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Michael Ruiz del Vizo – Angels in America

    A Gay Fantasia on National Themes; Millennium Approaches and Perestroika


    Tony Kushner wrote Angels in America as an examination of politics and homosexuality in America during the AIDS epidemic that killed generations of queer people. And still, the story and themes are just as relevant today. One can draw similarities between the HIV/AIDS Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, with a close examination of America’s far-right government leaders and their disregard for the lives of their most disenfranchised citizens. My design focuses on humanity’s ever-changing nature and plays on the ideas of construction, destruction, renovation, restoring, and destroying.

    For Part One, Millennium Approaches, we see a theatre under construction/renovation. A large exoskeleton, with an oculus, reaches over the acting space, with scaffolding flanking the rest of the stage. The BAM Harvey Theatre was an essential component of the design because the theatre has a history of reconstruction and rehabilitation, which lead to embracing the historic space. The backwall takes a prominent visual role, and invited the rest of the theatre to take take part in the story, The scenery also reaches beyond proscenium and over the audience to immerse the viewer and bring the story’s action closer to the audience. As the destruction of Part One builds up, it reaches the climax when our Angel finally visits and burst through the ceiling. This leads into Part Two, Perestroika, where the rest of the action of the play takes place on top of the destruction left behind.

    When I choose to design Angels in America, I didn’t know how important it was for me to design it. The little queer history we are taught is often sanitized and white-washed, so when researching for this show- during a time of civil unrest and relearning- I made a deeper connection to my queer elders and learn more about our queer history.

    Designing this show helped me confront my feelings of isolation and loneliness during the pandemic, which allowed me to heal in ways that I wasn’t conscious about.

    “The Great Work Begins.”

    Production Credits

    BAM Harvey Theate

    Playwright – Tony Kushner