Angels in America
By: Tony Kushner
Angels in America is a story about love, relationships (homosexual and heterosexual, disease, and over coming obstacles. It is a fanciful work of fiction because of the “out of world experiences” that occur during the show (real angels from heaven, illusions, seeing the dead, and talking to ancestors of characters who have passed on that they never knew). The story follows many characters through real life situations (some I hope many of us never experience) and how the situations are dealt with, and when people are pushed to their absolute emotional limits, how it is handled. Angels in America is a great example of a play that can teach us much about the human condition and what it is to be human by showing us themes that we all deal with in our lives, because we are human. The only difference is that this show takes these situations to another level (as many works of dramatic literature do) so that we can truly understand it. The themes that Angels in America uses the most to show the human condition are: community and change.
The sense of community in Angels in America is a very over powering one. Here is a perfect example of the way that the show takes everyday themes and takes them to another level so we can understand them on a higher frequency. Community is something we all deal with in our daily lives and it is very important to our survival because we are pack, or rather, social creatures. All of the characters in this show share the sense of community (for better or worse). They all have relationships (friendships and enemies) and rely on those to know what to do next in their lives. Just as we all do in our lives. As the show goes on we see how this sense of community helps some characters, and hinders others. All based on how they handle the community situations they are in. There is a lesson to be learned there for any reader of the play.
The second theme that relates to humans most in this show is change, the idea of change and the actual action of it. For example many of the characters in this show discover their personal sexuality to be homosexual. They all have to either resist this change, or allow the change to occur, making sacrifices for the change. This is an extreme example (though many people in the human race do struggle with this particular issue) but it lends itself to show us about changes in our own lives. The characters who fight the changes in their lives (more changes than just sexuality including AIDS, marriage, death) ultimately end up getting the worse end of the coin flip in life. This lesson can be better taught by reading the play, to truly see how the characters deal with change.
The moral of the two themes is that in our lives we all encounter both themes (community and change), they are some of the largest part of our existence as human beings. Angels in America shows a wonderful lesson in embracing community and change. It teaches us the lesson that embracing change and embracing our communities with an open mind and a general positive attitude, we can avoid much of the turmoil and struggle in life.