Angels in America

by Tony Kushner

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Student Question

What issues from Angels in America require a director's attention?

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Part of what makes staging the play so difficult is its style.  Conventional theatre focuses on one specific conflict or drama and sees it to the end.  This is not where Kushner's work resides.  There are multiple stories being told and are woven together by shared thematic elements.  I think that the director of this play has to be able to understand each story with equal significance and place an even greater importance on the themes of the drama.  For example, the political reality of Reagan Conservativism has the same thematic thread as Prior's anger over what is happening to his body and his life.  Both the political expression and the personal one are rooted in the struggle to accept change and to properly understand its role.  National conservativism and the pain of AIDS find the same home in Kushner's theme.  This is where a director must be in assembling this play.  I think that another element to which a director has to be mindful is the portrayal of Roy Cohn.  This is tough because Cohn has historical depictions that have to be both appropriated and separated from in depicting him in the play, concurrent with the theme of change.  While each character has a different resignation towards the power of change, Roy still is defiant until the end and I think that this is something that also requires attention from a director of the play.

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