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Angels in America

Tony Kushner

Perestroika, Act Two

Perestroika, Act One

Perestroika, Act Two, page 2

page 1 of 2

(Act Two is subtitled "The Epistle")


Scene 1

After the funeral of a drag queen friend, Prior bitterly denounces death and the marginalizing of gay men. He is dressed strangely, in a black, prophet-like coat and hood. When Belize questions his moodiness, Prior tells him that the Angel was not a dream: he has been given a prophecy in the form of a book.

Scene 2

Scene Two begins in a flashback, to the angelic visitation three weeks earlier. In piercing, monumental tones, the Angel announces herself as the Angel of America and proclaims that Prior is a prophet. She directs Prior to remove the Sacred Prophetic Implements from their hiding place, which was supposed to have been revealed in a dream. Prior, terrified, says he has no idea what she means. She coughs, puzzled, and consults with an unseen figure, then tells Prior he will find them under the kitchen tiles. He resists, until in a fierce outburst she commands him to submit to the will of heaven. They go into the kitchen and return with a leather suitcase containing a pair of spectacles with rocks for lenses. Prior puts them on briefly, then rips them off, appalled at the vision. Then he removes a bright steel book from the suitcase. Before he reads it, he asks why her presence always turns him on sexually. She replies that "Not Physics but Ecstatics" makes the engine of creation run. They are both increasingly aroused. They have an intense sexual coupling and a ferocious climax.

Prior, in an aside, explains that angelic sexual couplings fuel creation, and that the Angels are incredibly powerful but have no ability to create. But by creating humans, God set in motion the potential for randomness and change. The Angels were disturbed by humanity's migratory instinct, which manifested as tremors in Heaven, a city like San Francisco. Finally, on April eighteen, 1906, the day of the San Francisco earthquake, God abandoned Heaven, never to return. The Angels, believing that human beings' energy drove God away, insist that humankind must stop moving and mingling. Prior, disturbed, tries to reject the prophecy, but the Angel tells him he has no way to hide. She takes the book and ascends into Heaven.

When Belize has heard the full story, he refuses to believe it is real, and accuses Prior of imagining the Angel as a metaphor for wanting his disease to stop and Louis to come back. Prior admits that he might well be going crazy, but that he might also really be a prophet.


Act Two is unique in Part Two for being comparatively brief—only two scenes, one a minor prelude to the other, and the scene's entirety less than half the length of other acts. In this act, of course, the appearance of the Angel is finally played out, an event that has begun twice before (at the end of Millennium Approaches and in the first scene of Perestroika). It is in Scene Two that the Angel first speaks at length and in which her deluded cosmology is finally revealed.

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Subtitle mistake

by kaythumbs, November 13, 2014

I can see that this is not the forum for this but I don't know how to get a note to Tony Kushner nor to the people responsible for the subtitles. Had seen Angels in America a couple of times when it first came out so was revisiting it. Now old, I turned on the subtitles. In the beginning, Justin Kirk shows a lesion to his lover, who says it is just a burst blood vessel. Justin/Prior says " It is KS." The subtitle said "It is chaos."

At first I was appalled by the mistake and that nobody had apparently checked out the subtitles. ... Read more


1 out of 5 people found this helpful


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