Actors visit law lecture to illustrate gay issues

Angels in America cast members performed scenes concerning the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

Angels in America cast members performed scenes concerning the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

Philadelphia theater company BCKSEET Productions traveled to a Temple law classroom from the Society Hill Playhouse last week to perform two scenes from the play Angels in America.

The drama by Tony Kushner, subtitled “A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” follows a group of characters caught in the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

The performance offered students of the freshman-level GenEd course Law and American Society a closer look at the issues they’re studying. With more than 400 students, the university’s largest class filled Anderson Hall’s room 17 to watch the scenes.

The first scene showed the character of a powerful, closeted gay lawyer pleading with a colleague to accept a job with the justice system to get him out of a legal jam.

The following scene took place between the same lawyer and his new partner, centering on a confrontation the pair had about the lawyer’s involvement in law decisions that hurt gays and other groups, which escalated into a physical fight.

“I like how they’re all dramatic,” freshman biology major Carmen Taboada said. “It was a very interesting topic, actually.”

Taboada said she would like to see the full play.

“If I had the disposable income I would go see it,” said freshman accounting major Kadija Cole, who went on to comment on social issues raised in the play.

“I don’t like how they discriminate against gay people,” she said. “They’re not hurting anyone as far as I’m concerned.”

Students are working on a project in which they act as lawyers and take a stance on an issue, then write a brief and argue the case, Professor Samuel D. Hodge Jr. said.

“It’s a scenario that’s created, and we’re focusing on an area of the law called Equal Protection in the 14th Amendment,” the teaching assistant, law student Matthew Morley, added.

“There were a lot of things brought to the table that I really didn’t think about,” freshman political science major Julian Fowler said.

“I think that politics are personal, that laws have effects on individuals,” Andrew Borthwick-Leslie, director of Angels in America, said, relating the play to the law class. “Every time a law is passed or somebody is elected, somebody’s life is changed, and it’s very easy to forget the impact.”

BCKSEET Productions is the resident theater company of the Society Hill Playhouse’s Red Room at Eighth and Lombard streets. The play is showing now and will run through Nov. 28.

Thomas Driscoll can be reached at

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