Tony Kushner's Family Values

Interview

Friday, May 06, 2011

Tony Kushner may be the most ambitious playwright of our age.  His Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America grappled with being gay, American politics, and the AIDS crisis.  And he continues to think big: his new play is called The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures.  It's swarming with outspoken, esoteric, funny characters who often talk over each other.  Yet at root, it's a family drama: three adult children are summoned back to Brooklyn by their father Gus, a lifelong Communist who has become deeply disappointed with the world.  Gus has decided he wants to kill himself, but insists his family vote on it.  

Kurt Andersen compares Tony Kushner to George Bernard Shaw — but Kushner says one of his literary heroes isn't a playwright, but a statesman: Abraham Lincoln.  "He was a miraculous human being... a 19th century literary genius," whose prose Kushner ranks alongside Whitman, Melville, and Dickinson.  Kushner is working on the upcoming Lincoln biopic directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

 

Related story: University Denies Tony Kushner Award Over Views on Israel

 

Slideshow: Scenes from The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures

Joan Marcus

The cast of The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, now playing at the Public Theater in New York.  Gus (left, Michael Cristofer) gathers his family to ask their permission to kill himself.

Joan Marcus

Gus (Michael Cristofer) and his daughter Empty (Linda Emond) find themselves at an impasse, neither willing to compromise their ideals.

Joan Marcus

Gus (left, Michael Cristofer) councils his eldest son Pill (right, Stephen Spinella), who has problems of his own.

Joan Marcus

Pill (left, Stephen Spinella) struggles to save his marriage to Paul (right, K. Todd Freeman).

    Music Playlist
  1. Secret Agent Man
    Artist: Johnny Pearson And His London ORchestra
    Album: More James Bond Movie Music
    Label: Legacy International
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Communist Friends
    Artist: Kaki King
    Album: Junior
    Label: Rounder / Umgd
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Tony Kushner

Comments [1]

Jon Erik Larson

As an Illinoisan, born in Kentucky with roots in Central Illinois, it seems to me unlikely (although because I admire all of Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Fields and Steven Spielberg) that this crew can produce a legitimate representation of the Lincoln who has lived in me since I was a boy. None of these folks is likely to have a clue as to the feel of Central Illinois, less desolate than Nebraska but more fearsome than Eastern Ohio. I do not believe that they can pull this off. After all, Henry Fonda, a Nebraskan, failed. So, how could this crew expect to do better?

May. 08 2011 10:38 PM

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