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Approaching the Millennium: Essays on "Angels in America" (Theater: Theory/Text/Performance) [Paperback]

Deborah R. Geis , Steven F. Kruger

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Price: 20.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Nov 1997 Theater: Theory/Text/Performance
Leading critics, scholars, and theater practictioners consider the most talked-about play of the 1990s

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Approaching the Millennium: Essays on "Angels in America" (Theater: Theory/Text/Performance) + Tony Kushner: New Essays on the Art and Politics of the Plays
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful work on very insightful work. 6 May 2001
By Jeremy Gable - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In my opinion, "Angels in America" is the greatest American play of all time. The blend of realism, fantasy, scenes of almost cinematic magnitude, and monologues full of stunning poetry, make this the most incredible theatrical experience ever. So it was with mixed feelings that I picked up this book. I was a little weary about spoiling the experience of the show with too much analysis. Fortunately, though, I was pleasantly surprised.
This book is not just scholarly babble. These college-friendly essays actually provide some very useful analogies to the work. It helped me to better understand, and therefore appreciate, Tony Kushner's amazing epic.
If you are a fan of "Angels in America", and want to gain more insight, then this is a definite buy for you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating in part, but also abstract and repetitive 17 Oct 2004
By MartinP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book offers a loosely organised collection of 18 essays on Kushner's play "Angels in America". If you are looking for a coherent exploration of the underlying themes and metaphors of this epic drama, you will not find it here. The contributions each stand very much on their own and highlight the work from a random, even somewhat bewildering diversity of angles. Most of them are highly abstract and philosophical. You will come across sentences like "The ambivalences that are so deeply described in Angels in America, its conflicted relationship to various utopianisms, to the concept of America, to Marxism, Mormonism, and liberalism, function, I believe, to accommodate the play to what I see as a fundamentally conservative and paradigmatically American politic - dissensus, the `hermeneutics of laissez-faire'," or, "Epic theatre needs to construct the experience of ideological contradiction as the mode of subjectivity it projects for spectators rather than the ideological totalization implied in supporter, judgment, empathy or even detachment."

There is a lot of repetition. The exposition about Walter Benjamin's essay `Theses on the Philosophy of History', seminal in the genesis of the play, is illuminating when it occurs in the first essay, but becomes wearisome on its third or fourth repetition several essays further on. Nearly all the authors focus on the obvious key scenes in the play (e.g., the opening of Millennium, the closing of Perestroika), which are also cited repetitively, and though their different viewpoints lend extra depth to these scenes, many others remain undiscussed. I was furthermore disappointed by the strong accent on AinA as a gay lib and/or AIDS play, and the comparative neglect of its universal meaning and appeal (as demonstrated by the extraordinary success of the recent HBO televised version). Some contributions struck me as pointless or out of place: the interview with Robert Altman was already superseded by later development at the time the book went to press, and though the editors think it offers worthwhile visions of Kushner, Altman's most common answer to questions appears to be `I don't know'. De Jongh's essay about AinA in London is more about British censorship history than Kushner's play.

All in all a very mixed bag, that I'm not sure I wholeheartedly recommend.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 7 May 2005
By Ishbel Szatrawski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I wasn't very keen on reading some scholar-talk when it comes to one of my favorite dramas ever. Not perhaps because of spoiling the magic, but because it's hard to write intelligent and witty not too much of the intellectual postmodern jargon, when it comes to questions on identity, race, gender etc.

I was simply amazed by this book.

The last part of essays (dealing with its performances) is perhaps the weakest of them all. It's like a bunch of a reviews.

However, the "Identity" part... kicks ass!

Obligatory for fans of Kushner but also for those, who're interested in the whole complexity of drama as a genre. One of the most intelligent and coherent books analysing the problem of structure, questions on a hero of the play (and her/his identity - this one is really brilliant!), as well as problems with using and dealing with the cultural patterns, which are involved in a theater play.
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