Staging Change

_(excerpted from original article)_
Kushner’s combination of exacting political analysis and broad artistic vision first earned him wide acclaim in 1993 and 1994 with his play _Angels In America_. That massive, two-evening epic about AIDS, Reaganism, illness and betrayal led to a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony awards, an upcoming HBO adaptation—and a lifetime supply of daunting expectations. Following the success of _Angels_, Kushner became America’s leading left-wing gay pundit, tapped by _Newsweek, The Nation, The New York Times_, and _The Advocate_ to hold forth on issues from homophobia to socialism. But his subsequent ventures on the dramatic front were comparatively diminutive: a slender rumination on the failures of Soviet Communism, an adaptation of Brecht’s _The Good Person of Sezuan_, and another of the Yiddish theater classic _The Dybbuk_. Some friends grew concerned that he was using essays and college speaking tours as ways to avoid writing another ambitious play.

Those worries were swept away in December 2001, when _Homebody/Kabul_, Kushner’s nearly four-hour journey through Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, opened at the New York Theater Workshop. Written over a five-year period, _Homebody/Kabul_ had the dubious fortune of opening scant months after the 9/11 attacks and Bush’s military campaign against the Taliban. It re-established Kushner as a playwright of determined political relevance and generous global sympathies. Today, Kushner’s plate is overflowing with projects. In addition to the anthology and his frequent anti-war stump speeches, he’s preparing a musical about his Louisiana childhood (_Caroline, or Change_) to open at the Public Theater in September, polishing off a substantial revision of _Homebody_, and writing a new play, _Only We Who Guard the Mystery Will Be Unhappy_, part of which was published in _The Nation_ this spring.

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