Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Great Work

Angels in America (1991)
by Tony Kushner

This is my favorite place in New York City.  No, in the whole universe.  The parts of it I have seen ...

This angel.  She's my favorite angel.  I like them best when they're statuary.  They commemorate death but they suggest a world without dying.  They are made of the heaviest things on earth, stone and iron, and weigh tons but they're winged, they are engines and instruments of flight.

I'm almost done.

The fountain's not flowing now, they turn it off in the winter, ice in the pipes.  But in the summer it's a sight to see.  I want to be around to see it.  I plan to be.  I hope to be.

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 anymore.  The world only spins forward.  We will be citizens.  The time has come.

Bye now.

You are fabulous creatures, each and every one.

And I bless you: More Life.

The Great Work begins.

There's nothing quite like the masterwork that is Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.  Told in two parts, Millenium Approaches and Perestroika, this seven-hour epic has an astounding poetic sweep and vision that is frankly nothing short of staggering. 

It's hard to summarize the plot of this piece ... it is a grand, fantastical journey that spans the years 1985 to 1990 and travels through a multitude of locations including Antartica and Heaven itself as it follows three very different gay men with AIDS.  Though breathtakingly theatrical, it was translated to the screen in 2003 for HBO and it is a surprisingly faithful and successful adaptation.

What I wouldn't give to direct a theatre piece like this with the appropriate facility, budget, cast, and creative team.  And what I wouldn't give to be able to write like this, as well ...

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