The first time Gabrielle Antolovich saw the play that became a lightning rod for the Bay Area’s gay community, she cried.
Jose Portillo’s first experience was so raw and personal that he wound up watching a televised version at home in private.
More than 25 years ago, Antolovich, Portillo and many others in the gay community found their rallying cry in “Angels in America,” a local legend that went on to Broadway fame. But the personal and political power of “Angels” has made it much more than an award-winning play that’s often hailed as one of the most important theater experiences of the 20th century.
Stephen Spinella as Roy Cohn in Angels in America (Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre.)
“‘Angels in America’ is iconic, a watershed moment for the gay community and a defining moment for the Bay Area theater,” says Amy Glazer, professor of film and theater at San Jose State University. “It was the first great American drama to so fearlessly encompass the AIDS epidemic. It spoke personally, nakedly, about the experience and yet also monumentally and poetically. It memorialized a crucial moment in San Francisco’s history, and in our country’s history.”
The two-part, seven-hour marathon production — which returns to the Bay Area at Berkeley Rep this month — lit a spark of activism amid the darkness of the AIDS epidemic. An operatic tale of love, loss and politics in the age of Reagan, the play remains a defining piece of gay history decades after its first production in San Francisco.
“Angels” sucks its audience into a densely-woven soap opera that entwines jilted lovers, the ghosts of the Rosenberg Trial, the teachings of the Book of Mormon and hallucinatory angels. At the heart of the sprawling epic is Prior Walter, a young gay man dying of AIDS, who is abandoned by his lover,
Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle