Kushner, Tony

Kushner, Tony

(ko͝osh`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 AIDSAIDS
or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,
fatal disease caused by a rapidly mutating retrovirus that attacks the immune system and leaves the victim vulnerable to infections, malignancies, and neurological disorders. It was first recognized as a disease in 1981.
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 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 CaseRosenberg Case,
in U.S. history, a lengthy and controversial espionage case. In 1950, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Julius Rosenberg (1918–53), an electrical engineer who had worked (1940–45) for the U.S.
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), disease, love, and death. The play was adapted into an Emmy-winning television drama (2002), directed by Mike NicholsNichols, Mike,
1931–2014, American actor and director, b. Berlin, Germany, as Mikhail Igor Peschkowsky. His family immigrated to the United States in 1939, and he studied (1950–53) at the Univ. of Chicago.
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. 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a Key to the Scriptures (2011), a family drama that explores, among other things, reactions to the collapse of faith in outdated belief systems and morality codes.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 SendakSendak, Maurice Bernard,
1928–2012, American writer and illustrator of children's books, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Largely self-taught, he was widely acclaimed as the 20th-century's most important childrens' book artist.
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 illustrated the book and designed the opera production. The two also collaborated on a version of MartinůMartinů, Bohuslav
, 1890–1959, Czech composer; studied at the Prague Conservatory. He played the violin (1918–23) in the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Martinů lived in Prague from 1907 to 1923, in Paris from 1923 to 1940 and, fleeing the Nazis, moved to the
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's 1937 opera Comedy on the Bridge. Kushner has also made contemporary translations of two plays by Bertolt BrechtBrecht, Bertolt
, 1898–1956, German dramatist and poet, b. Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht. His brilliant wit, his outspoken Marxism, and his revolutionary experiments in the theater made Brecht a vital and controversial force in modern drama.
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, 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).

References in periodicals archive ?
Kushner, Tony. Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches.