The oral history of Angels in America, as told by the artists who created it and the audiences forever changed by it–a moving account of the AIDS era, essential queer history, and an exuberant backstage tale.
When Tony Kushner’s Angels in America hit Broadway in 1993, it won the Pulitzer Prize, swept the Tonys, launched a score of major careers, and changed the way gay lives were represented in popular culture. Mike Nichols’s 2003 HBO adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, and Mary-Louise Parker was itself a tour de force, winning Golden Globes and eleven Emmys, and introducing the play to an even wider public. This generation-defining classic continues to shock, move, and inspire viewers worldwide.
Now, on the 25th anniversary of that Broadway premiere, Isaac Butler and Dan Kois offer the definitive account of Angels in America in the most fitting way possible: through oral history, the vibrant conversation and debate of actors (including Streep, Parker, Nathan Lane, and Jeffrey Wright), directors, producers, crew, and Kushner himself. Their intimate storytelling reveals the on- and offstage turmoil of the play’s birth–a hard-won miracle beset by artistic roadblocks, technical disasters, and disputes both legal and creative. And historians and critics help to situate the play in the arc of American culture, from the staunch activism of the AIDS crisis through civil rights triumphs to our current era, whose politics are a dark echo of the Reagan ’80s.
Expanded from a popular Slate cover story and built from nearly 250 interviews, The World Only Spins Forward is both a rollicking theater saga and an uplifting testament to one of the great works of American art of the past century, from its gritty San Francisco premiere to its starry, much-anticipated Broadway revival in 2018.