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The Function Of Dual Roles In Tony Kushner’s Angels In America

1173 words - 5 pages

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 logical, as Roy is typically viewed as a cold, frigid individual with a low level of morals. This coincides with the character Antarctica, and the physical ideals of the real continent’s climate and hemispheric placement. Furthermore, Antarctica’s expression and connection to Roy’s character and communities is supported within the dialogue. In response to hearing the description of destruction and loss of life on the radio, Antarctica responds by saying, “Let them. Uncountable multitudes. Horrible. It is by their own hands. I I I will rejoice to see it ” (Kushner 261). Explicitly Antarctica’s responses implicitly parallels Roy’s callous nature, perhaps as a specific reference to Roy’s outlook on the AIDS community in which he is a part of but denies. This response is significant because it preserves the audiences prior knowledge of Roy and what he stands even contextually as Antarctica. As a result, the use of dual role to interrelate Roy’s denial and lack of morality is able to interconnect and expose Roy’s stance in relation to AIDS even as the unrelated character of Antarctica.
The dual role of “The Angel of Oceania” and Belize is another example of Kushner’s ability to sustain interconnectedness between characters...

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