America has been gripped by two phenomena powered by a flutter of wings. As Tony Kushner‘s miraculously successful play Ange/s In America comes to Scotland. Andrew Burnet opens the X—File on angels.
merica in the mid-eighties. Ronald Reagan enthuses over the Strategic Defence Initiative like a kid at a toyshop window. (,‘ommunist liastern liurope is an ‘evil empire'. Doctors are making terrible discoveries about AlDS. In ‘Sign O The Times‘. the artist then known as Prince sings about 'a big disease with a little name‘; about street violence. drug addiction. treak weather conditions. The millennium approaches. and in New York a gay. .lewish. Louisiana—horn playwright in his late twenties is writing about it.
ln October 198‘). San Francisco was struck by a major earthquake. Less than two years later. Tony Kushner‘s apocalyptic play Ange/s In .-l/m'ri('u opened at the city's liureka Theater. In it. l'ietional characters with ordinary problems are thrown together with the real. recently-
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‘I do think there is a serious need for something to believe in, because the standard religions just aren’t providing what people need anymore. They’re looking for personal conduits to God.’
deceased lawyer and power-broker Roy Cohn. a travel agent called Mr Lies. an Eskimo. a Mormon mother. a retired drag artiste named Belize and finally an angel. And that‘s just Part One.
The play‘s international success was rapid: a London production in 1992 by the Royal National 'l‘heatre led to a New York opening the following year. Running on Broadway for two years. Part One. Millennium Appmac/tes won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. ln l993. Part Two. l’eresrmika opened in London and New York. A l‘ilmscript has been completed. and Robert Altman is interested. Now. Glasgow’s 7:84 Theatre Company is staging the Scottish premiere of Millennium .»'l/)/n'()(t(‘lte.s‘. and plans to tackle l’erestmiku next year.
Artistic director lain Reekie sees the play — subtitled ‘A Gay Fantasia On National Themes' — as a progression in the company’s remit.
10 The List 22 Mar-4 Apr 1996