Angels at the National and Bohemians in the West End: transposing and reviving American dramatic depictions of AIDS to the British stage in Angels in America and Rent
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This study focuses on two highly successful AIDS plays, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and Jonathan Larson’s Rent. These plays were performed in London in 1994 and 1998 respectively and revived in 2007. Both plays are key examples of American theatrical representations of AIDS performed on the London stage. This thesis examines how these plays represented AIDs on the London stage. Secondly the reception of these American AIDS plays is considered when staged in London is considered. Finally the longer term significance of performing these texts, both in terms of depictions of AIDS and the wider stylistic elements in relation to the theatrical landscape is also examined. Through reflection on the reception of these plays, they are considered for their significance of their depiction of AIDS and place within London theatre. It is examined how, through the use of political, medical and emotional ties, these plays successfully depicted AIDS when transposed to the British stage. In these successful depictions of AIDS, and in their overall press reception, these plays developed a significant place in the London theatrical landscape. Using archival records and press responses, the performance of these plays in their original production and in revival is considered in relation to the original productions and the revived versions in London. The consideration of live, performed versions of these texts is of central importance, and further theoretical consideration is built around the nature of a performance text. In using archival records, elements of the productions and performance are considered in a manner that is not possible if only using the published, written version of the play. These plays are considered as significant works on AIDS that transposed successfully to the London theatrical landscape, making Angels and Rent not only but successful and important parts of the British theatrical landscape.
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