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Tony Kushner pays visit to Piper Center


November 02, 2007

He’s perhaps best known for his epic play “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” which runs seven hours in two parts and won 11 major awards.

Tony Kushner will discuss his work at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 3, in the Mesa/Flagstaff Ballroom of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, located at 2400 E. Missouri Ave. in Phoenix. A book-signing will follow.

The reading is sponsored by ASU’s Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Tickets are $10, or $5 for students. Seating is limited, so advance purchase is recommended. Tickets can be reserved by calling (480) 965-6018.

Kushner, born in Manhattan in 1956, grew up in Lake Charles, La. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and did graduate work at New York University.

In the early 1980s, he founded a theater group and began writing and producing plays. “Angels in America,” which he wrote in the early 1990s, focuses on three households in turmoil: a gay couple, one of whom has AIDS; a Mormon man coming to terms with his sexuality; and the infamous lawyer Roy Cohn, a historical figure who died of AIDS in 1986, denying his homosexuality all the way to his deathbed.

Other plays by Kushner include “A Bright Room Called Day” and “Slavs!” His work has been produced at the Mark Taper Forum, the New York Shakespeare Festival, the New York Theatre Workshop, the Los Angeles Theatre Center and theaters around the globe.

In an interview published in Mother Jones, Kushner was asked if he thought his work was political. He replied, “I do. I would hate to write anything that wasn’t. I would like my plays to be of use to progressive people. I think preaching to the converted is exactly what art ought to do.”

Kushner, who is an adjunct faculty member in the dramatic writing program at NYU, said he always tells his students that they should “assume that the audience you’re writing for is smarter than you. You can’t write if you don’t think they’re on your side, because then you start to yell at them or preach down to them.”

For more information about the reading, contact Tom McDermott at (480) 727-0818.