Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner (kŏŏsh´nər), 1956–, American playwright, b. New York City. Educated at Columbia and New York Univ., he was a little-known off-Broadway playwright with several interesting works, e.g., Yes, Yes, No, No (1985) and A Bright Room Called Day (1987), to his credit when his Angels in America (1991–92) burst on the theatrical scene. This two-part, seven-hour, Pulitzer Prize– and Tony-winning drama of life in the age of AIDS mingles the political, personal, and universal in its treatment of such apparently disparate elements as gay and straight relationships, the Mormon faith, Roy Cohn, Ethel Rosenberg (see Rosenberg Case), disease, love, and death. The play was adapted into an Emmy-winning television drama (2002), directed by Mike Nichols. Hailed as a major talent, Kushner has been praised for his intelligence, wit, and humanity. Since Angels he has written Slavs! (1994), an ironic political fantasia; Homebody/Kabul (2001), a linguistically rich drama centered about an imaginary and a real Afghanistan; Caroline, or Change (2004), a semiautobiographical musical that focuses on issues of race and class, and The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (2011), a family drama that explores, among other things, reactions to the collapse of faith in outdated belief systems and morality codes.

Inspired by a 1942 Czech opera performed by children at the Theresienstadt concentration camp, Kushner supplied the text for the children's book Brundibar and the libretto for the opera (both: 2003) based on it; Maurice Sendak illustrated the book and designed the opera production. The two also collaborated on a version of Martinů's 1937 opera Comedy on the Bridge. Kushner has also made contemporary translations of two plays by Bertolt Brecht, Good Person of Setzuan (1994) and Mother Courage and Her Children (2006).

See R. Vorlicky, ed., Tony Kushner in Conversation (1998); studies by P. Brask, ed. (1995), D. R. Geis and S. F. Kruger, ed. (1997), J. Fisher (2001), and H. Bloom, ed. (2005).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Tony Kushner: Selected full-text books and articles

Contemporary American Playwrights By Christopher Bigsby Cambridge University Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: Chap. 3 "Tony Kushner"
Tony Kushner's Day By McCarter, Jeremy Newsweek, Vol. 153, No. 23, June 8, 2009
Hatred, Bigotry, and Prejudice: Definitions, Causes & Solutions By Robert M. Baird; Stuart E. Rosenbaum Prometheus Books, 1999
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Matthew's Passion" by Tony Kushner
War and Memory in the Twentieth Century By Martin Evans; Ken Lunn Berg Publishers, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. 1 "'I Want to Go on Living after My Death': The Memory of Anne Frank" by Tony Kushner
"The Angels of Fructification": Tennessee Williams, Tony Kushner, and Images of Homosexuality on the American Stage By Fisher, James The Mississippi Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 1, Winter 1995
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Taking It like a Man: White Masculinity, Masochism, and Contemporary American Culture By David Savran Princeton University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Discussion of "Angels in America" begins on p. 242
Theatre, Society, and the Nation: Staging American Identities By S. E. Wilmer Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: "Tony Kushner and a Utopian Vision" begins on p. 181
Modern American Drama, 1945-2000 By C. W. E. Bigsby Cambridge University Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: "Tony Kushner" begins on p. 419
Creating the Self in the Contemporary American Theatre By Robert J. Andreach Southern Illinois University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Tony Kushner begins on p. 211
Contemporary Gay American Poets and Playwrights: An A-to-Z Guide By Emmanuel S. Nelson Greenwood Press, 2003
Librarian's tip: "Tony Kushner (1956-)" begins on p. 246
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