Later that night, the two chatted online for hours. ''His grammar was perfect,'' Kushner recalled. ''That was a turn-on.'' Their dates took place either in theaters or bookstores. ''When Coliseum Books closed, we practically wore black armbands,'' Kushner said.
Kushner was born in Manhattan, New York to Jewish clarinetist and conductor William Kushner and bassoonist Sylvia Deutscher. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, the seat of Calcasieu Parish where he spent his childhood. During high school Kushner had a reputation in policy debate, at one point going to a camp, and making it to the final rounds. Kushner moved to New York in 1974 to begin his undergraduate college education at Columbia University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Medieval Studies in 1978. He attended New York University's Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1984. During graduate school, he spent the summers of 1978-1981 directing both early original works (Masque of Owls and Incidents and Occurrences During the Travels of the Tailor Max) and plays by Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest) for the children attending the Governor's Program for Gifted Children (GPGC) in Lake Charles.
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 28, 2010: Mark Harris and husband Tony Kushner attend the 'Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia On National Themes' Opening Night Party at Pio Pio on October 28, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Tony Kushner is a playwright and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America. Kushner and Mark Harris, an editor of Entertainment Weekly and author of Pictures at a Revolution – Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, held a commitment ceremony in April 2003, the first same-sex commitment ceremony to be featured in the Vows column of the New York Times. In summer 2008 they were legally married at the city hall in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
In 2008 Kushner received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from SUNY Purchase College, and in May 2011 received an honorary doctorate from CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Kushner's best known work is Angels in America (a play in two parts: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika), a seven-hour epic about the AIDS epidemic in Reagan-era New York, which was later adapted into a miniseries for which Kushner wrote the screenplay. His other plays include Hydriotaphia, Slavs!: Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, A Bright Room Called Day, Homebody/Kabul, and the book for the musical Caroline, or Change. His new translation of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children was performed at the Delacorte Theater in the summer of 2006 starring Meryl Streep and directed by George C. Wolfe. Kushner has also adapted Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan, Corneille's The Illusion, and S. Ansky's play The Dybbuk.
In the early 2000s, Kushner began writing for film. His co-written screenplay Munich was produced and directed by Steven Spielberg in 2005. In January 2006, a documentary feature about Kushner entitled Wrestling With Angels debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was directed by Freida Lee Mock. In April 2011 it was announced that he is currently working with Spielberg again, writing the screenplay for an adaptation of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
Kushner is famous for frequent revisions and years-long gestations of his plays. Both Angels in America: Perestroika and Homebody/Kabul were significantly revised even after they were first published. Kushner has admitted that the original script version of Angels in America: Perestroika is nearly double the length of the theatrical version. His newest completed work, the play The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, began as a novel more than a decade ago.
I saw it as a multi-part (six-hour, I think) movie on HBO. I feel this is a genuine masterpiece in every sense of the word. The Kaddish for Roy Cohn is worth the price of admission all by itself (but only in full context). This one has everything. I just don’t know what else I can say. --Catherine Ryan Hyde
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner is a play that I have seen onstage; I’ve also seen the excellent film version by Mike Nichols. But what I love most about this sprawling work is the beauty of its writing, and to fully appreciate that you have to spend time with the book. Here is one of my favorite lines of dialogue, spoken by Harper, the young Mormon wife: “It's all a matter of the opposable thumb and forefinger; not of the hand, but of the heart; we grab hold like nobody's business and then we don't seem to be able to let go.” In a time when the AIDS epidemic in America was at its peak, “not letting go” were words to live by. --Wayne Courtois
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner is an absolutely audacious play cycle that is not just the best "gay" play ever written, but one of the best plays ever. A play about AIDS? There is, in fact, no better testament to the tragedy of the disease. But the work's transcendent themes are also about so much more. "The world only spins forward," a character says at one point, arguing that some progress is inevitable. Perhaps the play's greatest achievement is that it actually made me believe this, and gave me hope for the future of humankind. --Brent Hartinger
Tony Kushner with Karl Marx pillows - New York, N.Y, 1995, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1081969)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digital
Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Theatre Communications Group; First Edition edition (May 1, 1993)
Amazon: Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches
The most anticipated new American play of the decade, this brilliant work is an emotional, poetic, political epic in two parts: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. Spanning the years of the Reagan administration, it weaves the lives of fictional and historical characters into a feverish web of social, political, and sexual revelations.
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika by Tony Kushner
Paperback: 158 pages
Publisher: Theatre Communications Group (November 1, 1993)
Amazon: Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika
The second half of the author's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Angels in America, follows the characters introduced in Millennium Approaches into the 1990s as they continue to struggle with the ravages of AIDS. Original.
Essays on Kushner's Angels by Per Brask
Paperback: 154 pages
Publisher: Blizzard Publishing (September 1996)
Amazon: Essays on Kushner's Angels
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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