Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is a 1993 play in two parts by American playwright Tony Kushner. The work won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. In 2003, it became an HBO miniseries directed by Mike Nichols.
The play is a complex, often metaphorical, and at times symbolic examination of AIDS and homosexuality in America in the 1980s. Certain major and minor characters are supernatural beings (angels) or deceased persons (ghosts). The play contains multiple roles for several of the actors. Initially and primarily focusing on a gay couple in Manhattan, the play also has several other storylines, some of which occasionally intersect.
The two parts of the play are separately presentable and entitled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, respectively.
In 2017, it is being revived at the National Theatre and features a star-studded cast including Stuart Angell, Susan Brown, Laura Caldow, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, Nathan Lane, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle, Becky Namgauds, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Russell Tovey, Stan West and Lewis Wilkins.
The production will be directed by Olivier and Tony award-winner Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse, Husbands & Sons) and designed by Ian MacNeil, with costume by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Paule Constable, choreography by Robby Graham, music by Adrian Sutton, sound by Ian Dickinson, puppetry co-designer and director Finn Caldwell, with puppetry co-designer Nick Barnes, illusions by Chris Fisher and aerial direction by Gwen Hales.
The play takes place in America in the mid-1980s. In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, New Yorkers grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell.
The first of the two plays which form Angels in America, Millennium Approaches, received its British premiere directed by Declan Donnellan’s at the NT’s Cottesloe Theatre in 1992 (artwork above), and was joined by Perestroika in a double-bill the following year. 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the shows.
Tony Kushner said: ‘25 years ago, Richard Eyre and the National Theatre launched Angels in America with Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s brilliant production. I’m thrilled that Angels is returning there. And of course, I’m delighted that the production features a cast so fantastic I wouldn’t dare dream it up, directed by the ever-astonishing Marianne Elliott!’
Director Marianne Elliott said: ‘Such plays come along possibly once, or twice, in a lifetime…if you’re lucky. The show is current and inspiring. It stretches your mind and your soul, and should change you irrevocably. I think, to anyone who sees the play, as to me who is currently living with it, it feels like it is OUR story. Politically, but also personally. I think you can’t help connect with it, whoever you are. Tony Kushner is the Shakespeare of our day.’
Public booking for Angels in America will open at 8.30am on Friday 20 January 2017. You can buy tickets by clicking here.
Part One: Millennium Approaches & Part Two: Perestroika
by Tony Kushner
From 11 April
Running Time: Each Part is 3 hours and 30 mins approx, with one interval in each part