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April 27, 2005


Tony Kushner: Honored as Fellow, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences

On April 26, 2005, Tony Kushner, playwright and director, was named a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Born in Manhattan in 1956, Tony Kushner grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana where his family moved after inheriting a lumber business. He earned a bachelors degree from Columbia University and did postgraduate work at New York University.

In the early 1980s, he founded a theater group and began writing and producing plays. In the early 1990s, he scored an outstanding achievement with his epic Broadway production, "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes." The stage production earned Kushner a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, the Evening Standard Award, two Olivier Award Nominations, the New York Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and the LAMBDA Liberty Award for Drama.

The groundbreaking drama focused upon three households in turmoil: a gay couple, one of whom had AIDS; a Morman man coming to terms with his sexuality; and the vitriolic lawyer Roy Cohn, a historical figure who died of AIDS in 1986, denying his gay sexual identity all the way to his deathbed.

Kushner has also written "A Bright Room Called Day and Slavs!" (from material not used in Angels in America), as well as several adaptations including Goethe's "Stella," Brecht's "The Good Person of Setzuan," Corneille's "The Illusion," and S. Ansky's "The Dybbuk."

His works have been produced at The Mark Taper Forum, The New York Shakespeare Festival, The New York Theater Workshop, The Hartford Stage Company, The Berkeley Repertory Theater and The Los Angeles Theater Center, as well as in theaters in over 30 countries throughout the world.

He was the recipient of a 1990 Whiting Foundation Writers Award, as well as playwriting and directing fellowships from The New York Foundation for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts. Mr. Kushner is currently a faculty member of New York University's Dramatic Writing program.

The HBO motion picture adaptation of "Angels in America," brilliantly produced by Mike Nichols, won a stunning number of Golden Globe and Academy Awards.

Historical Note on Mike Nichols: The Compass Players (1955-1959) was an experimental/improv theater group founded in an old storefront-type building just off The University of Chicago campus. During that short period of time, it's theatrical alumni included, among many others, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Alan Alda, Alan Arkin, Ed Asner, Barbara Harris, Valerie Harper, Shelley Berman and Paul Mazursky.

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