December 15, 2003

The Devil In Iraq

Well, Saddam is captured! Now what do we do about the devil who has gutted the clean air and water acts in America? That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Angels In America




I watched Millennium Approaches on television Saturday, and Perestroika last night. It has been almost 10 years since I first saw Millennium Approaches in New York and was thrilled to the core of my being. So much has changed for me in those years between watching the play live and watching the movie production on Television. In 1993 I still clung to the illusion that I was in control of my life. I lived at Orchard Hill Farm. Rebecca was still living, though Peter had died in 1992. I was able to climb the stairs to Sanctuary (my attic studio) every day. I performed two times as the foil man that year. And, obviously I was capable then, as I would not be today, of walking all over the island of Manhattan.

I am still thrilled by the play. However, the motion picture while staying close to the intent and order of the play has a more immediate, less humorous, more painful impact. For instance, the preposterous approach of the angel, doesn’t seem as implausible in the motion picture medium as it did in the stage production. The stage contained and constrained her while the medium of the motion picture verifies her fantastic presence because the visual and stereo effects explode off the edges of the screen implying the illusion of a real space behind the window of the cathode ray tube. Additionally, Roy Cohn’s character seems far more sinister and evil a presence in the motion picture than it did in the theater. It is partially because I am placed face to face with Al Pachino’s marvelous close-up (talking head) performance that fills the 31 inch screen with an image three times the size of my own head. In the theater Roy was on the stage, removed from me by the proscenium arch and 15 rows of seats. I laughed at Roy as I sat in the theater. He seemed a bit preposterous and sad. I did not laugh at Al Pacino’s performance on the small screen, not once! Instead, he is evil personified. Generally, the humor I found in the theater in New York was lost in my apartment in part because the camera is often in the face of the actor whoever he/she is. In “The Lector Effect” by Dale Peck on MSN Friday, December 12, 2003, Mr. Peck talking about director Mike Nichols approach to the play states,

He sticks a camera up against every face and strobes back and forth among them, or glances nervously around his set.


I’m not negative toward Mike Nichol’s direction of the camera the way Mr. Peck is because television and film move in close to the human face, as opposed to the remove established by the size of the room that separates performers from the live audience. I ’m also sure that the feeling I have of Millennium Approaches, the motion picture’s immediate "in-your-face" power and presence is due to my own extremely physically limited state at this time.

Additionally, I find that both the theatrical production, and motion picture production of Angels In America are passionately Postmodern dramas with social and political concerns. Person's lives are not the objects to be portrayed in this drama. Life is no longer seen as the Other. "Man," living life is the subject. The Postmodern approach is to deal with man as a social, political, economic being, who is thinking the thoughts about himself, even as the author writes the thought as discourse. Thought is seen as a proactive force and it’s presence in drama is seen as a way to define some aspect of man’s existence, and/or the playwrite's thoughtful discourse seeks to affect change in thinking itself. Angels In America succeeds at both. It is successful theater and now cinema because Tony Kushner’s goal is to seek change in the way “man” in our culture thinks and believes about himself in relation to the various kinds of sexuality we human beings exhibit. Hanna, Joe’s mother, states to Prior in a hospital room during Perestroika, and I’m stating from memory,“An angel is a belief with wings to carry you and arms to hold you. And, if the belief should no longer work for you, move on.” And, there you have it. Angels was and is Tony Kushner’s vehicle for social and political change. Through it he hoped to change the way “Man” in our culture thinks about AIDS, and his/her gay, lesbian, and bisexual sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. It is a call to each and every one of us; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual to help make that change possible.

I also believe it may be more, but that is thought for another day.

*The image above was taken from HBO Store, “Angels in America Script Book by Tony Kushner,” at http://store.hbo.com/product/BKAIA0001/s.zjb7zZ23, (visited 12/14/03 at 12:45 P.M.)

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Take a look at:

Holty’s blog for great political comentary and much more from an Australian point of view.

Mark Harden’s Artchive. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the best place to find excellent images of artist’s works on the WWW.

Gay Artist’s Galleries

John Giuffre’s blog Thoughts From A Collapsed Brain

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