Angels In America: Part 1

Miami University Theatre • Fall 2012

Layers of texture, lower Manhattan

About the Design

Prior, Louis, Joe, Harper and Roy come from very different places and have very different lives. They also have much in common. Their world is diseased and falling apart.

This is literal and figurative. The political and religious landscape that surrounds the characters is as toxic as the virus that infects Prior and Roy.

I took a walk through lower Manhattan on a research trip, and it occurred to me how the city is always being torn apart. Beautiful buildings fall victim to urban blight, decay, or a capitalist desire to build larger and more oppressive buildings. In the last decade the City's infrastructure was challenged by a hurricane, and terrorists reduced great steel towers to rubble in a matter of hours.

Another great wall, a few blocks from the previous image

I really took to the textures I saw in these research images. The ghosts of old destroyed buildings hung on the sides of the neighboring structures.  Concrete, masonry, brick. Striking grey palette.

It seemed natural for these characters to live in an environment that was uneven and falling apart. The infrastructure on which their lives are built no longer support them. One day they will find a way to rebuild out of the ruins. That is the hope the Angel brings.

The characters and situations are mostly real, but Kushner theatricalizes key parts of their lives, and introduces elements of fantasy. The set also strays from realism, from the uniformity of color and texture that ties all the locations together, to the visibility of the scene changes and conventions of the theatre. The two structures on either side of the stage rotate a vista to create looks for the many different locations, and different window units fly in, adding another direction of movement.

Hard surfaces contrast with billowy drapes. We came to think of light fabric as representing the "air" that carries the Angel to us.

Budget was about $3,500

Rocks in the Rambles

Rocks in the Rambles

The stairs on the NYC Federal Courthouse.

The stairs on the NYC Federal Courthouse.

Process Materials

Early sketches were done using Procreate on my iPad. I moved to 1/8" scale models. I did one for each scene, just to nail down all of the possible variations of the revolve units. Finally completed a 1/4" finsihed model, which I also painted the show off of.

Production Credits

Directed by Rosalyn Benson
Costume Design by Letty Delgado
Lighting Design by Russ Blain
Technical Direction by Steve Pauna

"The twentieth century. Oh, dear. The world has gotten so terribly, terribly old."