Harman Writer-In-Residence, Spring 1999
Tony Kushner, the celebrated American playwright, was the spring 1999 Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College. Mr. Kushner is the author of many plays, including A Bright Room Called Day; Hydriotaphia; Angels in America, Parts One and Two; and Slavs!, as well as adaptations of Corneille’s The Illusion, Ansky’s The Dybbuk, and Goethe’s Stella. Other projects have included two musical plays, St. Cecilia or The Power of Music and It’s An Undoing World, in collaboration with The Klezmatics; an opera libretto, Caroline, or Change, for Bobby McFerrin and the San Francisco Opera; and the play Henry Box Brown or The Mirror of Slavery.
Mr. Kushner has received a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, two Tony Awards, an Obie Award, and a Whiting Fellowship, among other awards. A collection of his interviews, Tony Kushner in Conversation, was published by University of Michigan Press, and a collection of his essays, Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, is available from TCG Press. He was raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and lives in New York City.
During his March 1999 residency at Baruch, Mr. Kushner discussed the theme of political theatre and presented a College-wide reading from a work-in-progress. (December 1998)
Tony Kushner recent plays include Homebody/Kabul, first performed in New York in 2001; Helen, produced at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 2002; Only We Who Guard The Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, in 2003; a translated version of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children in 2006; and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, produced in Minneapolis in 2009. A new collection of one-act plays, entitled Tiny Kushner will premiere in fall 2009.
Other projects include the books Brundibar; The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present; Save Your Democratic Citizen Soul!: Rants, Screeds, and Other Public Utterances; and Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, all published in 2003.
In 2008, he became the first recipient of the ‘Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award,’ a newly established prominent theater award. Mr. Kushner has also been nominated for an Oscar for his work on the screenplay of the film Munich (2005), directed by Steven Spielberg. He has received a total of three Obie Awards, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and a Cultural Achievement Award from The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and many others. Caroline or Change, produced in 2006 at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, received the Evening Standard Award, the London Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the Olivier Award for Best Musical.
Mr. Kushner is at work on a screenplay about Abraham Lincoln. He is the subject of a documentary film, Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner (2006), made by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock. (June 2009)
“The terms of the national debate have subtly, insidiously shifted. What used to be called liberal is now called radical; what used to be called radical is now called insane. What used to be called reactionary is now called moderate, and what used to be called insane is now called solid conservative thinking.”
— American Things