Tony Kushner Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Choose three characters in Tony Kushner’s works that suffer loss and explain how each deals with this crisis.

What characteristics or issues do Kushner’s female characters have in common?

How close is Kushner’s portrait of Roy Cohn in Angels in America to the actual historical personage?

How does Kushner use comedy to make painful parts of his plays more palatable?

Does the music for Caroline, or Change enhance Kushner’s text and lyrics? If so, how?

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Tony Kushner is primarily known for his plays, although he has written a children’s book, Brundibar (2002), and his thoughts are collected in Tony Kushner in Conversation (1998), edited by Robert Vorlicky.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Tony Kushner won directing fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1985, 1987, and 1993. He received a playwriting fellowship from the New York State Council for the Arts in 1987. Kushner won the John Whiting Award from the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1990. Kushner’s other awards include the Kennedy Center/ American Express New American Play Award in 1992 and the Will Glickham playwriting prize in 1992. Angels in America earned Kushner a Pulitzer Prize , two Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, the Evening Standard Award, two Laurence Olivier Award Nominations, the New York Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, and the Lambda Liberty Award for Drama. In 1998, London’s National Theatre selected Angels in America as one of the ten best plays of the twentieth century. Kushner’s plays have been produced in more than thirty countries around the world and at the Mark Taper Forum, the New York Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, Hartford Stage Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and the Los Angeles Theatre Center.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Brask, Per, ed. Essays on Kushner’s Angels. Winnipeg, Man.: Blizzard, 1995. An international collection of commentary on Angels in America, focusing on the reception of the play outside the United States.

Felman, Jyl Lynn. “Lost Jewish (Male) Souls: A Midrash on Angels in America.” Tikkun 10, no. 3 (May, 1995): 27-30.

Fisher, James. The Theater of Tony Kushner. New York: Routledge, 2002. Fisher, a professor who has directed Kushner’s work, surveys the playwright’s career.

Fisher, James, ed. Tony Kushner: New Essays on the Art and Politics of the Plays. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2006. Especially interesting for its contextualizing of the plays historically, culturally, and critically.

Geis, Deborah R., and Stephen F. Kruger. Approaching the Millennium: Essays on “Angels in America.” Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997. An academic collection, this volume brings together eighteen essays on the two parts of Angels in America.

Kushner, Tony. Interview by David Savran. In Speaking on Stage: Interviews with Contemporary American Playwrights, edited by Philip C. Kolin and Colby H. Kullman. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995.

Osborn, M. Elizabeth, Terrence McNally, and Lanford Wilson. The Way We Live Now: American Plays and the AIDS Crisis. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1990. Plays by a variety of contemporary playwrights including Susan Sontag, Harvey Fierstein, and Kushner demonstrate how the performing arts community has been devastated by the AIDS crisis.

Vorlicky, Robert, ed. Tony Kushner in Conversation (Triangulations). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997. Vorlicky assembles twenty-two interviews with Kushner, on a variety of political and artistic themes.