The Language of Angels in America

Posted by on 20 May 2016 | | 0 Comments

“Your problem, Henry, is that you are hung up on words, on labels… AIDS. Homosexual. Gay. Lesbian.” 
– Roy Cohn (Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, Act One, Scene 9)
The world of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America can seem like a foreign place today. Loaded with now-uncommon references to Reaganites and McCarthyism, culture wars and Valium, anti-communists and Soviet spies, this distinguished play about American life is a world away from what we know.  
As good plays do, Kushner’s language reflects, and is informed by, the society in which he lived – 1980s New York City. Set during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, 15 years before the new millennium (now a distant memory), so successfully did Kushner capture and equivocate the zeitgeist of the period, he was awarded, among other accolades, the highly-esteemed Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1993).
His Gay Fantasia on National Themes channels the paranoia about the millennia and reflects the anxieties of the time. Littered with references to Mormonism and Judaism, long-dead Republicans and Democrats, Kushner unashamedly fits political and religious discourse into his work. Characters discuss, debate and contest politics, identity, ethnicity, race, religion and homosexuality, and only Kushner’s poetic voice and wicked sense of humour ties it together. The complexities of his portrayal of a society about to combust can make the literal appearance of an Angel seem the most straightforward element in this epic play!
An important piece of theatre, Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches struck a chord that resonates today. Now, as Western Australia’s State Theatre Company brings it to life once again, we must contextualise Tony Kushner’s work and the rich tapestry of his language for a new audience. 
Here are some examples of terms and language in Angels in America, Part One, with definitions: 
AIDS Act 1, Scene 9
A disease of the immune system characterized by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections.
Ethel Rosenberg Act 3, Scene 5
An American citizen who spied for the Soviet Union. 
Feh Act 1, Scene 4
A Yiddish expression defined as something you say when you are disgusted with something.
Goyische Act 1, Scene 1
A term used by a Jew to refer to someone who is not Jewish.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus Act 1, Scene 9
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. 
Jeane Kirkpatrick Act 3, Scene 2
An American ambassador and an ardent anti communist.  
La Cage Act 1, Scene 2
A musical that focuses on a gay couple: Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub featuring drag entertainment, and Albin, his romantic partner and star attraction, and the farcical adventures that ensue when Georges's son, Jean-Michel, brings home his fiancée's ultra-conservative parents to meet them. La cage aux folles literally means "the cage of mad women". However folles is also a slang term for effeminate homosexuals (queens).
Litvak shtetl Act 1, Scene 1
Litvak are Lithuanian Jews. A shtetl is a small Jewish town or village formerly found in Eastern Europe.
Maudlin Act 2, Scene 8
Self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental.
Mohicans Act 1, Scene 1
An Eastern Algonquian Native American Tribe.
Monolith Act 3, Scene 2
An obelisk column, large statue formed from a single block of stone.  
Mormons Act 1, Scene 2
Most often refers to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) because of their belief in the Book of Mormon, though members often refer to themselves as Latter-day Saints or sometimes just Saints.
Nancy Drew Act 1, Scene 7
A fictional character in a mystery fiction series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer.
Ontologically Act 3, Scene 2
Of or relating to essence or the nature of being. 
Pepto-Bismol Act 2, Scene 7
A brand of medicine claimed to be effective against nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea.
Rabbi Act 1, Scene 1
Originates from the Hebrew meaning “teacher.” In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word rabi meaning “My master”.
Reaganite Act 1, Scene 6
A supporter of Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States and/or policies that he endorsed.
Scion Act 3, Scene 7
A descendant or heir, especially of a wealthy or prominent family.
Schtupping Act 1, Scene 2
Have sexual intercourse with (someone).
Seltzer Act 2, Scene 4
A naturally effervescent of water mineral.
Sid the Yid Act 3, Scene 2
Offensive slang a derogatory word for a Jew.
Sodomite Act 3, Scene 6
A person who has anal sex with another person.
Sophistry Act 1, Scene 9
A subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.
Star of David Act 1, Scene 1
Known in Hebrews as the Shield of David or Magen David; a generally recognized symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism.
The Holy Scriptures Act 1, Scene 5
A collection of books written over multiple centuries by those inspired God to do so.
Tumesce Act 3, Scene 6
Swollen or becoming swollen.
Utah Act 1, Scene 8
A state in the western United States.
Valium Act 1, Scene 7
A brand of diazepam used as a tranquilizer. 
Yahrzeit Act 1, Scene 1
A candle or called a memorial candle neshama, meaning “soul candle”.
Yid nebbish Act 3, Scene 5
A person regarded as weak-willed or timid.
Zeitgeist Act 2, Scene 7
The spirit of the time, general trend of thought or feeling.

“Your problem, Henry, is that you are hung up on words, on labels… AIDS. Homosexual. Gay. Lesbian.”

Media Release: CAST calls on Federal government to reinstate Australia Council funds

Posted by on 13 May 2016 | | 0 Comments


Friday 13 May 2016
CAST calls on Federal government to reinstate Australia Council funds
The Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies (CAST) calls on the Federal government to formally review its budget cuts to the Australia Council after today’s announcement that 62 arts organisations will be defunded after failing to secure key organisation core funding.
CAST considers these cuts and subsequent defunding of arts organisations to be a deeply concerning outcome that will cause a devastating cultural and employment deficit with widespread and long-lasting impact.
‘These cuts have an impact just as dramatic and negative as the arts industry has feared and will cause irreparable damage across the sector – one that contributes over $4.2 billion to GDP in Australia ,’ the CAST Executive Council said.
Of the 147 small to medium arts companies previously awarded operational funding through the Australia Council, only 85 were successful in the four year funding rounds announced today. Despite 43 new organisations receiving funding, this still leaves 62 organisations with an unknown future including the risk of closure, hundreds of job losses, and an overall increased instability throughout the arts industry as these companies join the many others whose survival balances precariously on a knife-edge.
Small to medium companies are the lifeblood of the theatre sector across Australia and where some of the most innovative new Australian work is generated and presented. They also punch well above their weight in terms of both national and international touring and play a vital role in developing artists and practitioners nationally, including five of the current artistic directors of CAST companies who were significantly supported by the small to medium sector before taking on executive roles at major performing arts organisations.
Likewise, many acclaimed and award-winning co-productions in recent CAST company seasons would not have been possible without collaboration with small to medium organisations. These organisations include Arena Theatre, Barking Gecko, Brink Productions, Chunky Move, Circa, Force Majeure, Griffin, Hothouse Theatre, Ilbijerri, LaBoite, Performing Lines, Playwriting Australia, St Martins Youth Arts Centre, The Blue Room Theatre, Windmill Theatre and Yirra Yaakin.
‘It is virtually certain that a number of the key organisations defunded today won’t survive. While CAST acknowledges that the government’s new Catalyst program might provide funding for some projects that may have previously been supported by the Australia Council, project funding is of little use to a company that has no operational support to exist in the first place,’ the CAST Executive Council said.
Funding cuts at any level of the arts sector have a dramatic flow on effect throughout the industry – from independent artists to the major performing arts companies. In this sudden climate of uncertainty and upheaval amongst the sector, CAST is committed to supporting artists and small to medium companies to help sustain their future and that of Australia’s vibrant cultural landscape.
In doing so, CAST implores the Federal government to show that they recognise and understand the importance of these companies and take prompt action to review and reinstate funds cut from the Australia Council to the small to medium sector and key organisations.
This statement is co-signed by the Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies and the executive management of each organisation.


Friday 13 May 2016