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From April 17 to 19, Sayantan Deb ’14 will direct the first part of Tony Kushner’s play “Millennium Approaches: Angels in America Part 1” at the Adams Pool Theater. Although the play is set during the American AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and has three gay protagonists, Deb and the cast emphasize that “Angels” is not a play about being gay, but is rather a play about universal human relationships.
Deb thinks most audience members will be able to understand the experience of looking in from the outside, a theme the play addresses. “‘Angels’ is not about being gay in America…. The reason I wanted to do ‘Angels’ is because it is about being otherized in a nation that claims to be about everyone,” Deb says. Cast member Samantha A. Garin ’17 agrees. “It doesn’t really matter that it is a show on gay themes; it is just a great show that is being put up in the Pool and that happens to have gay themes in it.”
One of Deb’s directorial choices is the decision to have actors double as males and females. Alice Abracen ’15 views it as a paradoxical tool to makes the audience move beyond identifying people merely by their gender. “I am playing two different roles. One is a man and one is a woman…. whenever you see something like that, you have to question why has he pitted these two characters together,” Abracen says. “It gives you a great stance to see how these two characters are different besides their gender.”
“I think the show really does a great job of playing with the gender binary and forces us to ask, ‘What is a man, what is a woman?’” Garin says.
Deb chooses to focus on the the first half of Kushner’s play because it compels the audience to deal with an ambiguous future rather than giving them a clear answer to the questions brought up in “Angels.” “I think that Kushner quite brilliantly gets to a solution, but for me the resolution not being there was a statement of its own.”
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