Twenty-five years ago Tony Kushner’s Angels in America came to Broadway. It was an audacious work of theater, somehow meshing a realistic depiction of the havoc AIDS wreaks on a body, complex discussions of American political history, pissed-off angels, and Mormonism. The ghost of Ethel Rosenberg was a character, as was Roy Cohn. Gay and straight sex happened onstage. Audiences were confronted with both Kaposi’s Sarcoma lesions and emotional abuse.
And somehow, miraculously, the show was hilarious.
Now Isaac Butler and Dan Kois have undertaken the herculean labor of creating an oral history of the play, made up of interviews with hundreds of people, from Kushner himself all the way to college students studying the play. The result is an exhaustive look at creativity and theater that is nearly as exhilarating and fun to read as the play itself.
Let’s begin with a tiny bit of backstory. ...