Angels in America, Part I: Millenium Approaches

Questions to Consider

  1. Why is Angels in America considered one of the most important American plays?
  2. Is this play appropriate for all readers and all audiences?
  3. Should today’s readers and audience members be aware of the “factual” information in a play that is not historically or scientifically accurate?

Denver Post 2010 Poll of “Most Important American Plays Ever Written

The 10 Most Controversial Plays

“History is about to crack open.” —Ethel Rosenberg in Angels in America

sex-religion-politicsBy 1992, more than 1 million Americans were infected with HIV, and AIDS had killed close to 150,000 people…. There was no cure or effective treatment in sight.

It was about the Jewish experience, the gay experience, McCarthyism, the Mormon experience. It was exploring a whole world of politics, feelings, religion. And it was about the AIDS experience, which was enormous and enormously scary — like a biblical plague.   SOURCE

For comparison, the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam Conflict: 58,220.   SOURCE

Press Reel from the Original Broadway Production (1993)

(1:08) “Hold”
(1:52) “Come Back, Little Sheba”
(4:24) “Gay Republican”
(6:35) “Mutual Dream”
(9:45) “I Burned Dinner”
(11:55) “The Doctor’s Office”

Frank Rich’s Review in the New York Times
Angels in America; Millennium Approaches; Embracing All Possibilities in Art and Life

Upcoming Production at the National Theatre (London)

Arrival of the Angel


Magical Realism

Magical realism first appeared in the works of Latin American novelists like Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges. Novelists of this style allow fantasy to coexist with realism, so that boundaries are erased and neither reality nor fantasy is subordinate to the other. In theatre, magical realist plays have largely been associated with writers from marginalized groups. The re-envisioning of a “reality” dominated by rationalism is a powerful artistic strategy to challenge the status quo and traditional, Western classifications.   SOURCE

Sam Shepard & Fool for Love

MBDFOFO EC018Through searing truth and dark humor, Fool for Love shows the story of two people who just can’t live without each other whether they like it or not. May is hiding out at an old motel in the Mojave Desert. Eddie, an old flame and childhood friend, finds her there and threatens to drag her back into the life from which she had fled. Reality and dream; truth and lies; past and present mingle in an explosive, emotional experience. SOURCE

Note: I originally had planned to focus on Jose Rivera’s play “Marisol” during our second hour; however, I changed because my resources for Shepard were stronger.

Fool for Love Script: 318261269-Fool-for-Love-Shepard (1)

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Sam Shepard’s Buried Child

Pulitzer Prize in Drama


Magical Realism in Other Countries & Languages

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For our next class, we will shift to comedy! Please read several short scenes from David Ives’ All in the Timing.

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