Epilogue: Bethesda, February 1990
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes
Part Two: Perestroika
by Tony Kushner
Theater Communications Group
Prior, Louis, Belize and Hannah sitting on the rim of the Bethesda
Fountain in Central Park. It's a bright day, but cold. Prior is heavily
bundled, and he has thick glasses on and supports himself with a cane.
Hannah is noticeably different-she looks like a New Yorker, and she is
reading the New York Times. Louis and Belize are arguing. The Bethesda
Angel is above them all.
LOUIS: The Berlin Wall has fallen. The Ceausescus are out. He's
democratic socialism. The new Internationalism. Gorbachev is the greatest
political thinker since Lenin.
BELIZE: I don't think we know enough yet to start
Russians hate his guts.
LOUIS: Yeah but. Remember back four years ago? The whole
feeling everything everywhere was stuck, while in Russia! Look!
Perestroika! The Thaw! It's the end of the Cold War! The whole world is
HANNAH: I wonder what'll happen now in places like
PRIOR (To audience): Let's just turn the volume down on this,
They'll be at it for hours. It's not that what they're
saying isn't important, it's just ...
This is my favorite place in New York City. No, in the
whole universe. The parts of it I have seen.
On a day like today. A sunny winter's day, warm and cold
at once. The sky's a little hazy, so the sunlight has a physical presence,
a character. In autumn, those trees across the lake are yellow, and the
sun strikes those most brilliantly. Against the blue of the sky, that sad
fall blue, those trees are more light than vegetation. They are Yankee
trees, New England transplants. They're barren now. It's January 1990.
I've been living with AIDS for five years. That's six whole months longer
than I lived with Louis.
LOUIS: Whatever comes, what you have to admire in
Russians is that they're making a leap into the unknown. You can't wait
around for a theory. The sprawl of life, the weird...
BELIZE: Maybe the sheer size of the terrain.
LOUIS: It's all too much to be encompassed by a single
BELIZE: The world is faster than the mind.
LOUIS: That's what politics is. The world moving ahead.
politics does the miraculous occur.
BELIZE: But that's a theory.
HANNAH: You need an idea of the world to go out into the
the going into that makes the idea. You can't wait for a theory, but you
have to have a theory.
LOUIS: As my grandma said, go know.
PRIOR: This angel. She's my favorite angel.
I like them best when they're statuary. They commemorate
death but they suggest a world without dying. They are made of the
heaviest things on earth, stone and iron, they weigh tons but they're
winged, they are engines and instruments of flight.
This is the angel Bethesda. Louis will tell you her
LOUIS: Oh. Um, well, she was this angel, she landed in
in Jerusalem, in the days of the Second Temple, right in the middle of a
working day she descended and just her foot touched the earth. And where
it did, a fountain shot up from the ground.
When the Romans destroyed the Temple, the fountain of
Bethesda ran dry.
PRIOR: And Belize will tell you about the nature of the
its flowing stopped.
BELIZE: If anyone who was suffering, in the body or the
through the waters of the fountain of Bethesda, they would be healed,
washed clean of pain.
PRIOR: They know this because I've told them, many times.
told it to me. She also told me this:
HANNAH: When the Millennium comes...
PRIOR: Not the year two thousand, but the Capital M