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  • Writer's pictureConnor Sullivan

"I Am a Very Good Man" - Angels in America 2019

Joe Pitt believes this about himself. As a devout Mormon, Joe has made choices to hide parts of himself that don't align with the teachings of the church. He fights at all times to be good. I wish I could take credit as this being the pull quote that I chose for him, but when we first began rehearsals in January there was a book on the table called The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America by Dan Kois and Isaac Butler. Anyone taking on this marathon masterpiece will need to get a hold of this book. It is incredibly useful. There are chapters dedicated to each of the characters and the title of Joe's being I am a very good man.

I am going to spend a long long time trying to process everything that I learned about myself and acting while working on Angels in America. The two part revelation really is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've gotten to do in my artistic life. With a show like this it is critical to find a group that is willing to really be vulnerable and go through the joys and the heartache each and every performance. We got lucky. Our cast was more than willing to explore and find deeper moments each time we revisited the material up until closing. I fell in love with them. I wish you could have seen our Harper because she was force to be reckoned with and made my job of loving her incredibly easy and confessing to her the most difficult thing imaginable, our Hannah became mom on and off stage because she really looked out for me (not to mention she is the most talented actress I've ever worked with), our Roy was everything that role needed to be; menacing and manipulative and at the same time very alone and in need of care and protection, the Angel was and is incredible! I loved watching and working with her, Belize brought both parts sass and strength and I got to listen to him bring love to all people every show, Louis and Prior got me through this. They were there for me when I needed to vent about my insecurities and they have become some of my favorite people I've shared the stage with. Google them. And see them in a show because you'll see. And you'll be happy. The stage manager has become a close friend and the designers and crew were next level all working at the top of their game. Led by a director with the biggest heart and a very clear idea of what this piece is, we created something very special. I will not ever forget it.

My favorite part of the experience with Angels is that the doing of it starts to transcend theatre in a way. [Before that makes sense I have to backtrack a little. An actor gets cast in a show. They rehearse and put a lot of work into getting it ready for an audience. The show has (hopefully) a couple previews where the director can see how the audience is receiving moments and can adjust things as they see fit. The play opens. People see it and sometimes they stay after to give some kind words. These range anywhere from "congratulations!" to "you look like you are having so much fun up there!" to "how do you possibly remember all those lines?" and while comments like this are very nice, they somehow feel like they aren't quite enough to make an actor like me feel like what we are doing is making any kind of difference or impact.] Cut back to this show. After an audience has sat through 6.5 hours of these characters' lives, they feel like they know them. Not that they know the actor playing them necessarily but the character. So the comments now are "I cannot believe you did x" or "y really affected me because my son went through the exact same thing" or "I was so mad when z happened." That is more than a compliment. People having reactions like that means that the story went deeper than actors standing on a stage saying scripted words and becomes something more. A lens that gets held up to humanity and offers a view into what we as people are collectively struggling through. That was incredible. And that is why I do this.

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