Tony Kushner's Family Values

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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

Music Playlist

  1. Secret Agent Man

    Artist: Johnny Pearson And His London ORchestra
    Album: More James Bond Movie Music
    Label: Legacy International
  2. Communist Friends

    Artist: Kaki King
    Album: Junior
    Label: Rounder / Umgd

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).

( Joan Marcus )