Performing the Role of Belize in the Play Angels in America: Perestroika by Tony Kushner


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Performing the Role of Belize in the Play Angels in America: Perestroika by Tony Kushner
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Oramas, Joel
College of Fine Arts; University of Florida
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This paper will document my process in creating the role of Belize from Angels in America: Perestroika by Tony Kushner. This production was directed by Tim Altmeyer and took place in the Constans Theater at the University of Florida. The performance dates were March 28 though April 6, 2014. The document is separated into three portions. The first portion discusses the research behind the play. This includes the period in which the play takes place, a portion of the history on the character’s occupation, and the analysis of the text. The next portion documents the successes and challenges of the rehearsal process. This includes my training in contemporary acting, character movement, and personalization through knowledge of the occupation. The last portion documents my use of the Michael Chekhov technique throughout the performance process.
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Theatre terminal project

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2 Joel Oramas


3 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge Tim Altmeyer for his wonderful direction, and for giving me the opportunity to pl ay a role that has forced me to rise to the challenge and become a better actor I would like to acknowledge Judith Williams for her encouragement. I would like to acknowledge Kathy Sarra for her guidance in creating a wonderful character body through the use of the Alexander Technique. I acknowledge Ralf Remshardt for pushing me to become a better and more confident student, and Kevin Marshall for his teaching of the Michael Chekhov Technique which I have successfully applied to this role. I acknowledge my cast of Angels in America: Perestroika for their continual growth and encouragement throughout this process. Most importantly, I acknowledge every single friend, family member, and God who have been my present help through these past three years.


4 TABLE O F CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGEMENT S ................................ ................................ .............................. 3 ABSTRAC T ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 6 1 INTRODUCTIO N ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 7 2 TEXT ANALYSIS T he Playwright ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 T he Play ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 10 The Period ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 12 T he Nursing Shortage ................................ ................................ ...................... 13 Finding Belize s Purpose ................................ ................................ ....................... 1 6 C haracter Research ................................ ................................ ................................ 1 9 3 THE REHEARSAL F indin g the Significance of the Action ................................ ................................ ... 23 I nfluences of Drag Queens ................................ ................................ ..................... 2 4 Character Movement ................................ ................................ ............................. 28 Problems of Personal Invest in the Occupation ................................ ...................... 33 4 PERFORMANCE M ichael Chekhov s Psychological Gesture and Atmosphere ................................ .. 3 5 S elf Evaluation ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 36 5 C ONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 3 8 APPENDI X Production Photos ................................ ................................ ................................ 3 9


5 REFERENCE LIS T W orks Cited ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 4 5 BIOGRAPH Y ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 4 6


6 Abstract of Projec t in Lieu of Thesis Presented to The College of Fine Arts of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts PERFORMING THE ROLE OF BELIZE IN THE PLAY ANGELS IN AMERICA: PERESTROIKA BY TONY KUSHNER By Joel Oramas Chair: Ralf Remshardt Major: Theatre This paper will document m y process in creating the role of Belize from Ang els in America: Perestroika by Tony Kushner This production was directed by Tim Altmeyer and took place in the Constans Theater at the University of Florida. The performance dates were March 28 though April 6 2014. The document is separated into three p ortions. The first portion discusses the research behind the play. This includes the period in which the play takes place, a portion of the history on the character s occupation, and the analysis of the text. The next portion documents the successes and ch allenges of the rehearsal process. This includes my training in contemporary acting, character movement, and personalization through knowledge of the occupation. The last portion documents my use of the Michael Chekhov technique throughout the performance process.


7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION I m not finished was what I was constantly reminding myself throughout the Spring of 2013. I came into that semester as an actor who was interesting to watch on stage but who also had bad habits of being presentational, unspecific, and with an urge to entertain an audienc e. Through taking Tim Altmeyer s acting class, I was finally understanding the meaning of listening, actively pursuing an objective and remaining invested in a scene without the need to be a crowd pleaser. When the time came for the MFA students to submit their top choices for potential thesis roles, I made sure to list Angels in America: Perestroika because I knew that I needed to deepen my understanding of Tim s teaching. I was pleased to find out that I was cast but I was also a bit daunted by the role that I was given as Belize. Belize is a sassy, grounded, and wise voice of reason; these qualities are quite the opposite of myself as a person. Even some of my classmates were predicting a possibility that I would get cast as Prior because my personality simply did not fit Belize. I was not a person who liked to take control or give orders, but I knew that this was the challenge that I needed to take on to feel complete in this program. This was an opportunity to step out of the quirky, submissive characte r that I was accustomed to playing, and step into a role that demand ed of me to be firm, confident, and assertive.


8 CHAPTER 2 TEXTUAL ANALYSIS The Playwright Although he was born in New York in 1956, Tony Kushner was raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He grew up in a household where literature and art was encouraged. His parents were both musicians, but it was his mother s work as an actress that influenced Kushner to pursue a career in theatre. He received a BA in Medieval Studies and an MFA in Directing from the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Although Kushner dreamed of becoming a writer, his fear of failure drove him to pursue directing. In a interview, he t alks about his father s very high standard of what being a good writer was and his worry that he wouldn t live up to it. He comments, Writing is scary, and I didn t want to be a writer if I couldn t make a living as a writer and that seemed very unlikely. So directing, (stupidly) I thought directing was easier (Barclay 2009). He first decided to be a playwright during a reading of A Midsummer Night s Dream at Columbia University. When my professor at Columbia read for us the Theseus/ Hippolyta debate at the top of act 4 of Midsummer . it s the closest thing that I ve ever come to magic. And also a sense of collectivity and a sense of energy that s not bound by physical bodies . . It isn t just an older theater clich, the events that t ake place on any given night is something that a bunch of people who are not speaking to one another and don t know each other make almost before the first line gets spoken . . I feel in a certain sense that theater is the closes t I come to a religion. (Vorlicky 38)


9 Kushner s successful works include A Bright Room Called Day Slavs! Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, and the musica l Caroline or Change Kushner s appeal revolves around his strong stance on political and social issues. Whether his plays discuss issue s around his contempt for poverty inequality, or gay rights his work contains an outspoken desire for change. He has a strong personal investment that he believes all artist should have in presenting certain works. In an interview with Carl Weber, he discusses his issue with artists perform ing works from one of his greatest influences, Bertolt Brecht without believing in what they are performing. He states, You can t understand The Good Person of Sezuan without understanding the historical process that the play is describing, in terms of the beginning of modernization in a country that is premodern but becoming modern in a very ugly and rapid fashion . You can t do Sezuan you can t do Mother Courage unless you care about money and where the money goes. American actors don t care about those things, and the American directors don t . economy seems unworthy as a subject. (Vorlicky 115) An example of his desire to ch allenge an audience was his production of Brecht s The Good Person of Sezuan at La Jolla Playhouse California. He was pleased to see an audience uncomfortable with the topics of poverty and the criti cism of those who refuse to help the poor. He doesn t want the theater to hold up a mirror so audiences can simply see their reflection, he want s them to see the issue and make a change, which is something that Kushner emphasizes when asked about Brecht s influence. He states, through everything in Brecht there is an absolutely serious desire to see the world change now . The urgency of that Now is


10 something that I go back to Brecht for (Vorlicky 123). In Angels in America, his stance on the marginalized issues are clear in his expositions about the government under Reagan and the AIDS epidemic. Kushner s vo ice on these topics ha s a direct co mmonality with current social issues, which brings a wide variety of audiences who an ticipate what he will say next. Through research, I found that Kushner s sexual background may have influenced his writing of Angels in America When asked by journalist Patrick Patecho about his sexuality, Kushner admit ted to having many sexual partners. While he doesn t like the word promiscuity he liked the idea of meeting a new person and being able to share an intimate experience. He even received advice from his doctor to slow down. When sharing his sexual past, he suggested that Kushner should think of preserving himself, but more in the sense of not devaluing his body as opposed to health concerns. Kushner contends, while I d love to preserve it, I d also not like to spend the rest of my life doing nothing (Vorli cky 53). He further admits to having sex with people he has known to have HIV. A part of me sees this as recklessness, especially considering the AIDS outbreak ; however, another part of me sees this as his reasoning for Prior s continuance of life as oppos ed to a tragic deathbed scene. While Kushner is practicing safe sex, he doesn t view this disease as the end. He thinks we should continue to participate in the beautiful things in life that truly make you happy. People with AIDS have been able to live for many years and live fruitful lives and Kushner is encouraging them to keep living and doing what fulfills them. The Play Kushner initially sought out a federal grant from the Princess Grace Foundation in order to work on Angels in America He wrote a lett er to the National Endow ment for the Arts stating


11 that he was seeking a grant to work on a play that was going to be written about homosexuality, Mormons, and Roy Cohn. Considering that these were controversial topics and Reagan was still in office, Kushner didn t believe that he would receive the funding To his surprise, he received an abundant grant to work on this project. Because he received this check of taxpayer s money, he felt a responsibility to write a play with a broader scope that could be embraced by individuals from different cultures. Kushn er could have taken this opportunity to make Roy Cohn into a villainous figure in the play, but because of what Adam Mars Jones calls gay obligation (Vorlicky 20), he felt the need to portray Roy Cohn as part of the gay community. Although he didn t want to Roy Cohn to be too sympathetic a character, Kushner would represent Roy Cohn in the embrace of the community that he so rejected. After he was informed that Millennium Approaches had received nine Tony Award nominations, Kushner sat down with cultural commentator Charlie Rose. He gave some interesting insight into the process of writing Angels in America When asked about a single point for an audience to take from it, he replied It doesn t really give you a single point to take home . . I think that after three and a half hours listening to gay people various kind of gay people and thinking about ways in which gay issues are not marginal, but central to the American and po litical agenda, I hope that people will come away with a sense of comfort, a sense of curiosity . a sense of having been exposed to something they thought they knew, but didn t know as well as they thought they knew, or hadn t known at all (Vorlicky 47) Angels in America was scheduled to open on November 1, 1992, two days before the Presidential election on November 3. Although the play was postponed until November 8,


12 preview audiences of actors, playwrights, and friends of the theater community wer e all in attendance. This community was on the edge of their seats in anticipation of who would finally take charge in fighting the AIDS epidemic. By the day before the original opening of Angels in America in 1992 245,621 cases of AIDS had already been r eported in the USA (Geis and Kruger 52). Former Presidents Ronald Regan and George Bush failed to make AIDS their top priority, and the gay community would look to Bill Clinton to ensure a thorough investigation and funding for cures of the disease that c laimed thousands. According to a 1992 article in The Inquirer Clinton s promise to fight this disease became even more convincing when he appointed an AIDS czar . to fully fund the Ryan White CARE Act, which would provide more than $800 million to more than two dozen cities, including Philadelphia, which have been hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic (Williams). Those watching Angels in America were in hopes that this would be the beginning of a new era. Millennium Approaches address ed the uncertainty and fear that the community had faced since the news of the outbreak. Perestroika with the death and forgiveness of Roy Cohn and the power of life restored to Prior, sign if ied the beginning of political power and the hope that the g ay and l esbian community could attain in a new life. The Period Although homosexuality is slowly becoming more accepted today, with 17 states currently allowing gay marriage, the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s became a monumental road block to the acceptance of homosexuals into the American community. Even though homosexuality was finally removed from the World Health Organization s list of mental illnesses in 1981, the US government under Reagan st ill did not consider this disease a real threat, and many in the US were in a panic with the news of the AIDS outbreak. New cases were


13 rising at an alarming rate. Scientists and health experts were making progress as the term GRID (Gay Related Immune Disea se) was changed to AIDS, however, President Ronald Reagan didn t deem it as a priority. According to the New York Times Ronald Reagan reduced spending on AIDS research. When asked by a reporter about his efforts, he replied that the government was doing its best with the budgetary constraints (Boffey). He was brought under heavy criticism for this as one anonymous inter viewer was bold enough to remind him of the stark contrast of Richard Nixon s position on cancer and pointed out that Richard Nixon took on a total national commitment to conquering this dread disease (Boffey). Reagan s priority was the reduction of the budget over AIDS research. Even the finest health expert couldn t convince him to reconsider his position. In an interview with the New York Times in 1985, Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute, who was known as the country s best AIDS scientis t was quoted as saying that it was time for ''a minor moon shot program to attack this AIDS epidemic that has struck fear into the nation's health workers and even in school children (Boffey). Even though the government provided $126 million dollars in r esearch, scientists still argued that it wasn t enough. While Reagan opposed the increase in funding, there was opposition to his stance brewing in the House appropriations committee. Despite Reagan s stance on the budget, the House voted to boost the Adm inistration's proposed budget for AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health next year [1986] by $70 million, which would double the amount of research proposed at that agency by the Administration (Boffey). The Nursing Shortage After an elaborate explanation from Belize about the dangers of radiation treatment, Roy responds : You re just a fucking nurse, why should I listen to you over my very expensive, very qualified, WASP doctor? (Kushner 26). Beyond Belize s skin color, Roy shows contempt fo r


14 taking advice from a nurse. In my research on nursing, I found that the 1980s was one of the profession s lowest points in history. Although nursing is a respected and abundant profession in the current decade, with employers willing to pay nurses salari es in a range from $40,000 to $80,000, it experienced several shortages in the 1980s. Employers held on to their purse strings tightly and weren t willing to increase wages for nurses. This was especially hard on nurses as hospitals were not only understaf fed, but employees were working beyond their job descriptions, performing duties that belonged to doctors. Because of the harsh demands that were placed on them, many dropped out to seek other career opportunities. Government action was taken, but with cau tion. According to Schoenman and Newschaffer, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) led a study to determine if the nursing shortage was inevitable. Surprisingly, even with the professionals of the nursing field clearly seeing the ne ed for nurses, the IOM found that the number of nurses was indeed sufficient and government assistance wasn t necessary (99). This also resulted in the government pulling back their financial support for nursing education. What also contributed to this sho rtage was the public image of nursing. Even though nurses and nurse practitioners were actively recruiting potential nursing professionals at job fairs and high schools, their attempts were overshadowed by their negative public perception. In a 1988 articl e in the Chicago Tribune Dr. Marian Craighill was quoted as stating, Does it really require four years of college to change bed sheets and replace bedpans? (Warady). A lack of respect was even evident in the professionals who worked alongside the nurses The refusal to hire nurses led to an increase of volunteers and creation of Registered Care Technologists. RCTs didn t have the competency in skilled care to handle nursing duties. They were unqualified and lacked the education to operate on the level o f registered nurses.


15 Along with hiring unqualified workers, hospitals also refused to hire nursing assistants who would be responsible for providing some of the hands on care. All of this information is helpful in understanding Belize s position. To an ac tor, this informs the psychology of Belize. Because the play never mentions nursing assistants and Belize is the only one who provides care for Roy throughout the play, it can be assumed that he is working for Roy alone. He is not only mentally weary of th e task of caring for Roy Cohn, but his body his enduring the lack of assistance as well. Although nursing homes and long term care facilities were more prone to hiring nursing assistants the hospitals were still under tight budget restrictions in t he 1980s In a hospital, along with the typical nursing duties of keeping records on patient care, teaching patients how to self medicate, and providing emotional and educational support for patients, they also had to provide the hands on work of hygiene changing bed sheets, feeding, range of motion exercises, and all the activities of daily living for which nurse s aides would typically be responsible (Education Because of the unrelenting demands of the field, nursing positions were vacant (2 500 in Chicago alone). I relate to the struggle that nurses endured through my own experience as a nurse s aide. For me a s a nurse s aide, the hands on work was an endless job when I was taking care of eight patients at a time. There were times when I co uld not handle the rigor of an eight hour shift and I could not imagine having to do nursing duties as well. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, I can personally relate to Belize s profession. In the 1980s, nurses in hospitals were in charge of full patien t care and interaction because hospitals were hesitant to hire nurse s aides for financial reason. Now that a CNA is common position in


16 hospitals, they perform duties such as taking vital signs, changing a bandage, and assisting ambulation. Although these are tasks that I am familiar with performing, my relation to the patient care is only a part of my connection to this field. As a nurse s aide working in a nursing home, I ve come across some patients who grew up in a time of resentment and fear of people of color. I ve been told to go back my country, have been called a nigger, have had my opinion discredited, and have been hit with fecal matter. A part of me forgave the patients because they were elderly and had dementia and didn t know any better; howev er, another part of me couldn t help but think how much of this mindset was internalized previously. On the one hand, I was relieved that this oppressive mindset is slowly making its way out of this world, yet at the same time, my compassion for them overr ode any of their racially insensitive views. While I ve had a myriad of vulgarities thrown at me, my compassion as a nurse s aide remind ed me that the patients were sick and in need. I remember tears rolling down my cheeks because of the mere fact that som e of these people couldn t feed themselves. Roy Cohn calls Belize a nigger, but Belize s hatred for him gives away to his compassion for another brother who has fallen to the deadly disease that has killed so many like himself. Finding Belize s Purpose To fully understand the social interactions and the exchanges that Belize participates in, I needed to examine the language that is spoken throughout the play. Art Borreca refers to the code spoken between Prior and Belize as Tony Kushner s use of gay camp (Geis and Kruger 51) The use of camp informs how certain characters can be played by using their stereotypes. Belize s statements such as listen to your girlfriend (Kushner 44) maybe a queen can forgive her vanquished foe (Kushner 122) and a get well gift from a bad fairy (Kushner 138) are woven into the social interactions. These statements are examples of the overt stereotypes of the


17 effeminate gay man that are attributed to Belize, as well as to Prior. The effeminate characters also demonstrat e a theatricality in their personalities. In one interaction, Prior and Belize playfully imitate Kath a rine Hepburn. But this consistent use of theatricality and camp is not simply a guide to the characters nor is it there for the sole purpose of enterta inment. Camp is used to deal with the pain that is very real in this play. Borreca cites a scene in Millennium Approaches where Prior is venting his anger about Louis and, before Belize leaves the room, asks: Why d they have to pick on you? (Borreca 252) Belize and Prior are fully aware of his dire condition, however, as Belize exits he says and eat more girlfriend, you really do look like shit (Borreca 252). The dramatic moment is immediately followed by camp and humor. The reverse also happens in th e interaction at the funeral. When Prior complains about the funeral processions and how overly theatrical it was, Belize insults Prior by remarking, you look like Morticia Adams (Kushner 34), referring to his outfit and his eyes. But as soon as Prior co mplains that his eyes are bothering him because of his condition, Belize immediately switches into the mode of caretaker and examines him. Kushner succeeds in balanc ing camp and the seriousness of the pain. The theatricality and the camp also function in o ffering hope in the play. As opposed to dramatic goodbyes and tears, the characters continue in the camp and theatrical mode that has helped form their life long relationship. As long as the camp remains, they are expressing that life is still not over. Wh ile they still have breath, they will continue to move forward. Roy Cohn is obviously an evil figure from Belize s perspective. In Belize s eyes, Roy s dual role as the powerful lawyer who fights against gay rights yet is a cowardly closeted homosexual is despicable. However, Belize must serve as Roy s caretaker. In Kushner In Conversation the author explains Belize s reasoning for taking on the job with Roy Cohn.


18 Kushner comments, he takes on the job with Roy because Roy has gotten his hands on an entire stash of AZT, which at this point was being tested in Bethesda . . It s just being tested at the time of the play, and Belize decides that he s going to steal it (Vorlicky 23). Although this is hard to argue when the explanation comes directly from the playwright, I would contest that this oversimplifies his reasoning for staying with Roy. From the evidence in the text, I disagree with Kushner s reasoning. In their first scene together Belize is greeted by a hostile Roy who is demanding a white nurs e. Roy then switches gears and tries to relate to Belize. After engaging in banter about the mutual historical past of Blacks and Jews Roy invites Belize to sit and talk. Belize replies, Mr Cohn. I d rather suck the puss out of an abscess. I d rather dr ink a subway toilet. I d rather chew off my tongue and spit it in your leathery face. Thank you for the offer of conversation, but I d rather not (Kushner 24). As Belize walks away, Roy Cohn screams, I don t want to be alone (Kushner 24) and this cau ses Belize to stop and stay in the room. Belize s cold demeanor and ridicule of Roy is outweighed by his humanity and perspective on reality. Belize knows that while Roy Cohn is an evil figure, he is a part of the homosexual community. He is soon going to be part of the statistic of a community that is losing members by the thousands. T his compassion comes before he finds out about the AZT medication. The AZT medication eventually becomes a primary goal for Belize ; however, this does not diminish the fact that Belize s humanity and his capacity to forgive compels him to stay with Roy. When considering Belize s function in Angels in America it is hard to determine exactly where the character belongs. Although he holds a friendship with Prior and a tolerance for Louis, he is on the outside looking in on all of the developing relationships. Joe, Roy, Louis, Harper, and Prior are all somewhat connected in an emotional and/or sexual relationship that commenced in Millennium Approaches The only character whom he was involved with romantically was


19 Prior, but through the admission to Louis that he has a lover in Harlem, we learn that he clearly doesn t want to rekindle that relationship. In the essay When Girls Collide: Considering Race in Angels in America, Framji Minwalla even states that he may not be necessary to the plot. Since his past is not clearly defined, friends call him by his drag name, Belize, as instead of his legal name, Norman Arriaga. Because of his arsenal of clever insults, one can argue that he is in the story solely for the purpose of comic relief. But Minwalla also suggests that Belize is a connector. Belize connects. Roy and Prior, Prior and Louis, Louis and Roy, Prior and Joe, all either use him as an intermediary or are brought together . .[H] e plays foil to Louis political angst, confidant to Prior s emotional breakdown (Minwalla 104). Without this mediator, the voice of reason to move forward is lost. Prior needs Belize to steal the AZT in order to continue living, Joe needs Belize t o save him from the possibility of touching Roy s blood that is infected with AIDS, and Belize encourages movements forward and is a bearer of the play s most important theme: forgiveness. Character Research Belize is a drag queen who uses gay camp in his interactions. This led me to believe that he was effeminate, theatrical, and had a personality that was quite different my own. In order to understand his personality, my friends suggested forms of character research such as going to drag shows, visiting gay clubs, and wearing drag costumes in public. All of these suggestions were helpful in my research, but the most valuable was my director s suggestion to watch the documentary Paris is Burning In Paris is Burning viewers are introduced to the underground world of costume balls and drag queen life in the 1980s in New York City. Because this play is


20 set in New York City and Belize is an ex drag queen, this documentary was an obvious choice for character rese arch. The environment of a costume ball depicted in the film is lively and passionate, with black gay men and black drag queens participating in these balls, walking in elaborate costumes, and competing in voguing dance offs. Although they are competing, t here is a large sense of community. They are able to achieve a sense of fame and recognition by a community who respects and encourages their craft. They compare their preparation of the ball to a sporting event. They claim that one would put even more pr eparation into getting ready for a costume ball than an athlete would for a basketball game. For some, this costume ball was their Super Bowl. For others, they lived vicariously through the costumes as they had desires to hold these occupations in real lif e. Dorian Corey, one of the most prominent figures in the drag queen circuit reasons : In real life you can t get a job as an executive unless you have a good educational background and the opportunity. The fact that you are not an executive is merely becau se of the social standing of life. Black people have a hard time getting anywhere, and those that do are usually straight. In a ballroom you can be anything you want. You re not really an executive, but you re looking like one. And therefore, you re showin g the straight world that I can be an executive. If I had the opportunity, I can be one because I can look like one. And that is a fulfillment. (Livingston) Being respected as an African American in America was already difficult, but the difficulty was h eightened by the fact that they were gay during a time when homosexuals were being blamed for the spread of HIV. One participant is quoted stating, my dad said there are


21 three strikes in this world. Every black men has two. You re black and you re a male. But if you re black, male and you re gay, you re going to have a hard fucking time. You re going to have to be stronger than you ever imagined (Livingston). While they are very outspoken, articulate and strong minded individuals, they feel the need to co me together. When some of their biological families had abandoned them, they needed to see each other family. One element of the balls that enhanced the community was the forming of houses A house is an idea from the Paris fashion houses, and in Paris is Burning they resemble street gangs. While street gangs had fights in the streets, houses fought by walking and having a vogue off at the balls. But even with the competitive aspect and the occasional argument over costumes rules, their bonds as gay m en bring them together, no matter which house they belong to. Being ostracized from their families and community, black gay men sought refuge in these houses. Each house ha s a house mother who imparts her knowledge of ball life and life wisdom to the me mbers. Some house mothers include Willie Ninja of the House of Ninja (who later became known for his voguing, appearing in a Madonna video, and also teaching Paris Hilton how to walk a runway), Peppa LaBeija, mother of the house of Labeija, and Dorian Core y. Corey and LaBeija became the focal point of my character research. Because of their wisdom and their grounded energy as leaders in the community, they were both ideal candidates for my research. As Labeija is being interviewed, his outfits compliment t he extravagance of his personality. Even in his own apartment, he sports a white jacket over a baby blue button up shirt, golden bracelets, and a white fur hat (which I was pleased was included in the original costume design). Labeija has the desire to be seen and respected, much like Belize. I am the best mother of them all (Livingston) he is quoted as saying when asked how the other drag queens ranked


22 compared to him. Labeija s speech rhythm was something I studied as well. He took his time in deliver ing responses. He had a very low tone that almost seemed monotone, and using the Lessac method, I could hear his use of operatives in the extension of vowels and consonants as opposed to volume. An example was in his first sentence. I have to say my name? Oh God (Livingston). He extend ed the m in name and the vowel in God. His communication was smooth and confident. I could see him processing the thoughts and giving his answer in his own time. My assumption was that this was because for him, it was story time. The narrator has full control of the room because they contain information and wisdom. Because he knows that the listener is in anticipation of his knowledge and won t leave without it, the narrator will take his time to release this coveted in formation. All of these elements were important in taking the next step into process. Having a general idea about the 1980s would not help inform the psychology in playing Belize. Having the in depth knowledge about the nursing shortage, Reagan s refusa l to increase funding for AIDS re search, and the struggle that drag queens had to endure inform ed how high the stakes are for Belize. He lives in a world that has ostracized him due to his race and sexual orientation. It would be easy for him to try to hide his sexuality but instead he shows his strength in deciding to be himself for all the world to see. Unlike someone like Roy who hides his homosexuality, Belize represents Kushner s movement forward. Belize will risk losing his job by stealing AZT for a friend an at the same time show the value of forgiving an enemy by accepting him into a community that he tried his best to hide from for so long.


23 CHAPTER 3 REHEARSAL PROCESS Finding the Significance of the Action Before I set off to my internship at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, my director, Tim Altmeyer, asked me to meet with him. In the meet ing, he said that wanted me to keep in mind Belize s essential action: to get what he deserves. Belize is a black drag queen in the era when African Americans are struggling to succeed and gay men are being blamed for the spread of AIDS. He reiterated that Belize needed to demand respect in an era that refused to give it to him. Tim has also taught me as a student and he is aware of my personal quirks. He knows me to be apologetic, submissive, and willing to self sacrifice in order to make others content. B elize is certainly not apologetic and he s only willing to put others before himself if he loves them. Belize s best quality is his assertiveness, a quality which does not come naturally to me. I went to my internship with a clear objective in mind: to lea rn how to get what I deserve. I was constantly wrestling with Tim s insistence on the essential action. The essential action is defined as the single element that defines what the character is doing in the scene, without which the scene will not work (Br uder 88). I was still unsure how to execute it because it felt so unspecific. How could I go through an entire scene keeping only one action in mind? It then became clear to me during my internship at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater when the director Jim Helsinger had each intern perform a monologue, using another intern as a partner. I chose actions that were easy to execute, such as attack and educate. Unfortunately, my actions were not affecting my partner and I was unsure why. In my frustration during these classes, I was constantly pondering the reason why I was using these actions to get what I deserve.


24 An epiphany occurred midway through the exercises. Jim Helsinger asked a student to perform her monologue. The student s work was unspecific until Jim asked her to perform the monologue as if she were speaking to her boyfriend. She performed it again and suddenly it became engaging, interesting, and real. The problem wasn t why, the problem was who. Whom did I need to get this from? What I was missi ng was my as if. The as if is defined as a simple fantasy that makes specific for you the action in step 2 (the essential action) of the analysis. It is a mnemonic device serving to bring the action of life to you (Bruder 87 ). What situations could I use from my personal experience where I wasn t getting what I deserved? I look at myself as kind, carefree, and humorous, but these qualities are associated with someone who cannot be taken seriously and cannot be at the forefront of making decisions. I returned back to the exercise in class and every time I came to the action, I reminded myself of the as if. For example, if my action was getting a friend to see the truth, my as if was getting my friend to see that his girlfrie nd was no good for him. My classwork at the theater showed a dramatic shift. Because my as ifs were loaded with imagery of people for whom I truly had feelings of love or contempt, I was finally able to feel what it was like to truly have to push the emo tions underneath. The as ifs I used involved family members and close friends and became very personal. When I tapped into this, I found the truth of the actions and my connection to Belize. Making the essential action specific was part one, but making it personal completed the sense of truth and the nuance. Influences from Drag Queens Now that I understood what it was to have a true personal connection to the work, I needed to work on the character. From reading the text and watching Paris is Burning, I perceived that these people are characters. Drag queens are real people with real feelings,


25 however, they are an animated and exuberant group. I first realized this at my first (of many) drag shows at the Revolution Night Club in Orlando, Florida. A part of me was uneasy about venturing into this club. I was raised in a very religious environment and was constantly reminded to stay away from environments that would challenge and pollute my spirit. But these last few years of grad school have brought me fr iends of many different backgrounds, including friends who are part of the LGBT community. Not only are they genuine people, but these are people for whom I have gained a tremendous amount of respect. I ve been lucky to grow up in a community that is racia lly and culturally diverse. I don t have to try to fit into the community, because I am already part of the community. The LGBT community is on the outside looking in and is still going through the challenge of being accepted today. Those who are brave eno ugh to be themselves everywhere they go have the inner strength to take what they deserve in life. They are what I m aspiring to be not only as a character, but as a human being. In my first encounter at a drag show, the crowd was introduced to a perform er named Lisa Lane, who was well over six feet tall, wearing a one piece outfit with a low cut top, and lip synching to I m Every Woman by Whitney Houston. She commanded the room and played the actions of flirtation and seduction in order to get more m oney from the crowd. One of the words that I wrote down in my notes was eyes. These eyes had a laser like focus (similar to Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned, see below). Her dance moves were choreographed, sharp, and precise. When the applause was done, sh e took the microphone and started to interact with the crowd. I noticed that her humor was lewd and graphic, however, she was unapologetic for it. Whatever she said was right. Whatever joke she made was going to be funny (even if she had to laugh at her ow n joke for it to land). There was also consistency of a flowing quality of movement in her wrist that was similar to Pepper Labeija in Paris is Burning As she was


26 talking, I clandestinely started to practice some of the movements. I could have written dow n all the movements, but the better solution was to put them into action. Noticing the ease of the hands, I practiced holding my phone, shaking someone s hand, and waving to strangers with this ease of the wrist and hands. Because I had observed this movem ent so many times, the execution of the imitation came to me more quickly. As I started to frequent the night clubs to and pick up on the personality, movements, and interactions, I started to pay careful attention to my clothes. Although the frequent visitors to the club had a wide variety of styles that included tight jeans with colorful buttoned up shirts, bright tank tops and basketball shorts, or very revealing short skirts, they walked around owning their appearance. It wasn t about a specific p iece of clothing, it was about wearing clothes that brought out one s inner confidence. I needed to have a clean look but at the same time, I needed to own my appearance. I often wore a button up with a clean pair of jeans, and I always topped it off with a leather jacket, and my sunglasses. While wearing sunglasses hindered my vision in the night club and may have looked ridiculous, it helped me walk into the room and find a character body. My chin was tilted up, my shoulders expanded apart to make my che st more open, and I used the hand gestures that I learned from watching Lisa Lane and Pepper Labeija. I felt like the most important person in the room and made sure to directly engage the drag queens when they were performing so we could exchange energy. I visited the club so often that I felt like a part of the community. I didn t want to feel like an observer or student, I wanted to feel like a member. I decided in the early rehearsal process that I needed a prop or two to always remind me of my charact er, even outside of the rehearsals. The props needed to do two things: to stand out, and to make me feel confident. I chose to wear a bright red scarf and stylish non prescription glasses. I knew that these two things would draw attention, as the bright co lor was something


27 that would capture the eye quickly and the glasses were quite robust compared to the smaller prescription frames that I used to wear. Because bright colors are stereotypically associated with flamboyancy and sexuality, I encountered sever al strangers who made assumptions about me due to the accessories. In one encounter, a woman stated, I would kiss you if you were straight I revealed that I was, in fact, heterosexual and was curious about her assumption. She said that the scarf made her think that I was homosexual. This gave me the idea to wear these accessories everywhere. I wouldn t need to warm up for this character b efore rehearsal. I was going to make Belize a part of me everywhere I went. Just as my three years of Lessac training and Chekhov Technique are now so embedded in me that I utilize them subconsciously, this character would also be used so frequently that all of his personality and movement would become second nature. By doing this, I was hoping to create a real person on stage, not simply be an actor trying to portray a character. While I had a disdain for actors who couldn t get out of character, I was re minded of a project I did in my Creative Process class on Jim Carrey in his preparation for the role of Andy Kaufman. In a video on his website, it shows him as his character going through a scene on the set. As the scene ends, he remains in character. He even has a conversation with a colleague that makes him upset, and he cries and leaves the set. He was Andy Kaufman on set, in his home, and even with his girlfriend. (He admitted that this habit caused a strain in his relationships ) I wanted to be invest ed and have the character be embedded in me. Although I didn t go to the extent of Carrey s commitment to this exercise, I would pick moments through the day to practice the character with complete strangers to make sure that I was investing in him somewhe re throughout the day. While I was always in control of my character, I wanted the audience and my peers to see Belize and not Joel on stage.


28 Character Movement One of the challenges I ve always faced as an actor was my lack of being grounded and moving in an organic way. Fluidity of movement is not natural to my personal stride. It was only last year that my instructors were consistently giving me notes that I had the tendency to shift my feet during scene work. I also had trouble moving to various spots on stage. When the stakes were high, I would rush to my next spot on stage. Rushing to the next spot always looked very stiff and staccato and it didn t come from a natural place. Its lack of organic quality was due to planning and anticipating the movemen t as opposed to living in the moment. Considering that Belize is a former drag queen, I wanted to incorporate a quality of his performer side in my movement. Through watching Paris is Burning and observing some of the frequent visitors with more extravag ant personalities in Orlando s Revolution Night Club, I noticed that some of the gestures had a flowing and almost serpentine quality. My stride needed to match this extravagant movement. In observing the consistency of some of the strides, I also noticed fluidity in the movement of the ir hips and that their pace was very steady, as if they were taking their time to get to their destination. I decided I was going to experiment with a solution that I was always willing yet hesitant to try: ankle weights. Si nce I ve encountered problems remaining grounded as an actor, I initially experimented with using five pound ankle weights. Even though ankle weights are used primarily for muscle toning and cardiovascular workouts, I was curious to see if it would be usef ul for grounding and perhaps force a slower and more calculated stride. The initial attempts produced the desired results. Although I didn t anticipate five pounds to add any noticeable strain, it significantly slowed down my stride. It required me to put much more thought into my movement, with the


29 effort starting at the hip, and slowly picking up one foot at a time. I immediately felt a physical expansion in my upper body and a stronger inner confidence. Not only was I walking with a heavier sense, I tho ught of myself as a heavier and larger person. Since my stride was heavier and longer, I also felt compelled to have a larger gestural life and I filled up the space in which I was moving. This was certainly a change from my normal perception about myself. My tendency as a person is to be smaller in order to accommodate others who want to use the space around me. I was now going forward with the belief that I owned any space I was in. I wore the ankle weights for two weeks after nightly rehearsals. When I w asn t wearing them I didn t feel heavier, but my stride had a gliding quality that was steady and calculated. In the scene when I entered Roy s room, I didn t feel the need to rush to Roy because I needed to assert dominance in the scene. I only felt the n eed to move when the timing was right. However, there were some consequences that came with the weights. According to Live, ankle weights do not strengthen the legs equally. While they strengthen the quadriceps, they do not strengthen the back of the hamstrings (Harriman). This caused joint pain around my kneecap and made walking difficult to do outside of rehearsal. It also produced a significant amount of downward pull that only added to my previous back issues. In addition to the pain, it al so affected my balance. In the middle of walking with this weight and trying to imitate a feminine walk with one foot in front of the other, I would sometimes lose my balance and stumble and stagger into my blocking. The director would also question my pac e as I walked into the scenes. Although I had the mindset of controlling the room and taking my time, I was apparently taking too much time. Although I was confident, I didn t have a sense of purpose as to where I was going. There were a few times in rehe arsal where I had to reenter the room and simply come in faster.


30 What also hindered my pace was my habit of putting my toe down before my heel. This felt more feminine but this did not serve the scene well on stage. In fact, it often read as a more stereo typical walk. Beyond the lack of truth that the walk highlighted, it was also quite difficult to increase speed when putting the toe before the heel and it presented a comic effect that was unnecessary. For example, when Belize rushes out of the room to ge t supplies in order to close Roy Cohn s exposed wound, moving in a comic manner diminished the stakes and the dire mood of the situation. I looked as if I were quickly tip toeing out of the room. This was a habit that was quite difficult to break. As th e habit of this excessively slow pace formed, the expansion of my upper body diminished and I no longer had the inner confidence that came with the weights. I decided to stop using my own devices and turned to Alexander Technique teacher, Kathy Sarra. When she observed my walk, she noticed a forced movement in the hips and a lack of balance. She gave me a solution that immediately improved my balance. She suggested that I turn my feet and hips out as opposed to in. Added to this, she suggested that my heel come in contact with the ground before my toe. This resulted in more organic and fluid movement of the hips and a stronger sense of balance. After being able to find consistency in my stride that exuded qualities of ease and balance, she added on another point of awareness. She asked me to bring my kinesthetic awareness to my spine. She then encouraged a small sway of the lower spine, as opposed to my attempt to force a sway in my hips. This sway of the spine gave my hips fluidity and also some movement of my shoulders. During her she demonstration of this technique in class, one of my classmates stated that this shoulder movement was reminiscent of Aaliyah s role, Akasha in Queen of the Damned We all sat down and watched the video together. We were all a ble to see another clear example of what Kathy was teaching me.


31 At the start of the video, Aaliyah walks into the room with a sultry rhythm to her stride. Her spine moves in a curvy and snake like motion. Accompanying this fluid motion was a very prominent roll of the shoulder as she took each step. The shoulders also seemed wider as she breathed and took in the room. This was the sense that I was trying to think of when I walked in the room as Belize. Belize needed to own the room when he walked in. Althou gh this came through intention and strong point of view, it also came through Belize s theatricality. As a former drag queen, he would be used to spotlight and having people cheer him on at a drag balls, so he had to be able to command the room. Aaliyah s role differs because her observers seem intimidated, but nevertheless, both characters are strong personalities that demand attention. Another interesting observation is that as Aaliyah looks around the room, she inhales, making it seem as she is breathing in the energy of the observers. Each person she takes in seems to increase her confidence and dominance in the room. Even if the energy she is taking in is of a timid onlooker, she stays focused on him or her and does not avert her gaze until she decides that the encounter is over. Coming in with this point of view opened up a sense of hierarchy in her character. I initially had difficulty with this concept of locking in and inhaling the energy of others. My natural tendency in a scene is to be submissive. This is due to my tendency to end gain. End gaining is a term from the Alexander Technique that refers to seeking results without thinking about the necessary steps to acquire them (Gelb 164). Instead of playing my action throughout the whole scene, I look for the poi nt where my character loses the argument. This causes a look of despair and lack of eye contact because my character is defeated, resulting in a lack of truth and a presentational style of acting. I often choose to show an emotion as opposed to following through with the action and letting the emotion happen. But Belize is not a


32 loser, nor is he a victim. He functions as the caretaker and the strong minded voice of reason; turning away in defeat is not among his attributes. I found an opportunity to work on taking in the energy of my partner and following through on my actions in one of my scenes with Prior. As Belize tries to convince Prior that he is not in a demented state caused by AIDS, Prior backs away and states, Maybe I am a prophet . Maybe we ve caught the virus of prophecy . I believe I ve seen the end of things. And having seen I m going blind, as prophets do (Kushner 48). The result of this argument is that Prior is convinced that all of his dreams and vision s are real and perhaps he may be going insane after all. As Belize, I could have turned away in defeat at his admission; however, I decided to go against my natural instinct and breathe in Prior s energy until the very last moment when the lights go out. I n this exchange, I took in his pain and his hurt by not turning away. I chose not to give up on him. If Belize lets go of the moment, he ll have given up on Prior. The last element I took from Aaliyah s performance was the moment where she is being attack ed by the observers. At this point, she knows she has to defend herself. Before she uses her mystical powers to rip out their flesh or burn them alive, I saw a widening of her eyes that was manic and almost animalistic. The target was locked in and she wa sn t going to let go until the opposition was gone. This is the type of eye contact I played with when I was in the scene with Roy. When Roy wouldn t put down the phone and turned away from me, I radiated my energy into him, keeping locked in until he knew I wasn t going to leave. In the moment of radiating my energy into him, I also thought of a tiger. In observing a tiger s eyes, I notice its dangerous gaze. Its body will be still and its eyes will be locked on the prey before it gets ready to pounce. Alt hough I was not physically harming Roy in any moment, I had to make him feel threatened. I had to let him know who was the dominant figure in the room.


33 Aaliyah s brief cameo in this movie shows a character that was moves with ease, confidence, specificit y, and danger. Although all my actions and my point of view were internalized, I needed to find something that was going to make the conflict more engaging and theatrical. The movement in the shoulders and spine, as well as her radiation of energy helped b ring Belize s external character to life. Problems of the Personal Investment in Occupation My biggest challenge was getting trying get out of my own way when it came to the details of the nursing home. Having worked in the environment for so long, I was very specific about my surroundings and my props. Even when I was miming the props in rehearsal, I knew what color the pill bottle was and what text was written on it. I also knew what was written on Roy s patient chart and I even took Roy s vital signs al though the script didn t call for it. This provided some obstacles, as sometimes I would be so connected to the thought of the text written on the chart that I would miss a cue line. I thought I was being detailed, but the amount of detail was getting in t he way of the essential action. This reminded me of watching scene work that had elaborate decorations on tables and excessive accessories on the clothing. All these detail gave a sense of history and environment, but the acting in the scene was poor. When I was reading the text on the pill bottle that I had conjured up, my director told me that I looked like I was evaluating an essay. My knowledge of the details in the room was helpful, but I was forgetting the most important person in the room: my scene p artner. As a result, I started to minimize the details. I made a brief acknowledgement of the props such as the patient chart and pill bottles, and then went directly back into the scene with Roy. Knowing how properly to handle medication and take vital si gns can be helpful for the psychology of the role, but props and knowledge of the occupation are secondary to the action.


34 Added to this, I also had trouble up until the last few rehearsals with the motivation for Roy Cohn s exposed arm. When Joe and Roy a re in the hospital, Roy pulls out his own IV and Belize is supposed to see this and give him a new dressing. The problem in the scene is that there are several lines that are spoken in between when Belize see s the open wound and Kushner s stage direction t hat states that Belize moves in. This is not realistic in a professional nursing setting. As a nurse s aide, I wouldn t allow five seconds to pass without taking action, especially considering that there is a patient with AIDS in the room. So I changed the blocking as follows: I saw the wound, I then ran out of the room to get my gloves, retrieved a clean towel on the back of Roy s bed, and then made a straight course to his exposed arm. While this seemed more complicated than the suggestion of Kushner s st age directions, it actually added to the intensity of the scene for me and gave me a better purpose than standing in shock and waiting for an epiphany to start moving. Belize is a character who is about progress and taking action, not someone who would sta nd around waiting for a solution.


35 CHAPTER 4 PERFORMANCE Michael Chekhov s Psychological Gesture and Atmosphere In order attain my objectives, I used Michael Chekhov s archetypal gestures. Using actions, some actors use actions such as to teach, to plead, or to demand. I married the action with specific archetypal gestures. If my action was to teach I loaded it with penetrate. If my action was to threaten, I loaded it with smash. These actions are of a more useful vocabulary to me as an a ctor. I first performed these gestures unveiled offstage and then brought the veiled version to the rehearsal and performance. When my performance started, I noticed some increasing tension because of my difficulty with some of the props. In order to brin g back the ease, I reinforced flowing as a quality of movement. The rhythm of my everyday self is very staccato, but Belize is a legato character, and practicing with a sense of flow gave my character an ease that allowed my body and my gestures to lengthe n. Although flow was helping lead my movement in the performance, my archetypal gesture before the performance was a stark contrast. Before I started every performance, I brought my hands inward to my mid section, and then thrust them out in a jerking moti on several times. Before doing the gesture, I played with the imagery of a personal rival and I started the action. I admit that the gesture had gotten more violent with each performance, but this gave me the starting point for Belize s point of view. Alth ough he moves with ease and doesn t need to do much to control a room, he is faced with adversity. This psychological gesture needed to be underneath in order to intimidate and defend against the disrespect he encounters from Roy. Flowing and psychological gestures were two elements from the Michael Chekhov Technique that made me performance ready.


36 Some of my successes in the rehearsal process came from my prior experience of the atmosphere as a nurse s aide. In order to start the scene, I needed to enter t he room with a sense of the environment. Belize is walking into a room of an evil individual who has oppressed the gay community and who has had the audacity to use racial slurs against him. In order feel what Belize is walking into, I used Chekhov s notio n of atmosphere. Every mood, place, and temperature has its own atmosphere. As Belize, I chose the atmosphere of the nursing home when I stepped into Roy Cohn s room. The atmosphere has a foul odor, the temperature is colder and it s uneasy. This kept the stakes high. Anytime I stepped into this room, I needed to adapt to the mood of the room. Like some of my patients in the nursing home, Roy uses racial slurs, throws medication, and threatens to have Belize fired. The atmosphere also affected m e physically In the scene with Roy, I can recall my stomach being in knots and a shortening of my breath. In order to deal with this, I needed to push this uneasiness aside and get to my action in the scene. It kept me on high alert because I was always fighting agai nst something in the scene, even if the conflict was occurring within myself. Although I wasn t ruled by the atmosphere, it started me off at the place I where needed to be, mentally and physically. Self Evaluation While I never say that I feel complete, I certainly took a monumental step forward in my progress as an actor. I stepped into a character who was assertive and clever, and while I admire these qualities, I have come to realize that they were a part of me all along When I had to give a harsh truth or stand up for myself as Belize, these were moments came from my whole self. What I also take away from this was the diminishment of my need to please an audience. I used


37 to worry about the reviews from friends, peers, and students who saw t he show. I needed their approval that my work was solid, but I m not longer worried about being validated. I stayed invested in pursu ing my action in every scene that I was in for every performance. While the laughs and applause were abundant for every sho w, my only concern was my scene partner and what I needed from them in the moment. Whether someone enjoyed my performance was the least of my worries because I know that I stayed in focus for Belize. I can recall one performance where I had a trip up on a couple of lines. My tendency in the past was to chastise myself afterward for not having the perfect performance. But in this performance, I simply rolled with the obstacle and forged ahead. If my concern is about the scene, as it should always be, then I have should have no worries about audience approval or disapproval.


38 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION This has been the greatest experience I ve had as an actor. I was able to employ the Alexander Technique, essential action, the Michael Chekhov Technique, and chara cter research to create a role that I am proud of. I couldn t have asked for better mentors in Tim and Kathy as they truly wanted me at my best, not only for the good of the show, but for my growth as an artist. I can look at myself and see the quirky comi c character, but I can also see the strong, assertive leading man. And I now that I ve realized that these qualities were within me the entire time, I have incorporated them into my relationships with friends and family as well. I used to roll my eyes at a ctors who would say that a role changed their life, but I now find myself in the position saying that a character has made me a better person.


39 ANGELS IN AMERICA: PERESTROIKA March 28 April 6, 2014 University of Florida Constans Theater


40 Production Photos Act 1 Scene 4: Belize and Henry. Now may I help you doctor or are you just cruising me?


41 Act 4 Scene 3 You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I ll show you America. Terminal, crazy, and mean.


42 Act 4 Scene 1: Belize, Roy, Joe. Get somewhere you can take off that shirt and throw it out, and don t touch the blood


43 Act 3 Scene 2: Roy and Belize. There s a nursing shortage. I m in a union. I m real scared.


44 Epilogue: Whole Cast The Great Work Begins.


45 W orks Cited 100 th Congress. "S.1402 Nursing Shortage Reduction Act of 1987." S.1402 Sen. Kennedy, Edward M. [D MA], n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Barclay, Stephen. "Tony Kushner Talks about Becoming a Writer." YouTube .10 June 2009. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Boffey, Philip. Reagan Defends Financing for AIDS ." The New York Times 17 Sept. 1985. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Carrey, Jim. "Jim Carrey | TruLife Outrageous Never Before Seen Footage of Jim Carrey as Tony Clifton from the Set of Man on the Moon ." N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Geis, Deborah R., and Steven F. Kruger. Approaching the Millennium: Essays on Angels in America Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P 1997. Print. Kushner, T ony Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika New York, NY: Theatre Communications Group, 1995. Print. Kushner, Tony, and Robert Vorlicky. Tony Kushner in Conversation Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P 1998. Print. Newschaefer, C J, and J A Schoenman. "Appropriate Public Policy Registered Nurse Shortages: The Road to Appropriate Public Policy." Http:// Health Affairs, Feb. 1990. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. "Nursing Duties, Responsibilities and Career Options." Http://education Education Portal, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Paris Is Burning Dir. Jennie Livingston. Perf. Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Willie Ninja, Venus Xtravaganza. Miramax Films, 1990. Netflix. "Queen of the Damned: Akasha's Carnage." YouTube 4 Oct. 2010. Web. 17 Apr. 2014 Robinson, B. A. "The Gay Liberation Movement during the 1980s." All about Religious Tolerance: The Web Site Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, 23 July 2002. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.


46 BIOGRAPHY Joel Oramas was born and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He received his Associate of Arts in Theater Arts from Housatonic Community College and his Bachelor of Arts from Western Connecticut State University. During his time at WCSU, he received a pass in Unarmed from the Society of American Fight Directors He was a scene partner in two Irene Ryan competitions and was nominated for an Irene Ryan for his portrayal of The Cat in the Hat in Seussical the Musical. He has also performed the role of Will in The Will of Love and was a featured vocalist in Irving Berlin s I Love a Piano in New York City. At the University of Florida, he received recommended passes in Unarmed and Armed (rapier and dagger) stage combat and was nominated for an Irene Ryan. His ro les at the University of Florida include Donald in You Can t Take it With You The Melancholy Detective in Roberto Zucco Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile Jon in Tick..tick..Boom!, Florindo in A Servant to Two Masters, and Belize in Angels in America: Perestroika. During his internship, he was taken on as an acting/education intern at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, where he taught Shakespeare classes to high s chool students and performed the role of the Pedant in The Taming of the Shrew and H appy in A Magic Treehouse Adventure: A Night in New Orleans. He also worked at the Hippodrome Theater where he received thorough training in puppetry and performed the role of Trekkie Monster in Avenue Q This summer, Joel will be performing with the Thin Air Theater Company in Cripple Creek, Colorado performing the role of Rusty in in Guys and Dolls and Joe Dextry in The Spoilers. Joel is a proud member of Equity Membership Candidacy program.