On Wednesday, April 4, English teacher Elizabeth Roach and history teacher Emily Pressman took their interdisciplinary Advanced Studies Humanities class for seniors, "History, Literature, and the Contested Past," to New York City to see Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize winning play, Angels in America. During February, while working on their senior exhibition papers, students in Humanities read the play aloud together—actually cast in specific roles for the ongoing reading—beginning the process of analyzing and discussing it. The trip to New York on Wednesday allowed students to consider the director's and actors' choices, and compare them to their own interpretative choices while acting it out in class. "Seeing the live performance made many scenes even more thrilling, complex, and dynamic," Ryann Schutt '18 said. Having seen classmates develop their characters over the course of their initial class reading, students had strong feelings about the strengths—and sometimes weaknesses—of the performances they saw on stage compared to those in class. Will Gray '18 thought that Emma Tapscott '18, reading in the role of Hannah, did a better job with one of the character's key moments than the actor on stage had. In the days since the performance, the students have been writing about and discussing the performance, as they undertake their in-depth study of the play.Spanning over two parts—Millennium Approaches and Perestroika—Angels in America runs for seven and a half hours, but the unanimous opinion was that the time flew by. Haden Cunningham '18 described the experience this way: "To be in a space where creation is happening on stage and there is a living, breathing piece of art which metamorphoses again and again before you—the magic of live theatre!" The two shows were interspersed with discussion over a group dinner at 5 Napkin Burger. After the performance, students met some of the actors, including Andrew Garfield, who plays the central figure of Prior Walter in this production. The whole experience proved to be truly memorable for the Humanities students—including the 2:30 a.m. return to campus after the show!
VI Form Humanities Class Revels in NYC Performance of Angels in America
Nam Nguyen ’18