The Function of Dual Roles in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America

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In Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, the interconnection of people and events, that might ordinarily be viewed as disconnected or unrelated, is implicitly presented in the characters section. Dual roles are implemented by a playwright that has one actor portraying the roles of two or more characters, with or without thematic intentions. The use of “dual roles” in several scenes of this play can be viewed as a demonstration of Kushner’s effort in maintaining the interconnectedness between characters, communities (i.e. queer, heterosexual, AIDS and political communities) and events to which they are relative. This essay will argue that Kushner’s use of dual role’s effectively interconnects characters, events and their communities that may be seen as usually unrelated. Analysis of four specific characters, Antarctica, Oceania, Australia and Europa, in Act Five, Scene Five of “Perestroika”, will demonstrate the connection of each Act Five, Scene Five character, to the actors main character based on the implicit evidence presented in the actors “primary” and “secondary” roles, the scenes dialogue and the character interactions. As one will see, by implementing dual roles, Kushner is able to expand or preserve the concept of a major character while the actor portrays another character, keeping the audience from having to completely renegotiate their knowledge between what they physically see of new characters and actually use the new context to view triumphs and struggles for a major character.

The first dual role that maintains the interconnectedness of characters is that of “The Angel of Antarctica”, played by the actor who also plays Roy. Primarily, the choice of the actor of Roy to play a character entitled Antarctica appears log...

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...per to acknowledge the profounder contexts in which Europa and Africanaii interact within the scene.

In summation, the interconnection of people and events that one might ordinarily see as disconnected or unrelated is successfully applied in Angels of America. The use of dual roles, in correlation with dialogue and character interaction allow Kushner’s to interconnect four of the major characters established persona and communities, all the while fulfilling the requirements of other characters to further the play. Consequently, Kushner is able to expand or sustain, rather than renegotiate, his characters for the audience so that the messages, triumphs and struggles of one character may be evolved even while an actor is represented in another character.

Works Cited

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America. New York, NY: Theatre Communications Group Inc., 1995. Print.

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