What began as an oral history of Tony Kushner's epic Broadway drama Angels in America will be published in book form by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it was announced today.
Authors Isaac Butler and Dan Kois will expand their history, The World Only Spins Forward, which was originally published online at Slate.com in June. Benjamin Hyman will be the editor, with a target publication date sometime in 2018, the 25th anniversary of the original Broadway production of the first part of Angels in America, titled Millennium Approaches. Part One won both the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. Part Two, Perestroika, won the Tony for Best Play the following year, the only play ever win consecutive Tony Awards.
The play explores battles on earth and in heaven.
Butler told Playbill.com, ”The original draft of the Slate cover story that Dan and I put together was about three times the length of what people have read. Just to give a few examples, we'll be delving into Ivo Van Hove's radical reimagining of the show, exploring the Signature [Theatre] production, greatly expanding the section on the two UK productions, covering the National revival next year, and exploring two particularly controversial productions (one in North Carolina, one in Washington, D.C.) that got swept up in the culture wars of the 1990s.
Beyond all of this, we're very excited to broaden the scope of the piece a bit and to use Angels in America as a lens for exploring its time and its political and cultural context. I teach Angels, and, while my students love it, they don't always really understand what it meant to be a leftist under Reagan, or what AIDS meant pre-AZT. We're really looking forward to bringing that context to life through the vibrant voices of the people who lived through it.“
Butler said the oral history was the idea of his partner, Slate culture editor Dan Kois. “He'd always wanted to write about Angels, and, when the anniversary of the Eureka production loomed on the horizon, he realized he had a news hook that he could use for the article,” Butler said. “He brought me on board very early on (right before he did the first interview) when he realized what a mammoth undertaking the project would be. Little did he know that Angels in America is absolutely essential to my own life story and my own vision of what theater could be. It totally changed my life. Since then it's been a really really rich collaboration between us both.”
Butler, who works mainly work as a director, staged his own Real Enemies for the 2015 Next Wave Festival, written in collaboration with composer Darcy James Argue and the video designer Peter Nigrini. He's currently directing Mike Daisey's monologue The Trump Card, being presented at Woolly Mammoth in Washington, D.C., and at Joe's Pub in New York this summer.