Pushing the technological boundaries of live performance during the COVID era, The New York Times reports a group of all-star actors will perform a special Angels in America live benefit performance online on October 8.
Glenn Close, Andrew Rannells, Brian Tyree Henry, Lois Smith, Patti LuPone, Linda Emond, Nikki James, Laura Linney, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Paul Dano, S. Epatha Merkerson and Jeremy O. Harris will present seven scenes from Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, amounting to a special hourlong performance via YouTube. Whoopi Goldberg, Jake Gyllenhaal and Alan Cumming will also make special performances as part of the evening. Proceeds of the event will go to benefit the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) Fund to Fight Covid-19.
The production began earlier this summer, when the actors all began filming themselves separately performing their scenes. Through the magic of modern technology, director Ellie Hayman will combine their footage together into seamless scenes, in which all the performers appear together. Even better, the event allows the performers to cast themselves in unusual roles. The African-American Henry, for example, will play the role of Prior Walter, a character specified as caucasian in the script. Close will play Roy Cohn, a man.
“It lives between a theater piece and a film,” director Ellie Heyman, told The Times. “I’ve never worked on anything like it.”
Angels in America debuted on Broadway in 1993 to glowing reviews, and is widely considered one of the seminal works of American drama. Playwright Tony Kushner penned the script as a comment on conservative America’s complacency in the AIDS crisis. Kushner authorized the benefit performance after noting eerie parallels between AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Great Work Begins: Scenes from ‘Angels in America’ will stream on the Broadway.com YouTube channel at 8:30 pm.