About 30 people auditioned for Lane Community College’s spring production of the award winning play, “Angels in America,” but there are only eight parts. The play, written by playwright Tony Kushner, is about the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
“Angels in America” received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1994.
Eugene actors, Lane students and University of Oregon students are hoping to fill the roles.
Second-year LCC student Robert Knodel is hoping to be cast the role of Louis, a homosexual unable to cope with his lover’s advancing AIDS. “I relate with Louis more and understand his hardships,” said Knodel. While he isn’t currently taking an acting class, Knodel has previously been in a production of “Oliver Twist.”
“I like to take on characters as far away from me as possible” said first-year LCC student Jon Sims. He would like to portray Joe Pitt, a repressed gay Mormon who is also a Republican. Sims, currently taking Acting II, stated that the role of Joe was very different from who he is.
Writer, storyteller and actor, Jenny Kiffmeyer who moved to Oregon from Indiana in August, is neither a Lane student nor a University of Oregon student. However, when she heard that Lane is producing “Angels In America” she said she had to audition. “I love the play,” said Kiffmeyer.
Director Brian Haimbach, the lead theatre staff at LCC, says he has always wanted to direct “Angels in America.” The play consists of two parts: The first half, “Millennium Approaches,” will be a normal production. The last half, “Perestroika,” will be an enhanced stage reading.
Haimbach does not intend to back down from the play’s controversial scenes such as a simulated sex scene between two men, and a brief nudity scene.
“Being offended is a reaction,” said Haimbach.
The play has been the subject of scrutiny by many conservative groups. Haimbach recalled his youth in South Carolina where just a few hours north in Charlotte, N.C., the play was being protested.
Haimbach said that he is not going to try to live up to the plays critical acclaim, but instead plans to let the work speak for itself. “All we have to do is not get in its way.” said Haimbach.
He feels the play’s social commentary is still relevant in today’s society. “The play is important as historical piece to remind us what it was like to be gay during the Reagan years and it’s important to not let things get that bad again,” said Haimbach.
He stated that while the Gay Rights Movement has come a long way in the U.S. in other countries, such as Russia, gays are still oppressed.