Angels in America, part two (1994)






January I986


Scene I


In the darkness a Voice announces:


VOICE: In the Hall of Deputies, the Kremlin. January 1986. Aleksii Antedilluvianovich Prelapsarianov, the World's Oldest Living Bolshevik.


(Lights up on Prelapsarianov at a podium before a great red flag. He is unimaginably old and totally blind.)


ALEKSII ANTEDILLUVIANOVICH PRELAPSARIANOV: The Great Question before us is: Are we doomed? The Great Question before us is: Will the Past release us? The Great Question before us is: Can we Change? In Time? And we all desire that Change will come.


(Little pause)


(With sudden, violent passion) And Theory? How are we to proceed without Theory? What System of Thought  have these Reformers to present to this mad swirling planetary disorganization, to the Inevident Welter of fact, event, phenomenon, calamity? Do they have, as we did, a beautiful Theory, as Bold, as Grand, as comprehensive a construct…? You can’t imagine, when we first read the Classic  Texts, when in the dark vexed night of our ignorance and terror the seed-words sprouted and shoved incomprehension aside, when the incredible bloody vegetable struggle up and through to Red Blooming gave us Praxis, True Praxis, True Theory married to Actual Life…. You who live in this Sour Little Age cannot imagine the grandeur of the prospect we gazed upon: like standing atop the highest peak in the mighty Caucasus, and viewing in one all-knowing glance the mountainous, granite order of creation. You cannot imagine it. I weep for you.


And what have you to offer now, children of this Theory? What have you to offer in its place? Market Incentives? American Cheeseburgers? Watered-down Bukharinite stopgap makeshift Capitalism! NEPmen! Pygmy children of a gigantic race!


Change? Yes, we must must change, only show me the Theory, and I will be at the barricades, show me the book of the next Beautiful Theory, and I promise you these blind eyes will see again, just to read it, to devour that text. Show me the words that will reorder the world, or else keep silent.


If the snake sheds his skin before a new skin is ready, naked he will be in the world, prey to the forces of chaos. Without his skin he will be dismantled, lose coherence and die. Have you, my little serpents, a new skin?


Then we dare not, we cannot, we MUST NOT move ahead!