Tony Kushner is the author of "Angels in America," a two-part play inspired by the tragic rise of the AIDS epidemic. "Angels" debuted on Broadway in 1993, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony award for Best Play that same year.
Seattle’s Intiman Theatre will be staging a production of "Angels" this summer, opening August 12.
Kushner spoke with writer, editor and It Gets Better project co-founder Dan Savage at Town Hall Seattle on May 10.
The play is set in New York in 1985; an especially dark time in the crisis. Since the first diagnoses of cases in 1980, gay men had become the target of harassment and discrimination. The Reverend Jerry Falwell called AIDS “the wrath of God upon homosexuals.” Then White House Communications Director Pat Buchanan later called it “nature’s revenge on gay men.”
President Reagan's Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, said that during his first four years in office he was prevented from addressing AIDS for political reasons. It was not until May of 1987, near the end of his second term, that Reagan publicly addressed the epidemic.
By the end of that year over 40,000 Americans had died of the disease. By 1990, a million Americans had been infected.
Kushner is best known for "Angels," but has gone on to earn acclaim as a screenwriter. His screenplay for the film "Lincoln" was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. That same year he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the U.S. government.
His latest play is "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures."