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Tony Kushner

Angels in Performance: Documenting LGBTQ Lives in Theatre and Performance

April 24, 2013

Born in New York City in 1956, and raised in Lake Charles, La., Kushner is best known for his two-part epic, Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, which won both a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 and has been developed as an Emmy Award-winning TV miniseries and an opera. In addition to the plays mentioned above, Kushner has written the book and lyrics for the Tony Award-winning musical Caroline, or Change and translated and adapted Pierre Corneille’s The Illusion; S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk; 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 screenwriting career and awards include the Mike Nichols film, Angels in America; Steven Spielberg’s Munich (Academy Award, Golden Globe, 2005), as well as Spielberg’s movie Lincoln(Academy Award, Golden Globe, 2012) His books include But the Giraffe, a Curtain Raising, and Brundibar: the Libretto, with illustrations by Maurice Sendak; 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.  His latest work includes a collection of one-act plays entitledTiny Kushner (Fall 2009),  featuring characters such as Laura Bush, Nixon’s analyst, the queen of Albania and a number of tax evaders, and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (New York premiere, May 2011).

In addition to his numerous awards for his plays and screenplays, Kushner is the recipient of 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, among many others.  In September 2008, Tony Kushner became the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, the largest theater award in the U.S.  He was also awarded the 2009 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement.  He is the subject of a documentary film, Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner, made by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock.  Kushner lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.