip this theatrical salacacabia and give yourself up to Yma. This review is of the two plays by Tony Kushner housed under the title ANGELS IN AMERICA A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES Millennium Approaches and Perestrokia which can be produced and mounted individually, or together for one rather long seven hour afternoon and evening in the theater Although the two plays were workshopped in 1990 and played jointly on Broadway and the West End in 1992 and 1993 they are really about the Eighties Set in 1985 and 1986, with an Epilog in 1990, they re about a people who were credulous enough to believe that the old ways would hold if they just stayed the course The first play Millennium Approaches has largely to do with a gay man who falls in love with a closeted, conservative Republican Mormon who abandons his wife This causes no small amount of confusion in gay, analytical Louis through most of both playsIt s just that, you know, belonging to a political party that s one half religious zealot control freak theocrats and one half ego anarchist libertarian cowboys shrilling for freedomyou ve had a lot of practice straddling cognitive dissonance Or, or what from Perestroika, Act 3 p 195 On the whole, ANGELS is a freewheeling and often surreal theater piece that gives a role to the late Ethel Rosenberg, who had been executed on federal charges of espionage 32 years earlier A major role belongs to the imperious, grey winged Angel played gloriously in the HBO adaptation by Emma Thompson whom the lead gay character with AIDS, Prior, must straddle to get her attentionThe body is the garden of the soulA major character in both plays play is the real life Roy Cohn, a professional political opportunist who furthered the climate of Witch Hunting, persecuting not only political dissidents but inducing a Lavender Scare among gay men, during the Joseph McCarthy years of the 1950 s He, too, is homosexual but will not allow the word anywhere near him, even as he prepares to die of AIDS liver cancer From the play Roy Cohn, diagnosed with AIDS, threatens his doctorNo, say it I mean it Say Roy Cohn, you are a homosexual And I will proceed, systematically, to destroy your reputation and your practice and your career in New York State, Henry Which you know I can do To someone who doesn t understand this, homosexual is what I am because I sleep with men, but this is wrong Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men Homosexuals are men who, in 15 years of trying, can t get a pissant anti discrimination bill through City Council They are men who know nobody, and who nobody knows Now, Henry, does that sound like me from Millennium Approaches, Scene 9 p 195 Reviewer s Note The real Roy Cohn once treated a reporter to a limousine ride interview while simultaneously cooling his anal warts contracted just as you think they were with an air conditioner vent Not for nothing did playwright Kushner call the Eighties the Fifties in drag Tony Kushner has given us two plays that are probably among the best and certainly among the most powerful of late Twentieth Century American theater If you like plays and how they are written, this volume belongs in your home Also well worth having is HBO s 2005 miniseries adaptation with top notch actors like Meryl Streep playing Ethel Rosenberg and Al Pacino as Roy Cohn, which I have reviewed at .from the playYou may be dumber than shit but I refuse to believe you can t figure it out Try . This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all, and the dead will be commemorated and will struggle on with the living, and we are not going away We won t die secret deaths any The world only spins forward We will be citizens The time has come Angels in America is my favorite and absolutely the most beautiful play I have ever read for many, many reasons First and foremost, it is a real look at a historical era and crisis so often erased in popular media The inclusion of real historical figures like Roy Cohn and Ethel Rosenberg only grounded this evenAt the same time, the play exists in the realm of magical realism, for lack of a better term It pushes the boundaries between real and fantasy but grounds it in religion, truth, and life Each character is incredibly complex and dynamic, so there are no antagonists in this story, apart from the nature of the Reagan era and AIDS itself The dialogue is clever and humorous while being incredibly raw and heartfelt It is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time The scenes are ingeniously and masterfully crafted and staged Overall, it is a masterpiece of both theatre and literature If I were to choose a play that EVERYONE should read, it would be this one. I begin this review with a quote Things fall apart the center cannot hold A colleague pointed out the resonances of Yeats poem The Second Coming in Kushner s Angels, and I had to agree with his fantastic observation This is a drama set in Reaganite America that images a world seemingly coming to an implosive and horrifying end God has literally abandoned us evidently, during the great San Francisco earthquake , and the national and historical crises alluded to the onset of the AIDS epidemic being the most present, but also the fall of the Soviet Union, the infection of Reagan era individualism, the legacy of the Cold War, the Rosenberg trial profoundly intersect with the personal crises that provide the play s sometimes overwhelming sense of trauma.Roy Prior are each wrecked by AIDS Harper is a pill popping agoraphobe there are closets galore there are pervasive narratives of abandonment emblematized in the one committed by God and of comings home of religious doubt the terror of change with its corollary, the terror of stasis There s also, as evidenced by figures like Harper, Joe, Louis, and Prior, the terror of being with and being isolated from other people Roy Cohn is both a historical figure and a kind of literary master narrative as my professor remarked, Roy reads almost as analogous to Milton s Satan He s the most despicable character, ostensibly the villain of the play, but ultimately also becomes an intensely compelling one to follow With all of this said, I simply have to remark that this is, first and foremost, an absolutely magnificent work of literature It s beautifully written, refreshingly literary without being as pretentious as I ve been in this review , often laugh out loud hilarious, and emotionally affecting in a way I haven t experienced with a fictional work in a long time Read it Seriously, READ IT For your betterment as a human being, give the play a shot It s just radiant. Reading these plays aloud in a high school class createdthan a few awkward moments. In Two Full Length Plays Millennium Approaches And Perestroika Kushner Tells The Story Of A Handful Of People Trying To Make Sense Of The World Prior Is A Man Living With AIDS Whose Lover Louis Has Left Him And Become Involved With Joe, An Ex Mormon And Political Conservative Whose Wife, Harper, Is Slowly Having A Nervous Breakdown These Stories Are Contrasted With That Of Roy Cohn A Fictional Re Creation Of The Infamous American Conservative Ideologue Who Died Of AIDS InAnd His Attempts To Remain In The Closet While Trying To Find Some Sort Of Personal Salvation In His Beliefs

About the Author: Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner is an award winning American playwright most famous for his play Angels in America, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize He is also co author, along with Eric Roth, of the screenplay of the 2005 film Munich, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned Kushner along with Roth an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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