Join us for a stimulating conversation with preeminent Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, author of the play and television miniseries Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes and the screenplays for Steven Spielberg’s Munich and Lincoln.
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Join us for a stimulating conversation with preeminent playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, of whom the New York Times has written, “Some playwrights want to change the world. Some want to revolutionize theatre. Tony Kushner is that rarity of rarities: a writer who has the promise to do both.” Tackling many of the most challenging issues of our time—including AIDS in Angels in America, Afghanistan’s long-tortured relationship with the West in Homebody/Kabul, German fascism and Reaganism in A Bright Room Called Day and racism and the civil rights movement in Caroline, or Change—he is invariably political but never polemical. Instead Kushner rejects ideology in favor of what he calls “a dialectically shaped truth,” which must be “outrageously funny” and “absolutely agonizing,” and must “move us forward.” He gives voice to characters who have been rendered powerless by the forces of circumstances—a drag queen dying of AIDS, an uneducated Southern maid, contemporary Afghans—and his attempt to see all sides of their predicament has a sly subversiveness. He forces the audience to identify with those who are marginalized—a humanizing act of the imagination. A provocative discussion moderated by Dinah Lenney, professor of writing at USC, will explore Kushner's life, career, challenges and inspirations.
Kushner is best known for the play and television miniseries Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’s film of Angels in America and for Steven Spielberg’sMunich. In 2012, he wrote the screenplay for Spielberg’s Lincoln, which was nominated for an Academy Award and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award, Boston Society of Film Critics Award and Chicago Film Critics Award, among others. His books include But the Giraffe: A Curtain Raisingand Brundibar: The Libretto, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to Present; and Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. His latest work includes a collection of one-act plays, entitled Tiny Kushner, featuring characters such as Laura Bush, Nixon’s analyst, the queen of Albania and a number of tax evaders, and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.
Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Oscar nomination, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and a Cultural Achievement Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, among many others. In September 2008, Kushner became the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, the largest theatre award in the U.S. He was also awarded the 2009 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement. He is the subject of a documentary film, Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner, made by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock.
Photo: Joan Marcus