Tony Kushner (July 16, 1956 - ..)
Born: 16th July, 1956
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Playwright
Region: New York City, New York, "Mother Courage and Her Children", "Munich"
Notable works: National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize, Tony Awards

Tony Kushner Facts

Biography

Tony Kushner, (born July 16, 1956, New York, New York, U.S.), American dramatist who became one of the most highly acclaimed playwrights of his generation after the debut of his two-part play Angels in America (1990, 1991).

Kushner grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and attended Columbia University and New York University. His early plays include La Fin de la Baleine: An Opera for the Apocalypse (1983), A Bright Room Called Day (1985), Yes, Yes, No, No (1985), and Stella (1987). His major work, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, consists of two lengthy plays that deal with political issues and the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s while meditating on change and loss--two prominent themes throughout Kushner's oeuvre. The first part, Millennium Approaches (1990), won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for best play; the second, Perestroika (1991), also won a Tony Award for best play. Angels in America proved to be extremely popular for a work of its imposing length (the two parts run seven hours in total), and it was adapted for an Emmy Award-winning television film that aired in 2003.

Kushner's subsequent plays include Slavs! (1994); A Dybbuk; or, Between Two Worlds (1995), an adaptation of S. Ansky's Yiddish classic Der Dibek; Henry Box Brown; or, The Mirror of Slavery (1998); and Homebody/Kabul (1999), which addresses the relationship between Afghanistan and the West. He also wrote the book for the musical Caroline, or Change (1999). His unfinished Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, written in response to the Iraq War, was performed in a number of readings in 2004, and his translation of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children was staged in New York City in 2006. Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (2009) is a naturalistic drama about an extended family of intellectuals dealing with their patriarch's desire to commit suicide.

In addition to his work for the stage, Kushner contributed screenplays to Steven Spielberg's films Munich (2005; cowritten with Eric Roth) and Lincoln (2012). Kushner also authored the children's book Brundibar (2003; illustrated by Maurice Sendak) and coedited (with Alisa Solomon) the essay collection Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (2003). He received the National Medal of Arts in 2013.

Top 63 Tony Kushner quotes

Making movies is a very different experience in a lot of ways. It's difficult when you're used to owning the copyright and having a landlord's possessory rights - I rent my plays to the companies that do them and, if I'm upset, I can pull the play. But the only two directors I've worked with are pretty great.
Companies
Copyright
Different
Difficult
Directors
Experience
Great
Having
I can
Landlord
Lot
Making
Making movies
Movies
You could argue that Barack Obama faced in '08 a situation as bad as any president since the Great Depression. What Obama inherited from the Bush administration, we all remember, was just an absolute global catastrophe.
Absolute
Administration
Any
Argue
Bad
Barack
Barack obama
Bush
Bush administration
Catastrophe
Could
Depression
Faced
Global
You have to have hope. It's irresponsible to give false hope, which I think a lot of playwrights are guilty of. But I also think it's irresponsible to simply be a nihilist, which quite a lot of playwrights, especially playwrights younger than me, have become guilty of.
Also
Become
False
Give
Guilty
Hope
I think
Irresponsible
Lot
Me
Playwrights
Quite
Quite a lot
Simply
One of the things I learned in 'Slavs!' is that it's much easier to talk about being gay than it is to talk about being a socialist. People are afraid of socialism, and plays that deal with economics are scarier to them.
About
Afraid
Being
Deal
Easier
Economics
Gay
Learned
Much
One of the things
People
Plays
Socialism
Socialist
People shouldn't trust artists and they shouldn't trust art. Part of the fun of art is that it invites you to interpret it.
Art
Artists
Fun
Interpret
Invites
Part
People
Trust
You
When I teach writing, I always tell my students you should assume that the audience you're writing for is smarter than you. You can't write if you don't think they're on your side, because then you start to yell at them or preach down to them.
Always
Assume
Audience
Because
Down
Preach
Should
Side
Smarter
Start
Students
Teach
Tell
Than
Gay TV has been immensely important in transforming American culture in a more gay-positive direction.
American
American culture
Been
Culture
Direction
Gay
Has-been
Immensely
Important
More
Transforming
Tv
And 'Queer Eye' is fascinating. It has a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming quality. It's very bourgeois, of course, and much more about the liberation of the consumer than the liberation of the democratic citizen.
About
Bourgeois
Citizen
Consumer
Course
Democratic
Eye
Fascinating
Liberation
More
Much
Quality
Queer
Than
But I think what made me go into theater was seeing my mother onstage. The first thing she did was Mrs. Frank in 'The Diary of Anne Frank.' The second thing she did was a play about Freud called 'The Far Country.' She played a paralyzed woman in Vienna who goes to see Freud.
About
Anne
Country
Diary
Did
Far
First
First thing
Frank
Freud
Go
Goes
I think
Made
When I'm writing a new play, there's a period where I know I shouldn't be out in public much. I imagine most people who create go through something like this. You willfully loosen some of the inner straps that hold your core together.
Core
Create
Go
Hold
Imagine
Inner
Know
Like
Loosen
Most
Much
New
Out
People
As a playwright, you are a torturer of actors and of the audience as well. You inflict things on people.
Actor
Audience
Inflict
People
Playwright
Things
Well
You
I find writing very difficult. It's hard and it hurts sometimes, and it's scary because of the fear of failure and the very unpleasant feeling that you may have reached the limit of your abilities.
Ability
Because
Difficult
Failure
Fear
Feeling
Find
Hard
Hurts
Limit
May
Reached
Scary
Sometimes
Accuracy is paramount in every detail of a work of history. Here's my rule: Ask yourself, 'Did this thing happen?' If the answer is yes, then it's historical. Then ask, 'Did this thing happen precisely this way?' If the answer is yes, then it's history; if the answer is no, not precisely this way, then it's historical drama.
Accuracy
Answer
Ask
Detail
Did
Drama
Every
Happen
Here
Historical
History
Paramount
Precisely
Rule
It has always seemed to me that Barack Obama has studied intensely and learned a great deal from Lincoln.
Always
Barack
Barack obama
Deal
Great
Great deal
Intensely
Learned
Lincoln
Me
Obama
Seemed
Studied
The primary thing I should do, apart from being a good husband, brother, son, and friend, is to be a citizen activist. But I'm afraid it takes away from the writing. Not that anything depends on whether I put an essay in 'The Nation' or not. But you want to participate.
Activist
Afraid
Anything
Apart
Away
Being
Brother
Citizen
Depends
Essay
Friend
Good
Good husband
Husband
A play should have barely been rescued from the mess it might just as easily have been.
Barely
Been
Easily
Just
Mess
Might
Play
Rescued
Should
If you have value as an artist it's probably going to be in your capacity to let things inside you get past things that are placed there to keep you from telling the truth. The more you see things as clearly and coldly as you can, the more value you're going to have.
Artist
Capacity
Clearly
Get
Going
Inside
Keep
More
Past
Placed
See
Telling
Telling the truth
Things
When really writing I'm not a good friend. Because writing disorganizes the social self, you become atomized. It scrambles you, sometimes to the point that I'm incapable of speech. I feel that if I start speaking, I'll lose the writing, like getting off the treadmill.
Because
Become
Feel
Friend
Getting
Good
Good friend
I feel
Incapable
Like
Lose
Off
Point
Really
I don't feel, finally, that my politics are entirely determined by the fact that I'm a gay man.
Determined
Entirely
Fact
Feel
Finally
Gay
Man
Politics
I grew up in a small Southern town, and there were white people and black people. Coming to New York to go to Columbia, every time I went into the subway I was absolutely astounded because you see people from all over the world who actually live here - who aren't just here as tourists.
Absolutely
Actually
Because
Black
Columbia
Coming
Every
Every time
Go
Grew
Here
Just
Live
New
The streets of New York are entirely man-made and unmistakably that, so you feel as though you're on some sort of presentation platform whenever you're out on the streets.
Entirely
Feel
Man-made
New
New york
Out
Platform
Presentation
Some
Sort
Streets
Though
Whenever
York
I write everything with fountain pens. I don't know why. I've done it since I was bar mitzvahed. I was given a fountain pen, a Parker fountain pen, and I loved it, and I've never liked writing anything with pencils or ball-points.
Anything
Bar
Done
Everything
Fountain
Fountain pen
Given
I write
Know
Liked
Loved
Never
Parker
Pen
The computer, the noise of the computer feels like impatience. It's sort of the sound of impatience to me.
Computer
Feels
Impatience
Like
Me
Noise
Sort
Sound
There's a kind of a fundamental irresponsibility in playwriting, and the strength of playwriting comes from that irresponsibility.
Fundamental
Irresponsibility
Kind
Strength
The general consensus among historians, among the ones who can handle the fact that 'Lincoln' is, in fact, historical fiction, is that we demonstrate enormous fidelity to history and that, beyond that, we've actually contributed a line of thinking about Lincoln's presidency that's somewhat original.
About
Actually
Among
Beyond
Consensus
Demonstrate
Enormous
Fact
Fiction
Fidelity
General
Handle
Historians
Historical
I go into any movie that's historical fiction thinking, 'OK, I'm here to watch a work of art, something delivering a series of opinions, and if it's a good work of art, these opinions become so deeply embedded in complexity and richness that I won't even be bothered by the opinions. I'll make my own mind up.'
Any
Art
Become
Bothered
Complexity
Deeply
Delivering
Embedded
Even
Fiction
Go
Good
Good work
Here
You don't go to the movies to do historical research, unless it's historical research about the movies.
About
Go
Historical
Movies
Research
Unless
You
My back went out and I gained 40 pounds while sweating over 'Perestroika.' It was incredibly hard, the hardest thing I had to do before the screenplay to 'Lincoln.'
Back
Before
Gained
Had
Hard
Hardest
Hardest thing
Incredibly
Lincoln
Out
Over
Pounds
Screenplay
Sweating
The act of thinking and interpreting is so central to Judaism that it makes more sense that we've become people like Woody Allen - thinkers and talkers and drafters of law.
Act
Allen
Become
Central
Interpreting
Judaism
Law
Like
Makes
More
People
Sense
Talkers
Thinkers
I'm happy that I feel a little less out of place in filmmaking than I once was - but it's almost impossible for a playwright in the U.S. to make a living. You can have a play, like I did with 'Angels,' and it still generates income for me, but it's not enough for me to live on and have health insurance.
Almost
Angels
Did
Enough
Feel
Filmmaking
Happy
Health
Health insurance
I feel
Impossible
Income
Insurance
Less
I'm fairly certain when I die that the obituary will say, 'Author of 'Angels in America' dies.' Unless I'm completely forgotten, and then it won't say anything at all.
America
Angels
Anything
Author
Certain
Die
Dies
Fairly
Forgotten
Obituary
Say
Then
Unless
Will
The big influence on me was Robert Altman, who, especially in 'Nashville,' transformed my sense of dramatic structure and showed how you could handle overlapping stories.
Big
Big influence
Could
Dramatic
Handle
How
Influence
Me
Nashville
Robert
Sense
Stories
Structure
Transformed
But I still read Shaw on a regular basis. What I love is the nakedness of the polemic and the irresistible good humour. For me, 'Major Barbara' is the greatest of all the plays in that it starts from the rational and proceeds to the ecstatic in a spectacular way, and leaves you very confused if you cling to Euclidean logic.
Barbara
Basis
Cling
Confused
Ecstatic
Good
Greatest
Humour
I love
Irresistible
Leaves
Logic
Love
Love is
I feel there's a power in theatre, but it's an indirect power. It's like the relationship of the sleeper to the unconscious. You discover things you can't afford to countenance in waking life. You can forget them, remember them a day later or not have any idea what they are about.
About
Afford
Any
Countenance
Day
Discover
Feel
Forget
I feel
Idea
Indirect
Later
Life
Like
A handful of works in history have had a direct impact on social policy: one or two works of Dickens, some of Zola, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' and, in modern drama, Larry Kramer's 'The Normal Heart.'
Cabin
Dickens
Direct
Drama
Had
Handful
Heart
History
Impact
Larry
Modern
Normal
One or two
Social
I love reading; it's a great way to avoid writing.
Avoid
Great
Great way
I love
Love
Reading
Way
Writing
Unions are susceptible to the same ills that befall all human societies.
Befall
Human
Ills
Same
Societies
Susceptible
Unions
I'm going to start work on developing a series for HBO, because I'm naturally given to episodic stories of considerable length. And I won't have to listen to complaints about how wordy and long my work is if you can watch it on your telephone on the subway: You can make it conform to your day as if it were a book.
About
Because
Book
Complaints
Conform
Considerable
Day
Developing
Episodic
Given
Going
Hbo
How
Length
In a way, film and television are in the same sort of traumatic trance that print journalism is. The technology has outpaced our comprehension of its implications.
Comprehension
Film
Film and television
Implications
Journalism
Our
Print
Same
Sort
Technology
Television
Trance
Traumatic
Way
There's a way in which 'The Illusion' is a play about the theater.
About
Illusion
Play
Theater
Way
Which
I work best after the deadline has passed, when I'm in a panic.
After
Best
Deadline
Panic
Passed
Work
If you're gay and you can't hold hands, or you're black and you can't catch a taxi, or you're a woman and you can't go into the park, you are aware there's a menace. That's costly on a psychic level. The world should be striving to make all its members secure.
Aware
Black
Catch
Costly
Gay
Go
Hands
Hold
Level
Make
Members
Menace
Park
Psychic
I think I have a great deal of self-hatred, a profound feeling of fraudulence, of being detestable and evil. It's only a part of me, but it's there, and it's active.
Active
Being
Deal
Evil
Feeling
Great
Great deal
I think
Me
Only
Part
Profound
Think
The way you give love is the most profoundly human part of you. When people say it's ugly or a perversion or an abomination, they're attacking the center of your being.
Attacking
Being
Center
Give
Human
Love
Love is
Most
Part
People
People say
Perversion
Profoundly
Say
I tend to be sort of quiet and shy and awkward in social situations.
Awkward
Quiet
Shy
Situations
Social
Sort
Tend
You have a strange relationship with calamity when you're a writer: you write about it; as an artist, you objectify and fetishize it. You render life into material, and that's a creepy thing to do.
About
Artist
Calamity
Creepy
Life
Material
Relationship
Render
Strange
Thing
Write
Writer
You
I had a dream, in 1985, I believe, when a friend I'd gone to school with was sick - one of the first people I knew who'd gotten the AIDS virus. I had a dream of him in his bedroom with an angel crashing through the ceiling. I wrote a poem called 'Angels in America.' I've never looked at the poem since the day I wrote it.
Aids
America
Angel
Angels
Bedroom
Believe
Ceiling
Crashing
Day
Dream
First
First people
Friend
Gone
Theater really gets damaged when there is a paucity of good criticism around.
Around
Criticism
Damaged
Gets
Good
Really
Theater
The kind of theater that I do is sort of 'narrative realism,' which I think in the broadest sense is legitimate to say is mainstream. I mean, in a certain sense, Suzan-Lori's plays have had mainstream levels of success. But Suzan-Lori is in some ways not a narrative realist.
Certain
Had
I think
Kind
Legitimate
Levels
Mainstream
Mean
Narrative
Plays
Realism
Realist
Say
Sense
So I think I'll say the obvious thing: theater is ephemeral. When a production is done, it's gone forever. You can take pictures of it. You can make a film of it. But it's not the production. It's not the same thing.
Done
Ephemeral
Film
Forever
Gone
I think
Make
Obvious
Pictures
Production
Same
Same thing
Say
Take

Tony Kushner essays

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Gustav Freytag
Gustav Freytag
Gustav Freytag, (born July 13, 1816, Kreuzburg, Silesia, Prussia [now Kluczbork, Poland]--died..
Czeslaw Milosz
Czeslaw Milosz
Czeslaw Milosz, (born June 30, 1911, Seteniai, Lithuania, Russian Empire [now in Lithuania]--died..