‘Angels in America’ a play that has become a success story in the mainstream drama in America acts. The play’s setting is both political and religious in nature as it was down played in the backdrop of politics in 1980s that was characterized by religious believes that defined the American culture. Gay – a disparate group were made to lead the plays (Kushner, 1992). This group of people is however a serious threat of contracting Aids forcing them to straight- face the specter through teaching themselves on better ways to support themselves. The play is divided into two part with ‘Millennium Approaches’ being the first part mainly devoted introductory part of the plot and partly give the main features and situations that are personal to each character. The other part is ‘perestroika’ the most critical part of the play presenting the major themes of the play (Kushner, 1992).
There several aspects of that Kushner used in his productions that puzzles may admires of his work. As the play subtitle ‘A Gay Fantasia on National Themes’ suggests Kushner uses fantasia a musical work used in theatre. The composer of the play allows his or her imaginations free play with one idea flowing from another. These ideas are musical in nature and put less consideration to the set forms. In the play Kushner allows the scenes to overlap and sometimes even in a manner that is contrapuntal (Borreca, 1998).
According to (Borreca, 1998) the characters move in and out of dialogues that are being played simultaneously rapidly changing the settings from houses to offices, from an imagined Antarctica to a hospital, Brooklyn or Central park. This aspect adds to the love for this play as its qualities are enigmatic and so fascinating in nature. As Kushner puts it the fantastical element serves a Brechtian purpose of self-awareness breaking up the realist action in order to defamiliarize it (Brask, 1995). The aspect is however too simplistic for an issue so important and central to the play like political and historical realism. Kushner managed to blend both political realism and the American history with ‘gay fantasia’ involving the angels, hallucinations and dreams. This aspect can be evident in ‘Millennium Approaches’ three and two when prior gets examined by the nurse-Emily but before that is done a flaming tome rises from the floor. In this way Kushner employs the art of stage craft and storytelling that goes beyond the naturalistic and realistic conventions of a play that is well-made that desire greatly influenced the fantastical writing (Borreca, 1998).
There is also use of many allusions to the Tennessee Williams and ‘the wizard of oz’. Kushner uses several OZ quotations featuring both angels and the OZ features showing how the realm of fantasy is excursed (Fisher, 2002). Certain characters are also connected through double- casting as it can be evident in the way Williams is reference severally making the allusions metatheatrically conceits connecting the play to the America traditions of theatre and myths that have long been practiced (Brask, 1995).
In conclusion, it can be seen that Kushner’s us of fantasy has become something more transcending Brecht’s Epic Theatre. So much attention has been put into analyzing the issues of spirituality and religion alongside ‘spectral’ quality of the play. It can be said then that these fantasies only serve to defamiliarize the events that are realist in nature. Kushner however wants to charm his audience through pure theatrical spectacle of an angel descending upon the stage making it attractive (Fisher, 2002).
Borreca, D. “Dramaturging the Dialectic: Brecht, Benjamin and Donnellan’s production of Angels in America” New York: Geis & Kruger, 1998.
Brask, P. Essays on Kushner’s Angels, Winnipeg: Blizzard. 1995.
Fisher, J. Living Past Hope: The Theatre of Tony Kushner, New York: Routledge, 2002.
Kushner, T. Angels in America Part one: Millenium Approaches, London: Nick Hern, 1992.