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Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches
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Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches (Angels in America #1)

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  12,771 ratings  ·  201 reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winner for Drama, 1993. The first part of Tony Kushner's epic drama of America in the 1980s. "A vast, miraculous play.... provocative, witty and deeply upsetting.... a searching and radical rethinking of American political drama."--Frank Rich, The New York Times ¶"Daring and dazzling! The most ambitious American play of our time."--Jack Kroll, Newsweek
Paperback, 136 pages
Published May 1st 1993 by Theatre Communications Group (first published February 13th 1992)
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Its like doing lines of cocaine while at a Prince concert then going home and reading Foucault.


Angels in America is a grandiose, surrealistic bombast of a play dealing with almost every contemporary American facet of being gay in the U.S. during the late 80's to early 90's. Politics, law, Aids, family, religion are all included. Kushner examines these elements and the nature of Power in the states, how it is used in these relationships, and the effect it has on the gay community externally and
ROY: Your problem, Henry, is that you are hung up on words, on labels, that you believe they mean what they seem to mean. AIDS. Homosexual. Gay. Lesbian. You think these are names that tell you who someone sleeps with, but they don't tell you that.


ROY: No. Like all labels they tell you one thing and one thing only: where does an individual fit into the food chain, the pecking order? Not ideology, or sexual taste, but something much simpler: clout. Not who I fuck or who fucks me, but wh
Steve Dow
The master. Have read this and part II twice, watched the mini series, seen a small stage version. Australian writer Robert Dessaix once said Angels in America was one of the few texts that elevated AIDS to art. I agree in this case, though Kushner's work is so much more: truth, beauty and an elegy for modern, fearful America. Here's my 2009 interview with the playwright.

New York playwright Tony Kushner writes about angels, but he is not so sure there is a
As a former reader of plays submitted to a nationally recognized theatre, I remember reading this play well before it was ever staged. I didn't care for it a whole lot at the time, but I suspect it has gone through a few rewrites to get where it is today.

What I liked, now, about this script is the very theatricality of it. Kushner understands theatre and writes to it exceedingly well.

The characters are well defined and the 'forwards,' the moments in the play which keep the reader/audience wantin
Apr 30, 2013 Roxanne added it
Shelves: top-25
Summary: This is truly an epic work. It deals with so many themes of what it means to be gay in America in a fantastical, yet richly honest and real way which I imagine is very hard for a writer to achieve. It deals with controversial themes such as politics, disease, religion and family without seeming preachy, which the play never does. It is both devastating and humorous. The audience member or reader cannot help but be totally absorbed by the unique characters woven into this fantastic tale. ...more
Harper: It's terrible. Mormons are not supposed to be addicted to anything. I'm a Mormon.
Prior: I'm a homosexual.
Harper: Oh! In my church we don't believe in homosexuals.
Prior: In my church we don't believe in Mormons.

~ Act 1, Scene 7

I re-read this play, as well as Part II, about once a year or so, just . . . because. It remains one of the most powerful pieces of dramatic literature I've ever read, and I feel lucky that I've been able to see it live on stage. The play is multi-layered, explorin
Harper: I'm not addicted. I don't believe in addiction and I... I never drink and I never take drugs.
Prior: Well, smell you, Nancy Drew.
Harper: Except for Valium.
Prior: Except Valium in wee fistfuls.
Harper: It's terrible. Mormons are not supposed to be addicted to anything. I'm a Mormon.
Prior: I'm a homosexual.
Harper: In my church, we don't believe in homosexuals.
Prior: In my church, we don't believe in Mormons.

Rachel Rood
Very good play, makes me want to see the HBO series
Cheri Portman
I saw this play about a year ago, and loved it.

I read this book and finished the last page with goosebumps racing their way across my arms. I was sad to see it done, and utterly thrilled that I have part two waiting on my bedstand.

This is a marvelous piece of writing. I haven't read many plays, pretty much restricted to Shakespeare so far, so I can't compare it to much else... not that I need to. Good writing is good writing, riveting storytelling, etc...

The characters in this play are wonderf
David Hicks
WOW. Saw this on Broadway and will never forget it.
I've only seen this before as the HBO series, never actually staged. The HBO adaptation is faithfully and fluidly adapted, but what strikes me in actually reading Angels is the chance to views its two parts as two separate plays. (Plays that were published years apart!) The first half is consumed with potential, with hints and allusions toward its grander ideas; Tense on both narrative and thematic levels. I'm looking forward to see if the second half can keep up the balance, or if it even tries ...more
A very serious play with some funny parts. It is good to read it. There are so many themes: AIDS, the gay community, power, miscommunication, loneliness, denial . . . it is powerful play.

A scene that stands out to me is when all the sores because of the AIDS are being described . . . very touching and moving. Well done without having to suddenly have death be a part that the audience is experiencing. Keeps you in suspense for the next play (which as of the writing of this review, I've not read).
Elliot Ratzman
Kushner’s epic work is inspired holy writ to me, imagining some of the most moving enactments of Law and Grace. The HBO movie adaptation is excellent, but it leaves out a few lines and scenes here and there. All who loved the movie should read through the play as well. The play is on its surface about AIDS and 80s politics. A ballet of relationships of erstwhile father-figures, friends and lovers dance through the stresses of illness, addiction and identity. There are angels, ghosts and prophets ...more
I failed to see theater play last season (really can't explain why/how). It was such a surprise and courage to put it on the repertoire here in one quite homophobic society. Anyway, recently I've listened an interview of Tony Kushner when I found out that now is the 20th anniversary of the premiere of “Angels” which reminded me that I could at least read the play if I missed the to see it.
I was hooked instantly. I wasn't surprised a bit this won Pulitzer Prize! Such an imaginative and poetry li
Robert Beveridge
Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (Theatre Communications Group, 1993)

I thought Millennium Approaches was going along like a house on fire for the first two-thirds of its length. It's character-driven, it's funny despite its heartbreaking subject matter, it handles an historical figure in such a way as to make him larger than life. (I will admit up front that, despite my mother having suggested I do so for something like twenty years now, I have not read Citizen Cohn, her fa
Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is shamelessly ambitious: spanning ages, religions and time itself, unwinding the rich tapestries of the world his characters inhabit in anticipation of the impending millennium. Over two plays Millennium Approaches and Perestroika (1992), Kushner reigns in this sprawling epic through two devices: building clear storylines in which his characters are offered arcs which tie the script together in its complex and interlocking structure, and through couching all the ...more
Though I absolutely adored this play, I do have to admit that it runs too long and could've been tightened. The play is broken down into a lot of short scenes. The scenes that run a decent length pack a real emotional whollop, but some of the shorter scenes just seem to slow down the pacing, and are not very substantial. I'm also not a big fan of the slow progression of the Angel's scenes.

Those are my only big complaints. Other than that I loved the characters. Belize by far delivers my favorite
I saw the infamous Charlotte Rep production in...1995, I think, and it more or less changed everything-- what classes I took in college, where I went to college, and what kind of theatre I wanted to commit my life to. I'm in the midst of a reading of the play at North Carolina Stage Company (Nov 9-11, 2007), so I'm going to post something I wrote for that here:

I first saw Angels in America at Charlotte Rep in, I think, 1995. It was one of those rare, actually life changing events, and a real tur
In an odd way, this play felt to me like the grown-up version of Rent (yes, the Jonathan Larson musical) - not only because it has similar themes (HIV/AIDS, queer issues, leaving the one you love) but because both have an element of.. joy in togetherness; friendship; love without boundaries.

Obviously, Angels in America is a lot more complex & sophisticated than Rent. It's full of political, religious, & societal themes; none of the characters are 100% good or 100% evil, not even the ones
Rachael MacLean
Absolutely one of my favorite plays. There are few scenes that could maybe use some paring down or elimination all together (it needs some kill-your-darlings editing), but less so in this part than in the second part. Nonetheless, it's compelling, beautifully written, and complex. Multiple narratives run together seamlessly and deal with a huge range of themes and issues. All that wrapped up in a layer of magical-realistic fantasy? Right up my alley. A must-read.
I read this book on the subway and ended up in Brooklyn, 4 stops past where I was supposed to be. This is not a subway book. This is an opus about what it means to be human and the ways we try to deny or enhance our humanity. I find it hard to read plays in general, but this one was so enthralling, especially how so many of the scenes were split scenes with simultaneous dialogue. It kept me interested and kept me thinking. I will return to this for sure.
Jul 09, 2014 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
Don't think I've ever read a play where I felt connected to the characters so quickly. Kushner develops a broad range of themes in such a short span of time, it's amazing that it hangs together so effortlessly and feels completely unforced. I give it 5 stars for knocking my socks off, but I won't feel like it's complete until I read Part Two.
I was totally turned off by the cover of this book, and the title didn't appeal to me either, but because this book is listed in Spark Notes under the "A's", it's part of my reading project.
I was surprised to discover this book was actually a play in two parts - of which only part one was contained in this book, so the small novel became even smaller at this point, and I read it in a day. The writing was very well done and I could easily picture the characters in my mind as I read the dialog. I
Zach Irvin
This was a great play. I'm sad I won't get to read the rest of the play for my class, but I'm sure in will get to it at some point. By turns brutally real and fantastical, the play was an amazing depiction of the sexual politics in the 80s. Looking forward to talking about this in class.
Neil Schleifer
Another epic piece, this historical pagaent -- a "fantasia on national themes" circea the Reagan-era -- features dying AIDS patients as new-world prophets, historical figures like a dying Roy Cohen and a spectral Ethel Rosenberg sparring literally to the death; and the highly religious (orthodoz jews, Mormons) questioning what it means to be faithful in a world where faith seems to be disappearing even as angels descend from the sky. While the writing is breathtaking at times, it is probably her ...more
Raely Qiu
Incredible. Absolutely delicious. I got so wrapped up in Prior's emotional journey that I was crying with him and feeling with him. Such beautiful pain on display here. 5/5 Highly recommend, but note: it is a very adult work.
I read Parts One and Two of this play for a class that I'm taking, and didn't like both. I will admit that the subject matter made me uncomfortable (gay relationships on many levels, but one man is LDS); however, even beyond that, I thought the plays played in to too many stereotypes that are already held about homosexuals and Mormons. Rather than moving the conversation beyond these stereotypes, Kushner simply keeps the audience there. Neither play really ended (which also might be Kushner's in ...more
When I first heard that we were reading Angels in America I knew that it was an HBO mini series. I had no idea who wrote it but I knew that the show got very good reviews. Not only did I think of the HBO mini series, but I also thought of Danny Glover and Angels in the Outfield. When I was little I was obsessed with Angels in the Outfield. I thought that Angels in America would be somewhat related to Angels in the Outfield, but it turns out I was wrong. Angels in the Outfield was about a basebal ...more
Amazing, smart, compelling. I can't think of enough descriptors. This play about, I guess you could say-AIDS, has so many levels. It is about America-racism, sexism, corruption, politics, religion, marriage, homophobia, even anti-communism wrapped in heart-wrenching personal stories. I heard about this play about the time it and Part Two, Perestroika were first produced together in Los Angeles, but somehow I have never seen it. I even missed it when it came out as a made for TV movie that got ra ...more
Reading the play is a completely different (and highly recommended) experience than watching the HBO mini-series.
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Tony Kushner is an award-winning American playwright most famous for his play Angels in America, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is also co-author, along with Eric Roth, of the screenplay of the 2005 film Munich, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned Kushner (along with Roth) an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
More about Tony Kushner...

Other Books in the Series

Angels in America (2 books)
  • Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika
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“I just wondered what a thing it would be...if overnight everything you owe anything to, justice, or love, had really gone away. Free.

It would be...heartless terror. Yes. Terrible, and...

Very great. To shed your skin, every old skin, one by one and then walk away, unemcumbered, into the morning.”
“Don't be afraid; people are so afraid; don't be afraid to live in the raw wind, naked, alone...Learn at least this: What you are capable of. Let nothing stand in your way.” 56 likes
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