Thursday, November 11, 2004

Kushner in Khicago

Tony Kushner, author of the acclaimed play-then-HBO miniseries Angels in America visited the Windy City last night, with a rather intellectual conversation for what I'm sure was a somewhat baffled audience in the lovely Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Library. The event was sponsored by Nextbook, which is dedicated to promoting Jewish culture to the public, and the mediator was a professor of Yiddish at Columbia, but Kushner did his best to focus his conversation not just on Judaism but also on how he as an agnostic (!) feels about America and American secularism.

I think his efforts slightly dispelled the nachus that was originally projected his way, but not as much as one might expect, which says a lot for the crowd. There was no small amount of Bush-bashing, I need hardly add.

In any case, Kushner had some interesting comments on his work, on writing, and politics, and he went out of his way to have a conversation with everyone in the bookline. He's a really nice guy.

"Being Jewish taught me how to be gay" he said in response to my question about his comfort making parallels between the Jews as a minority and homosexuals as a minority. And he turned a Marxist corner that I hadn't expected, but should have, talking about how the "oppressed must stand together."

And, he confided later, he tried to get into the U of C, but he got rejected. So there you have it. A brilliant man, with brilliant works that ooze with the play of ideas and politics, and we didn't let him come play in our intellectual sandbox. Shame.

Still, if you have the time, read one of his plays, or better, check out Angels in America on DVD. It is, after all, a gay fantasia!

1 comment:

Molly said...

U R such a kool speller! but seriously.