Tony Kushner in Conversation

Overview

In the Fall of 1992, Millennium Approaches, the first part of Tony Kushner's Angels in America, won England's prestigious Evening Standard award as the season's Best Play. By the Spring of 1993, Millennium had come to Broadway and won its highest honor, the Tony Award for Best Play, and the distinguished Pulitzer Prize for drama as well. Through its epic theatrical panorama of the intimate and political dynamics that arise when individuals, histories, and cultures intersect, Millennium captured the imagination ...
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Overview

In the Fall of 1992, Millennium Approaches, the first part of Tony Kushner's Angels in America, won England's prestigious Evening Standard award as the season's Best Play. By the Spring of 1993, Millennium had come to Broadway and won its highest honor, the Tony Award for Best Play, and the distinguished Pulitzer Prize for drama as well. Through its epic theatrical panorama of the intimate and political dynamics that arise when individuals, histories, and cultures intersect, Millennium captured the imagination and the conscience of all who saw it. Its ability to deeply move the audience in personal, communal, and political ways was admirably (and astoundingly) matched by the subsequent production of the play's second part, Perestroika, which brought Kushner yet another Evening Standard award and Tony Award for Best Play (1994). Tony Kushner has, almost overnight, become the premier American male playwright to "represent" the 1990s, as David Mamet and August Wilson dominated critical attention in the 1980s.
The phenomenally positive response to Angels in America was matched by the equally enthusiastic reception of its young, politically engaged playwright, who impressed journalists and scholars with his eloquent intellect, wit, and moral convictions. Kushner spoke for a younger generation of American artists and activists whose art is intimately connected to social vision and "revolutionary" possibilities in the public and private sectors. His role as a generational (read "national," "liberal," "socialist," "Jewish," "queer") spokesman has provided him with a public platform from which to address concerns that lie at the centerof national debate. In a short time Kushner has captured and retained a nation's fascination, and his opinions are widely sought out on a wide range of topics. And, most often, the platform from which Kushner expresses his ideas is the personal interview, in which he boldly confronts Americans to rethink, even to reinvent, themselves as the Millennium approaches.
Tony Kushner in Conversation is the first book to compile Kushner's most significant interviews of the past decade, tracing his career from its early years to his maturing artistic and political visions. The collection includes pieces that first appeared in an amazingly broad range of periodicals as well as interviews not previously published, such as his appearance on PBS on The Charlie Rose Show.
In addition to Angels in America, Tony Kushner is author of Slavs! and is currently finishing work on Henry Box Brown, scheduled to have its world premiere at the Royal National Theatre in the summer of 1997. Robert Vorlicky is Associate Professor of Drama at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Seldom has a new work of dramatic literature been discussed by scholars as widely and quickly as Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Angels in America. One scholar termed it "a turning point in the history of gay drama, the history of American drama, and of American literary culture." The breadth of the play's thematic concerns, the originality of its construction and characterizations, and the multiple ambivalences of its message guarantee that it will provoke stimulating critical and scholarly discussion. These two volumesthe first works devoted entirely to Kushner to be published in the United Statesrepresent a major step in the canonization of Kushner's "Gay Fantasia on National Themes." Geis and Kruger (both English, Queens Coll., CUNY) have grouped 18 essaysonly two of which are reprintsinto four categories: the play's political and historical themes; issues of racial, ethnic, and religious identity; apocalypse and the millennium; and performance contexts. Though all 18 are stimulating, the academic prose makes the collection appropriate only for collections supporting graduate or advanced undergraduate studies. Vorlicky (drama, New York Univ.) provides a major service by bringing together 22 interviews with Kushner, about half previously published (but several in ephemeral and nonacademic periodicals) and the others transcribed from television talk shows and symposia. The breadth of Kushner's interests and knowledge and the passion of his political and social commitments are on full display here. Reading the two collections together is particularly illuminating, as Kushner's own views at times both confirm and dampen the critical speculations of the scholars. Both volumes are mandatory for academic American literature, theater, or gay studies collections. Public libraries serving substantial gay male populations also should consider the collection of interviews.Robert W. Melton, Univ. of Kansas Libs. Lawrence
Wayne Koestenbaum
Prophet, rabblerouser, mensch: Tony Kushner's business, as Emily Dickinson almost said, is paradise, and he means to bring us closer to it, quickly. This devotion to the word -- his conviction that one must speak profusely, generously, nakedly -- will inspire talkers and dreamers of every stripe. -- Wayne Koestenbaum
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472096619
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1997
  • Series: Triangulations Series
  • Pages: 286
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Works
Introduction: "Two not One" 1
Look Back - and Forward - in Anger 11
Tony Kushner at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain 18
The Eye of the Storm 30
Tony, Tonys, and Television 44
AIDS, Angels, Activism, and Sex in the Nineties 51
Thinking about Fabulousness 62
The Oddest Phenomena in Modern History 77
Liza Gets Another Tony 85
The Gay Rights Movement - Twenty-Five Years 93
I Always Go Back to Brecht 105
The Proust Questionnaire 125
A Conversation with Tony Kushner and Robert Altman 128
The Road to Optimism 148
On Art, Angels, and "Postmodern Fascism" 152
Tony Kushner's Angels 157
On Art and Politics 170
The Theater and the Barricades 188
Wrestling with Angels 217
Not on Broadway 231
Why Get Out of Bed? 245
Poetry, Plays, Politics, and Shifting Geographies 255
Afterword 267
Index 277
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