Past Honorees

At Central Synagogue

Tony Kushner
2010 Playwright

Born in New York City in 1956 and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Tony Kushner is best known for his two-part epic, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. His other plays include A Bright Room Called Day, Slavs!, Hydriotaphia, Homebody/Kabul, and Caroline, or Change, the musical for which he wrote the book and lyrics with music by composer Jeanine Tesori.

Kushner has translated and adapted Pierre Corneille’s The Illusion, S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk, Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Sezuan and Mother Courage and Her Children, and the English-language libretto for the children’s opera Brundibár by Hans Krasa.

He wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’s film of Angels in America and Steven Spielberg’s Munich. His books include Brundibár with illustrations by Maurice Sendak, The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to the Present, and Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon.

His latest work includes a collection of one-act plays entitled Tiny Kushner, featuring characters such as Laura Bush, Richard Nixon’s analyst, the queen of Albania, and a number of tax evaders, and The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism & Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures (which will premiere in New York City in 2011).

An off-Broadway revival of Angels in America is currently in previews at the Signature Theater in New York and will open at the end of October 2010.

Among other accolades, Kushner is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, an Oscar nomination, an Arts Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels Award for a Mid-Career Playwright, a Spirit of Justice Award from the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and a Cultural Achievement Award from The National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

In 2008, Kushner was the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. He was also awarded the 2009 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize for lifetime achievement. He is the subject of a documentary film, Wrestling with Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner, made by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock.

Kushner lives in Manhattan with his husband, Mark Harris.