Tony Kushner's sudden and conspicuous arrival on the international stage in the early 1990s was as surprising and jolting as the abrupt celestial appearance at the end of Millennium Approaches, the first of Kushner's two Angels in America plays. Together, these plays comprise a theatrical epic that critics compared favorably to the greatest plays of the twentieth century. In an era of increasing devaluation of the arts-and of the theater in particular-Kushner's self-describe d "gay fantasia on national themes" moved international audiences , generated controversy , and inspired activists and artists.