‘Angels in America’ Holds Relevant Message for Today

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Angels in America graphic with crying eyes

The Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts presents Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches,” opening on Nov. 7 for seven performances in the Squires Studio Theatre.

Winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play, “Angels in America” deals with political issues and the AIDS epidemic while meditating on the themes of change and loss.

“Millennium Approaches” is part one of “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.” Set in New York City in 1985, “Angels in America” centers around a group of separate yet connected individuals. The characters, principally gay men, find themselves confronting a series of disasters; in particular, they are caught between the rising tide of AIDS and a generally unsympathetic society.

Kushner, an American dramatist, became one of the most highly acclaimed playwrights of his generation after the “Angels in America” debut. In addition to his work for the stage, he has contributed screenplays to several Steven Spielberg films. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2013.

“I’m excited to help tell a story that isn’t often told,” said Laura Vitale, a master-of-fine-arts candidate in theatre arts who is also serving as costume designer for the play.

“Angels in America” offers an exploration of identity that remains just as relevant in 2018 as it did during its premiere 25 years ago. The adversity seen throughout the play — accompanied by an enduring optimistic outlook — makes “Angels in America” a testament to the current political zeitgeist.

Director Daniel Bird Tobin, an instructor in the School of Performing Arts, is dedicating the show to the artist Keith Haring.

“I came across Haring and his work while doing research on the 1980s,” said Tobin. “His images were a vibrant part of the protests and movements during the height of the AIDS crisis. Sometimes his pieces are overtly about the AIDS crisis, and even when not, they address larger ideas about sexuality, humanity, and the influence of power that are essential to understanding ‘Angels in America.’ I can’t help but see a tremendous emotional vibrancy and beauty in his work that inspired me in approaching ‘Angels.’”

Performances of “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches” are Nov. 7–9, at 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.; and Nov 12–14 at 7:30 p.m.

All performances are in Squires Studio Theatre, located in the Squires Student Center at 290 College Ave. on the Virginia Tech campus.

Tickets and Parking

Reserved seat tickets, which are $12 general and $10 for seniors and students, may be purchased online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Squires ticket office on the first floor of Squires Student Center, or by calling 540-231-5615. Tickets will be available at the Squires ticket office beginning one hour prior to the performance.

Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Square parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information is available online.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please email Susan Sanders or call 540-231-5200 during regular business hours at least 10 days prior to the event.

The 2018–19 School of Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre series will also present the comedy “The Foreigner” by Larry Shue Feb. 26–March 5, and William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” April 23–30. Tickets for all performances are now on sale.

Written by Olivia Jones, a graduate student in arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts.