Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*New York City

*New York City. This play uses many real locations in and around New York City, such as the East Village, the Lower East Side, the South Bronx, and Brooklyn Heights. However, the most important of these exterior settings is Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, a large fountain with a statue called the Bethesda Angel. It is a place around which New Yorkers like to relax, talk, and play music. This final setting of the play suggests that spiritual forces have aligned themselves to produce a new lease on life for him.

The other important New York venue is one that is interior, namely the hospital or sickrooms of two men suffering from AIDS. One room is that of Prior Walter, the other is Roy Cohn’s. Both rooms are often transformed, however, into spaces for hallucinations and visions, especially the appearance of an august, opalescent, winged angel who crashes into Prior’s room to declare him a prophet and charge him with a great mission.

Other worlds

Other worlds. These include an imaginary Antarctica, supernatural levels of reality, and various versions of the Afterworld, ranging from a bleak hell to a gathering place for worried angels heavily invested in the outcome of life on earth.

*Salt Lake City

*Salt Lake City. Capital of Utah and headquarters of the Mormon church, this venue and the characters in the play who come from there suggest a mainstream midwestern conservative perspective.

Historical Context

(Drama for Students)

History, both the near and distant past, echoes throughout Angels in America. Prior's ancestors from the thirteenth and seventeenth...

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Literary Style

(Drama for Students)

Epic Theatre
Angels in America is built with an epic plot construction. In early storytelling, epic referred to the kind of...

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Compare and Contrast

(Drama for Students)

1980s: In 1981, the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, identifies a new syndrome initially called "Gay-Related Immune...

(The entire section is 383 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

Kushner has cited the German playwright Bertolt Brecht as a major influence on his writing. Read one of Brecht's major plays, perhaps...

(The entire section is 353 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Drama for Students)

While several attempts at adapting Angels in America to film have occurred since the play's initial acclaim, the project remains in...

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What Do I Read Next?

(Drama for Students)

More of Kushner's provocative writing can be found in Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness: Essays, A Play,...

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Bibliography and Further Reading

(Drama for Students)

Barnes, Clive. Review of Angels in America in the New York Post, November 24, 1993.


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(Great Characters in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Brustein, Robert. “On Theater: Angels in America.” The New Republic, May 24, 1993, 29. One of America’s finest theater critics provides an excellent overview of the play.

Clum, John. Acting Gay: Male Homosexuality in Modern Drama. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Felman, Jyl Lynn. “Lost Jewish (Male) Souls: A Midrash on Angels in America.” Tikkun 10, no. 3 (May, 1995): 27-30.

Kushner, Tony. “Playwright of Pain and Hope.” Interview by Bob Blanchard. Progressive 58, no. 10 (October,...

(The entire section is 179 words.)