Tony Kushner looks back on 20 years of Angels in America

Posted Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 11:02am

Sound bites taken from From an interview with Neal Conan, NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” September 12, 2011

“During ... the Reagan years, there was a sort of sea change taking place in American politics — and then, as it turned out, in European politics as well, and ultimately in global politics, that we were entering a new period where old reliables were going to be overthrown, and a new way of looking at the world was at hand. And it wasn’t necessarily an appealing way of looking at the world, at least for me... There was a sense that something was coming and it might be something great, and might be something terrible ...

“I feel, going back now, that the early ‘90s, the late ‘80s, for all the horrors of the AIDS epidemic, were comparatively innocent and carefree times compared to where we are now. In the mid-’80s when I wrote the play, it included things about ‘eco-cide,’ about the collapse of the ozone layer. I really didn’t believe in my heart of hearts that the human race was now threatening the survival of life on the planet. There’s now absolutely no doubt that that’s the case... It’s completely clear that what we were beginning to get worried about in the ‘80s was very serious and very real things ... so the play, and the times, both feel darker to me now than they did back then.”

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Angels in America: Then and Now

Posted Friday, May 11, 2012 - 11:40am

Angels in America was an unlikely candidate to become a hit play in the early 1990s: a 7-hour epic focusing mostly on the lives of five gay men (two of them closeted Republicans) and the Valium-addled Mormon woman married to one of the closeted men; “a Gay Fantasia on National Themes” including democracy, socialism, the immigrant nature of American identity, Jewish mysticism, and what Leo Tolstoy called “the American religion,” Mormonism. The critic David Savran described it shortly after its Broadway success:

 “Bringing together Jews and Mormons, African- and European-Americans, neoconservatives and leftists, closeted gay men and exemplars of America’s new ‘queer politics,’ Angels attempts nothing less than the creation of a cosmic-scale history of America in the age of Reagan and the age of AIDS.… Exploring the sometimes tortuous connections between personal identity (sexual, racial, religious or gender) and political position, it dramatizes the seeming impossibility of maintaining one’s private good in a world scourged by public greed, disease and hatred.”

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Sam Shepard on...himself

Posted Friday, March 9, 2012 - 11:24am

Our Production Dramaturg William Steinberger has pulled some key quotes from Sam Shepard. We will share Mr. Shepard's thoughts about his past, his family, and himself.

Sam Shepard on himself:

“I’ve heard writers talk about ‘discovering a voice,’ but for me that wasn’t a problem. There were so many voices that I didn’t know where to start. It was splendid, really; I felt kind of like a weird stenographer. I don’t mean to make it sound like hallucination, but there were definitely things there, and I was just putting them down. I was fascinated by how they structured themselves, and it seemed like the natural place to do it was on a stage. A lot of the time when writers talk about their voice they’re talking about a narrative voice. For some reason my attempts at narrative turned out really weird. I didn’t have that kind of voice, but I had a lot of other ones, so I thought, Well, I’ll follow those. – The Paris Review, 1997

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Meet our Lambs!

Posted Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 5:46pm

Our lambs for Curse of the Starving Class arrived safely last Saturday! We thought it would be nice to give everyone some background on our new friends.

The lambs used in this production are purebred Southdowns which are known for their gentle disposition. They were removed from their mothers because the mothers delivered more babies than she could raise. They are healthy, bottle fed lambs and every effort is being made to ensure their continued health. They are owned by the Manatawna/Saul 4-H Club which is located here in Philadelphia. Members of the club are carefully monitoring the care of the animals while they are with the theater.

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Sam Shepard on...his family

Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 1:25pm

Our Production Dramaturg William Steinberger has pulled some key quotes from Sam Shepard. We will share Mr. Shepard's thoughts about his past, his family, and himself.

Sam Shepard on his family:

“Those Midwestern women from the forties suffered an incredible psychological assault, mainly by men who were disappointed in a way that they didn’t understand. While growing up I saw that assault over and over again, and not only in my own family. These were men who came back from the war, had to settle down, raise a family and send the kids to school—and they just couldn’t handle it. There was something outrageous about it. I still don’t know what it was—maybe living through those adventures in the war and then having to come back to suburbia. Anyway, the women took it on the nose, and it wasn’t like they said, ‘Hey Jack, you know, down the road, I’m leaving.’ They sat there and took it. I think there was a kind of heroism in those women. They were tough and selfless in a way. What they sacrificed at the hands of those maniacs . . .”  – The Paris Review, Spring 1997

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