Tony Kushner's Headshot

Tony Kushner

- Panelist Blurb

Tony Kushner is best known for his two-part epic, Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia On National Themes. Kushner takes glee in tackling the most difficult subjects in contemporary history - AIDS and the conservative counter-revolution (Angels In America), Afghanistan and the West (Homebody/Kabul), the rise of capitalism (Hydriotaphia, or the Death of Dr. Browne), and racism and the civil rights movement in the South (Caroline, or Change).

Kushner's plays, which are invariably political, are rarely 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, and his attempt to see all sides of their predicament has a sly subversiveness. He forces the audience to identify with the marginalized - a humanizing act of the imagination.

Kushner wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols' film of Angels In America, and Steven Spielberg's Munich. He has translated and adapted Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children; and the English-language libretto for the children's opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa. His books include The Art of Maurice Sendak, 1980 to the Present; and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon.

Kushner has received numerous awards including: a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Oscar nomination, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Cultural Achievement Award from The National Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is the subject of a documentary film, Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner, made by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock. He is currently working on a screenplay about Abraham Lincoln.

Born in New York City in 1956, and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, he now lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.

NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from November 21, 2008.