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 building democratic socialism. The new Internationalism. Gorbachev is the greatest political thinker since Lenin.

BELIZE: I don't think we know enough yet to start canonizing him. The Russians hate his guts.

LOUIS: Yeah but. Remember back four years ago? The whole time we were feeling everything everywhere was stuck, while in Russia! Look! Perestroika! The Thaw! It's the end of the Cold War! The whole world is changing! Overnight!

HANNAH: I wonder what'll happen now in places like Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

LOUIS: Yugoslavia?

PRIOR (To audience): Let's just turn the volume down on this, OK?
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 Gorbachev, in the 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...

HANNAH: Interconnectedness...


BELIZE: Maybe the sheer size of the terrain.

LOUIS: It's all too much to be encompassed by a single theory now.

BELIZE: The world is faster than the mind.

LOUIS: That's what politics is. The world moving ahead. And only in politics does the miraculous occur.

BELIZE: But that's a theory.

HANNAH: You need an idea of the world to go out into the world. But it's 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 story.

LOUIS: Oh. Um, well, she was this angel, she landed in the Temple square 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 fountain, before its flowing stopped.

BELIZE: If anyone who was suffering, in the body or the spirit, walked 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. Hannah here told it to me. She also told me this:

HANNAH: When the Millennium comes...

PRIOR: Not the year two thousand, but the Capital M Millennium...


© Copyright Tony Kushner, 1994. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system now or hereafter invented, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that this material, being fully protected under the Copyright Laws of the United States of America, and all other countries of the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions, is subject to a royalty. All rights including, but not limited to, professional, amateur, recording, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and the rights of translation into foreign languages are expressly reserved.