“The Great Work Begins”: The Reception and Relevance of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America in a Millennial World

Sprott, Zoë E.
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When it was first performed in 1991, Tony Kushner’s play about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1980s America, Angels in America, was clearly relevant and, because of this, successful. Nearly three decades later, 2017 saw a resurgence of Angels in America, raising an important question: why now? This paper seeks to answer this question (previously posed by David Savran in 1995) through the dual lenses of close reading and reception theory, studying the evolution of productions over time and examining the extended lifetime of Kushner’s characters and messages. The renewed relevance of Angels in America is the result of a return to a sociopolitical and environmental landscape that is similar to that of the 1980s. Furthermore, the play survives not only because of such similarities, but because it is written for turbulent periods of change and preaches a message of hope and perseverance; for this reason, it will continue to thrive long past this moment in time.
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