Tony Kushner

From LitWiki
Tony Kushner

Major Works

  • Caroline, or Change, a libretto, produced, 2003.
  • Munich (co-authored by Eric Roth), the screenplay for the Academy Award nominated film directed by Steven Spielberg, 2005.


  • In Great Eliza’s Golden Time, a children’s play produced, 1986.
  • The Age of Assassins, a children’s play produced, 1986.
  • Yes, Yes, No, No, published in Plays in Process, 1987.
  • Stella, produced in New York, NY, 1987.
  • A Bright Room Called Day, produced in San Francisco, CA, 1987.
  • Hydriotaphia, produced in New York, NY, 1987.
  • The Illusion adapted from Pierre Corneille's play L'Illusion comique, produced in New York, NY, 1988.
  • Widows (with Ariel Dorfman), produced in Los Angeles, CA, 1991.
  • Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, Part One: Millennium Approaches , produced in San Francisco, 1991, Hern, 1992, Part Two: Perestroika, produced in New York, NY, 1992.
  • A Bright Room Called Day, Theatre Communications Group (New York, NY), 1994.
  • The Good Person of Szechuan, adapted from original play by Brecht, produced, 1994.
  • Slavs! Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness produced, 1994.
  • Angels in America (includes both parts; produced as two-part television film on Home Box Office, 2003), Theatre Communications Group (New York, NY), 1995.
  • A Dybbuk, or Between Two Worlds, adapted from a translation of the original play by S. Ansky produced, 1995.
  • Henry Box Brown, or the Mirror of Slavery, performed at Royal National Theatre,London, 1998.
  • Terminating, or Lass Meine Schmerzen Nicht Verloren Sein, or Ambivalence produced, 1998.
  • Homebody/Kabul produced, 1999.


Tony Kushner was born in Manhattan on July 16, 1956, the son of William and Sylvia (Deutscher) Kushner, both classically trained musicians who encouraged his budding interests in the arts and literature. Kushner spent most of his childhood in Lake Charles, Louisiana. His mother, an amateur actress, performed in local plays, and Kushner became entranced by the emotional power of the theater and the arts in general. Kushner moved to New York in 1974 to begin his undergraduate college education at Columbia University, where he completed a B.A. in English literature in 1978. While in college, he also immersed himself in the New York theater scene. Though aware of his sexual preference from an early age, Kushner attempted to overcome his homosexuality through psychotherapy. He eventually came to terms with his sexual orientation and opened his writing to homosexual themes. Following the completion of his degree at Columbia, Kushner worked as a switchboard operator at the United Nations Plaza Hotel from 1979 to 1985, during which time he also enrolled at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Trained as a director under the guidance of Bertolt Brecht specialist Carl Weber, Kushner wrote plays and directed them with his fellow students prior to completing his M.F.A. in directing in 1984. Some of these plays were also staged by the Imaginary Theatre Company at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis where Kushner worked as an assistant director (Wheatley 1).

Kushner came of age in an era of major changes in the American cultural landscape. Having come to terms in his late teens with his homosexuality, following some abortive efforts to find a "cure" for his sexual orientation, Kushner became inspired,in part, by the writers and artists emerging from the Stonewall generation and after. He was especially drawn to such organizations as ACT UP and Queer Nation, whose chant, "We're here, we're queer, we're fabulous," pervades his two Angels in America plays. As a gay man, Kushner also acknowledges some debt to gay dramatists Larry Kramer and Harvey Fierstein, but more directly significant to his development as a dramatist is his deep admiration for Tennessee Williams, the American dramatist who brought sexuality out of the theatrical closet. It is of central significance that Kushner identifies himself as a gay dramatist (Wheatley 2).

In 2003, Kushner married his boyfriend, Mark Harris and they were the first homosexual couple to be featured in the "Vows" column of the New York Times. Mark Harris is currently the Editor at Large of Entertainment Weekly magazine. Tony Kushner


  • In 1993 Angels in America, Millennium Approaches, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama, the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Play,and the New York Drama Critics Award for best play. Kushner won another Tony Award for best play in 1994 for the second part of Angels in America, Perestroika. Also in 1994, Kushner recieved an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Perestroika.
  • In 2004, Kushner won an Emmy for Outstanding writing of a mini series, movie or dramatic special for Angels in America.
  • In 2006, Kushner shared nominations for a Golden Globe and Academy Award with Eric Roth for best screenplay of Munich.
  • Kushner won a Writer's Guild Award in 2005 in the long film adapted category for Angels in America.


1979 to 1985: Switchboard operator at the United Nations Plaza Hotel in New York City.

1985 to 1986: Assistant Director of the St. Louis Repertory Theatre.

1987 to 1988: Artistic Director of the New York Theatre Workshop.

1989: Director of Literary Services for the Theatre Communications Group.

1996: Became permanent faculty member at New York University's Tisch School.

Additional Reading about the Author

Works Cited

  • Steyn, Mark, et al. Tony Kushner: Bloom's Modern Critical Views. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005.
  • Wheatley, Christopher J. "Tony Kushner," in Dictionary of Literary Biography,Volume 228: Twentieth-Century American Dramatists, Second Series. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book.

[Angels in America]