As per Node you homework
The Assignment (Paraphrased): After reading Tony Kushner's Angels In America, Part I analyze a theme within the play as it pertains to the staged version which you will be seeing as it is presented by campus.
Easier Seen than Read - A Play Review of Angels In America
The growing concern of AIDS during the 1980's was certainly one which the general public tended to ignore as a legitimate dilemma. This ignorance was further exacerbated by the government in the United States, which seemed to disregard the epidemic. During a time in which things were supposed to be looking up for the American people, AIDS would certainly have proved itself detrimental to the good of the nation. And hence Reagan and his administration could not afford to bring such controversial issues into the light. Thus, the gay community most affected by AIDS was struck with having to fight the battle of death alone. This theme is thoroughly addressed in Angels In America Part I: Millennium Approaches, a play by Tony Kushner. Although overcoming the fear of death brought about by AIDS, as a theme, may be successfully found through analysis of the actual text of the play, there are some aspects which must be witnessed in person to fully grasp. Through the use of sights and sounds in the stage produced version of Angels in America, the central theme is drawn upon through the utilization of the senses.
Sight is one of the essential elements of the staged performance, without a background set, costumes, and props this play might have failed to convey its intended meaning. The first challenge in the production was to get the audience to feel that they were living in the 1980's. This aspect was successfully achieved through the use of two elements. The first was a timeline of events surrounding the stage, which presented facts about AIDS that were discovered during each of the years, starting from its discovery. Not only did this help fabricate the time of the play, but it also gave some outside background info on the progression of the virus. The second element used to form a distinct 1980's set was a trashcan which the woman in the Bronx was standing near when Hannah Pritt asked for directions to the city. The smoldering, graffiti-covered, Bronx-style barrel symbolized the fact that the national way of life during this time was not the great entity it was so often portrayed to be, emphasizing that poverty was another main concern that had to be dealt with. In a way it conveyed that in conjunction with avoiding the AIDS epidemic, the United States government was also avoiding the issue of poverty. Through setting up a stage which felt distinctly from the 1980's the audience could begin to life through the first-hand accounts of AIDS and it's spread across America.
Throughout the production color changes reflect the mood, and parallels can be seen between the shift in color and the shift from moods of sorrow and hope. For many of the initial scenes there were distinct color schemes meant to be drab and generally opaque. One prevalent example of such colors is presented in the costumes of the main characters. From the very start of the play, in which we are introduced to the Rabbi, we see a dark suit that foreshadows that the play is not going to be light-hearted. This foreshadowing is further emphasized by the set colors. The color of black and dark maroon, represented by the stage itself and the sheets of the bed, respectively, are often associated with depression. Although not exactly the most obvious of ways to strengthen the theme, the colors do subconsciously present the sorrow of the effect of AIDS on the characters. An interesting switch in color choice occurs during the hallucination scenes, particularly when Harper goes on her mental trip to Antarctica. In this we see her wrapped in joyous and rather pure colors of white and light blue. Although this may seem to condone drug use, we can see through the character development that it is only the illusion of happiness, an artificial high induced through Valium. The true joy occurs only at the very conclusion of the play in which Prior is visited by the Angel. Here we see bright shining colors obviously meant to invoke hope for the future. This spiritual situation shifts the story from fear to hope.
The auditory senses are an equally important aspect of the stage production, and the interpretations of the director were a key component of successfully conveying the theme. When it came to the musical choices, the interpretations of the director once again transported the audience into the era that was the 80's. Through the poppy tunes and disco beats of 80's styled songs such as "It's Raining Men", the audience more easily grasped what the characters were feeling. Another influential musical aspect was that of the final scene in which the play does not specifically designate a specific song to play, but merely states, "there is a great triumphal music, heralding" (118). The choice of the director was to use a sort of full out orchestral symphony as the angel appeared; which made the audience once again realize that the play was about a renewed hope for the future.
The voices and accents used by the actors in the play were the final element used to convey the theme of overcoming the sorrow of death brought about by AIDS. From the very beginning in which the rabbi is speaking at the funeral, we realize that although there are light hearted jokes, the main theme of the play is going to be deeper than mere jest. The Jewish beliefs brought up in this opening scene help to later justify Louis's departure from Prior, during a time of most sorrow. Yet this sorrow is calmed through the voice of the angel, whose words help comfort Prior in his time of greatest need. Through the portrayal of the angel's voice in the scenes in which it is talking to Prior, the audience themselves are also comforted to the fact that things in the end are probably going to be alright. In the same way that the visual aspects convey the switch between sadness and optimism, the audio components also show this renewed hope for the upcoming millennium.
Angels In America is a fantastical play that addresses the crucial theme of AIDS during the 1980's; and even though it was written years after the events it describes, still successfully conveys the importance of such an issue even today. And although this same theme can be sought out through analysis of the script itself, it takes a produced stage version to portray some of the more subtle details of the story. With the combination of sights and sounds the play takes on new shape and is certainly much more entertaining and moving.