Tony Kushner’s Angels in America began with an image: a man in bed dying of AIDS. Well, big deal. Been there, done that, seen it off-Broadway and on TV. But Kushner enlarged the image—an angel comes crashing through the bedroom ceiling—and, in that one act, set himself on the path to a Pulitzer, a Tony, and bus-poster fame as a Gap model. According to one of the Pulitzer jurors, Variety’s Jeremy Gerard, “Angels was in a category by itself in terms of the scope and theatrical imagination it represented.” The key word there is “scope”: Kushner has always resented the way that most playwrights, unlike novelists, are restricted to two hours of staged traffic management, so, in Angels, whenever he found himself in a bind dramatically, he simply raised the stakes. As he sees it, “You fuck up when you chicken out”—and,...

 
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