The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America

Theater director Isaac Butler and writer/editor Dan Kois have created a compelling, surprising and inspiring oral history of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Angels in America. They weave together the recollections of more than 240 actors, playwrights, critics, theater insiders and Kushner himself. The World Only Spins Forward is an amazingly ambitious book that traces the origin of Kushner's epic-sized two-part play ("Millennium Approaches" and "Perestroika"). It also does an outstanding job of reminding readers of the repressive political climate in the United States concerning gay rights and AIDS activism during the play's gestation, rewrites and many productions over the past three decades.

The play has a fascinating, byzantine history, beginning with various workshops between 1988 and 1992. A month before "Millennium Approaches" opened on Broadway in April 1993, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Several months into the production, while the cast was performing the 3.5-hour play eight times a week, they began rehearsing the four-hour second part of the play, "Perestroika." That November, the cast began performing both plays on alternative nights (or consecutively on matinee days). Cast and crew members illuminate the plays through their Broadway runs, an opera adaptation, a 2003 HBO miniseries starring Meryl Streep and the 2018 Broadway revival starring Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield.

New York Times theater critic Frank Rich said, "It has everything you want in a play." The World Only Spins Forward has everything you want in an oral history of Angels in America: historical context, funny and thoughtful memories from hundreds of eyewitnesses and a celebration of an enduring, powerful theater piece. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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