Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika
by Tony Kushner
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika Visions of America: The Reagan Era Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)
Prior: Maybe I am a prophet. Not just me, all of us who are dying now. Maybe we've caught the virus of prophecy. Be still. Toil no more. Maybe the world has driven God from Heaven, incurred the angels' wrath. (2.2.123)
Here Prior seems to imply that AIDS might be Heaven-sent in some way, that perhaps the angels sent the plague as a message to humanity that it's time to stop progressing. The idea that AIDS was a sign of God's wrath was definitely floating around during the Reagan era. Televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson claimed that AIDS was God's way of punishing homosexuals. Though Prior theorizes that Heaven sent the AIDS epidemic for totally different reasons, they're all suggesting that the disease is some kind of divine message.
Roy: Americans have no use for sick. Look at Reagan: He's so healthy he's hardly human, he's a hundred if he's a day, he takes a slug in his chest and two days later he's out west riding ponies in his PJ's. (3.2.61)
Roy is referencing the assassination attempt made against President Reagan in 1981, during the first few months of Reagan's presidency. As you might imagine, this was a major event. Want to see a video of the assassination attempt? Click here.
Joe: Oh if people like you didn't have President Reagan to demonize where would you be?
Louis: If he didn't have people like me to demonize where would he be? Upper-right-hand square of The Hollywood Squares. (3.4.31)
Here Louis makes a joke about the fact that Reagan was a Hollywood actor (and not a particularly good one) before he got into politics. Louis suggests that Reagan got elected by painting left-wing people like him as evil while making himself look like the embodiment of all that's good. On the other side of the fence, Joe suggests that the left gains strength and solidarity by portraying Reagan as a monster. This is just the kind of political debate that would have been going on all over the country during the Reagan era.