An evening with Tony Kushner: Syracuse University Lecture Series begins with renowned playwright

A Conversation with Tony Kushner Interview by Melanie Lustig

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner has a deep understanding of politics and his beliefs are as strong as his words. He proved this Tuesday night at Hendricks Chapel where he kicked off the 2013 University Lecture Series.

Moderated by the Director of University Lectures, Kal Alston, the night began with a clip from Lincoln for which Kushner wrote the screenplay. His works were used as the backdrop for a deeper political discussion throughout the evening. From tackling race and the government shutdown, to pointing out what Alston coined as “Kushnerian” aspects of his works, the evening was full of rich discussion.


His remarks toward conservative Americans were chosen wisely but were not surprising for anyone who has seen his Pulitzer Prize-winning play/HBO series Angels in America. In a discussion about this play, Kushner delved into his social activism side, explaining that he feels young Americans are not cynical about politics at all. His undeniable beliefs about the importance of liberal arts training vs. vocational training were also pointed out. He felt very strongly that one goes to college to learn knowledge not just skills.

The evening was brought to a close when Kushner was asked about universities and they’re role in democratizing practice and the arts. His response was that he is not affiliated with an institution so he couldn’t answer head-on but he felt that universities were incredibly important.

“Universities are really important batteries for the furthering of human decency and the future of the government.” Kushner said.

Laced with politics, Kushner’s discussion this evening took his writing to another level. This is a man who is unusually well versed in both citizenship and art. He gives his listeners/readers a better understanding of the world through both his writing and his presence.