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ABOUT TONY KUSHNER


Tony Kushner Biography
This short biography of Tony Kushner comes courtesy of the Steven Barclay Agency, which represents Kushner for lectures and readings. The biography lists Kushner's plays, other writings, awards and accomplishments.

Mother Jones: "Tony Kushner, Radical Pragmatist"
Tony Kushner talks about Angels in America's long road from the theater to the television screen, his thoughts on young people and activism, and why constitutional democracy stills offers the best possibility for change in today's world. (June 2007)

Sacramento Bee: "Playwright Not Afraid to Take Sides"
Tony Kushner talks about his work on Caroline, or Change, on the Munich screenplay and on the differences between theater and film. (March 19, 2007)

Utne Reader: "Why Politics and Purity Don't Mix"
In this interview, Tony Kushner talks about his work, politics and why activists — even those on the far left — should work for the Democratic Party to effect change rather than "throw paint at Starbucks." (July/August, 2004)

Salon.com: "Coming Out As A Socialist"
Insisting on his role as a political provocateur, Tony Kushner talks about the time he went to the White House and told Bill Clinton that he was "blowing it." He also explains the difficulty of balancing his roles as activist and artist and why some Americans are shocked and appalled by the thought of any alternatives to capitalism. (June, 1996)

Mother Jones: "Tony Kushner"
This 1995 interview with Tony Kushner was conducted a few years after Kushner finished Angels in America. In the interview, Kushner talks about the relationship between politics and aesthetics, why you should always assume that the audience you're writing for is smarter than you, and the necessity of establishing a third political party. (July/August 1995)

Guernica: "Writing the Playwright: Tony Kushner in Conversation with Frederick Tuten"
Tony Kushner talks to author Frederick Tuten about his roles as a playwright and a public figure, his love of Melville and how the popular success of Angels in America was, in a certain sense, an accident. (June, 2005)

 

By Tony kushner



Read the full text of the commencement speech Tony Kushner gave at Vassar College, featured in the beginning of "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner." (May 26, 2002)

Los Angeles Times: "Defending Munich's Disputed Territory"
Tony Kushner responds to the criticism of his screenplay for Steven Spielberg's film Munich and talks about some of his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this op-ed piece. Reprinted by the Shalom Center. (January 22, 2006)

The Nation: "Kushner on Miller"
On the occasion of Arthur Miller's death, Tony Kushner pens a moving eulogy and a thoughtful remembrance of the late playwright as a political artist of the highest order. (May 26, 2005)

Alternet: "Despair Is a Lie We Tell Ourselves"
In this op-ed, Tony Kushner urges readers to take action and be politically active because the situation is dire at this moment in history. The article originally appeared in the anthology The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear. (September 14, 2004)

The Nation: "Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy"
Tony Kushner wrote this scene from the point of view of Laura Bush reading to dead Iraqi children and being forced to confront the consequences of her husband's foreign policy. In "Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner," this piece is seen as performed by the actress Marcia Gay Harden. (March 6, 2003)

Salon.com: "First Lady Fights Back"
In this follow-up to the scene, "Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy" (see above), Tony Kushner imagines Laura Bush's response to seeing a performance of the scene. She spars with the imaginary Kushner and claims Dostoevsky for conservatives. (August 4, 2004)

For a list of plays and books by Tony Kushner, download the POV's Delve Deeper (PDF) for the film, developed in collaboration with the American Library Association.

 

Also on PBS and NPR


PBS.org Websites

NOW: History of Political Theater
The stage has forever been a place where political issues have been examined. The ritualistic and social significance of the earliest Greek performances in central arenas brought relevance to many controversial topics, a pattern that has not subsided to this day. According to Wikipedia, "Political theater is drama or performing art which emphasizes a political issue or issues in its theme or plot.... Political theater can also be defined as exploring themes more universal and central to society itself, especially when that society defines itself as politically conscious."

American Masters: Group Theatre
In the summer of 1931, three young idealists, Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg, were inspired by a passionate dream of transforming the American theater. They conceived The Group Theatre as a response to what they saw as the old-fashioned light entertainment that dominated the theater of the late 1920's. Their vision was of a new theater that would mount original American plays to mirror — even change — the life of their troubled times. Over its ten years and twenty productions, they not only met these goals, but altered the course of American theater forever.

American Masters: Arthur Miller
In the period immediately following the end of World War II, American theater was transformed by the work of playwright Arthur Miller. Profoundly influenced by the Depression and the war that immediately followed it, Miller tapped into a sense of dissatisfaction and unrest within the greater American psyche. His probing dramas proved to be both the conscience and redemption of the times, allowing people an honest view of the direction the country had taken.

American Masters: Neil Simon
Neil Simon is the world's most successful playwright. He has had dozens of plays and nearly as many major motion pictures produced. He has been showered with more Academy and Tony nominations than any other writer, and is the only playwright to have four Broadway productions running simultaneously. His plays have been produced in dozens of languages, and have been blockbuster hits from Beijing to Moscow. His true success, however, is in his unique way of exposing something real in the American spirit.

NPR Stories

Talk of the Nation: Documentary Spotlights Playwright Tony Kushner
A new PBS documentary, "Wrestling with Angels," chronicles the personal and professional life of playwright Tony Kushner, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Angels in America. The new film follows the artist and activist for three years, from Sept. 11, 2001, to the 2004 presidential election. Kushner and filmmaker Freida Lee Mock discuss the new film, which airs Wednesday on PBS. (December 11, 2007)

Weekend Edition: Freida Lee Mock, Wrestling with Kushner
Freida Lee MockMock, who won an Oscar for a previous documentary on Vietnam Veterans Memorial architect Maya Lin (Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision) tells Liane Hansen how she came to pick Kushner as a documentary subject, and what it was like to spend so much time in his world. (October 29, 2006)

Talk of the Nation: Caroline, Or Change
American playwright Tony Kushner is best known for Angels in America, the two-part drama that won the Pulitzer Prize and numerous Tony awards on Broadway, and won Emmies as a TV production. His plays are politically controversial, and are not always cheered by the critics. A semi-autobiographical musical called Caroline, or Change got lukewarm reviews on Broadway, but four years later, a revival is playing to glowing notices, packed audiences and standing ovations at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. Kushner talks about the show and takes caller questions about his work. (June 20, 2006)

The Tavis Smiley Show: 'Caroline, Or Change' Lyicist Tony Kushner
producer Roy Hurst talks with multiple award-winning playwright Tony Kushner about his new musical Caroline, or Change. Kushner, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his play cycle Angels in America, wrote the book and lyrics to the musical, based in large part on his childhood growing up in Lake Charles, La. (December 9, 2004)

Fresh Air: Playwright Tony Kushner
Kushner adapted his epic Tony-award winning play Angels in America into a screenplay for HBO (broadcast this month in two three-hour parts). The play is set in New York in the mid-1980s during the midst of the AIDS epidemic. The HBO film is directed by Mike Nichols and stars Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson. Kushner also has a new semi-autobiographical musical Caroline, or Change at the Public Theater in New York. (December 9, 2003)

Fresh Air from WHYY: TV Review: Angels in America
TV critic David Bianculli reviews the HBO production of Angels in America. (December 5, 2003)

All Things Considered: Homebody/Kabul
"I didn't imagine, when I was working on the play, that by the time we produced it, the United States would be at war with Afghanistan." So writes playwright Tony Kushner about his newest play, Homebody/Kabul. The play, set in London and the Afghan capital at the end of the '90s, follows the story of a lonely and over-medicated British housewife — a "homebody" — falling under the spell of an out-of-date travel guide for Afghanistan. (December 3, 2001)





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