The Great Work Begins.
Tony Kushner is a playwright, screenwriter, and author. If you are not familiar with his work, then I highly recommend you dive into one of his plays. His two-part play, Angels In America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, is regarded as one of the best contemporary American plays. Kushner even won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for Angels in America.
Angels in America is a seven-hour two-part play: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika. It is about the outbreak of AIDS in New York during Regan’s presidency and originally premiered on Broadway in 1993, but was recently brought back to Broadway in 2018.
In the recent production, Andrew Garfield played the leading role of Prior Walter, Nathan Lane portrayed real-life villainous lawyer Roy Cohn, and both won Tony Awards for their portrayal. If you are looking for a way to watch Angels in America right now, you are in luck because it was also turned into an HBO miniseries and Kushner wrote the script for it.
Aside from Angels in America, Tony Kushner also wrote other plays like, A Bright Room Called Day, Homebody/Kabul, Slavs!: Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, Hydriotaphia, as well as the book for the musical Caroline, or Change.
Tony Kushner also began writing for film in the early 2000s. In 2005, he co-wrote the screenplay for Munich which was directed by Steven Spielberg. In 2008, he worked with Spielberg again and wrote the screenplay for Lincoln, which was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and The Oscars and the Golden Globes.
In 2016, he helped write the screenplay adaptation for the play Fences by August Wilson and worked alongside director Denzel Washington. In 2018, it was said that Tony Kushner would reunite with director Steven Spielberg to write the screenplay for West Side Story.
It seems as if Tony Kushner is always writing, but what makes him unique is that he is always re-writing. When Angels in America was revived on Broadway in 2018, he was still making significant changes to the script even during its run. Now, his play that he wrote in 1985, A Bright Room Called Day, is currently off-broadway at the Public Theatre and he is still revising it. Every night, the actors have someone off-stage to be on book for them because of how often Kushner is giving the cast a revised script.
If you want to feel even more inspired by how talented Tony Kushner is, take a look at these insightful lines and powerful Tony Kushner life quotes about heartbreak and love from his plays.
1. Love will take you places.
“You’ll find, my friend, that what you love will take you places you never dreamed you’d go.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
2. When your heart breaks.
“I don’t understand why I’m not dead. When your heart breaks, you should die” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
3. Life is confusing enough.
“I wish you would be more true to your demographic profile. Life is confusing enough.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
4. There is a kind of painful progress.
“In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
5. Justice precedes beauty.
“Justice precedes beauty. Without justice, beauty is impossible, an obscenity. And when beauty has gone, what does a cameraman do with his eye?” — Tony Kushner, A Bright Room Called Day
6. You have a good heart.
“You have a good heart and you think the good thing is to be guilty and kind but it’s not always kind to be gentle and soft, there’s a genuine violence softness and kindness visit on people. Sometimes self-interested is the most generous thing you can be. ” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
7. Bless me anyway.
“I’ve lived through such terrible times and there are people who live through much worse. But you see them living anyway. When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned and in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children – they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die, but I recognize the habit; the addiction to being alive. So we live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough. It’s so inadequate. But still bless me anyway. I want more life.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
8. The great work begins.
“We won’t die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come. Bye now. You are fabulous creatures, each and every one. And I bless you: More Life. The Great Work Begins.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
9. The feeling of your heart.
“Something hot moved through me that day, up through the ribs of the corset – it was my heart. I remember that.” — Tony Kushner, A Bright Room Called Day
10. Living in America is hard enough.
“I hate America. I hate this country. It’s just big ideas, and stories, and people dying, and people like you. The white cracker who wrote the national anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word ‘free’ to a note so high nobody can reach it. That was deliberate. Nothing on earth sounds less like freedom to me. You come to room 1013 over at the hospital, I’ll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean. I live in America, that’s hard enough, I don’t have to love it. You do that. Everybody’s got to love something.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
11. One seldom gets what one wants.
“One wants to move through life with elegance and grace, blossoming infrequently but with exquisite taste, and perfect timing, like a rare bloom, a zebra orchid… One wants… But one so seldom gets what one wants, does one?” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
12. Losing your mind is hard work.
“I never imagined losing my mind was going to be such hard work.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
13. Only you love me.
“I don’t know what will happen to me without you. Only you. Only you love me. Out of everyone in the world.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
14. Appreciate your body.
“The body is the garden of the soul.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
15. You’re a battered heart.
“You’re a battered heart, bleeding life in the universe of wounds.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
16. Where love and justice finally meet.
“A queen can forgive her vanquished foe. It isn’t easy, it doesn’t count if it’s easy, it’s the hardest thing. Forgiveness. Which is maybe where love and justice finally meet. Peace, at least. Isn’t that what the Kaddish asks for?” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Revised and Complete Edition
17. Have a theory.
“You can’t live in the world without an idea of the world, but it’s living that makes the ideas. You can’t wait for a theory, but you have to have a theory.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
18. Keep moving.
“It’s the price of rootlessness. Motion sickness. The only cure: to keep moving.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
19. The great question before us.
“The Great Question before us is: Are we doomed? The Great Question before us is: Will the Past release us? The Great Question before us is: Can we Change? In Time? And we all desire that Change will come.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
20. Nothing good happens there.
“Nothing good happens in Washington.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
21. The most inner part of you.
“Deep inside you, there’s a part of you, the most inner part, entirely free of disease. I can see that.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
22. It can be hard to accept how disappointing life is.
“It can be very hard to accept how disappointing life is, Harper, because that’s what it is, and you have to accept it. With faith and time and hard work you reach a point where … where the disappointment doesn’t hurt as much, and then it gets easy to live with. Quite easy. Which … is in its own way a disappointment.” — Tony kushner, Angels in America
23. She would still have loved him.
“And if he had returned mutilated, ugly, full of infection and horror, she would still have loved him; fed by pity, by a sharing of pain, she would love him even more, and even more, and she would never, never have prayed to God, please let him die if he can’t return to me whole and healthy and able to live a normal life . . . If he had died, she would have buried her heart with him. So what the fuck is the matter with me?” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Revised and Complete Edition
24. Worse things have happened.
“I think, if you touch me, your hand might fall off or something. Worse things have happened to people who have touched me.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
25. America doesn’t exist.
“You do not live in America. No such place exists.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
26. All I know.
“Oh you only think you know all I know. I don’t even know what all I know. Half the time I just make it up, and it still turns out to be true! We learned that trick in the fifties. Tomorrow,” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Revised and Complete Edition
27. Don’t be afraid.
“Don’t be afraid; people are so afraid; don’t be afraid to live in the raw wind, naked, alone…Learn at least this: What you are capable of. Let nothing stand in your way.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
28. Love is a rose that smells faintly of blood.
“Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood.” — Tony Kushner, The Illusion
29. Shed your skin.
“I just wondered what a thing it would be…if overnight everything you owe anything to, justice, or love, had really gone away. Free. It would be…heartless terror. Yes. Terrible, and…very great. To shed your skin, every old skin, one by one and then walk away, unemcumbered, into the morning.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
30. Imagination can’t create anything new.
“Imagination can’t create anything new, can it? It only recycles bits and pieces from the world and reassembles them into visions… So when we thing we’ve escaped the unbearable ordinariness and, well, untruthfulness of our lives, it’s really only the same old ordinariness and falseness rearranged into the appearance of novelty and truth. Nothing unknown is knowable. Don’t you think it’s depressing?” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
31. Don’t trust artists.
“People shouldn’t trust artists and they shouldn’t trust art. Part of the fun of art is that it invites you to interpret it.” — Tony Kushner
32. There’s a power in theatre.
“I feel there’s a power in theatre, but it’s an indirect power. It’s like the relationship of the sleeper to the unconscious. You discover things you can’t afford to countenance in waking life. You can forget them, remember them a day later or not have any idea what they are about.” — Tony Kushner
33. The smallest indivisible human unit is two people.
“The smallest indivisible human unit is two people, not one; one is a fiction. From such nets of souls societies, the social world, human life springs.” — Tony Kushner
34. Be truly fabulous.
“The fabulous is not delineated by age or beauty. It is raw materials reworked into illusion. To be truly fabulous, one must completely triumph over tragedy, age, and physical insufficiencies. The fabulous is the rapturous embrace of difference, the discovering of self not in that which has rejected you but in that which makes you unlike, the dislike, the other.” — Tony Kushner
35. You can’t despise your whole life.
“My whole life has conspired to bring me to this place, and I can’t despise my whole life.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
36. You can’t not lose.
“The angel is…a beautiful man, with golden hair and wings, of course. I still dream about it. Many nights. I’m…It’s me. In that struggle. Fierce, and unfair. The angel is not human, and it holds nothing back, so how could anyone human win, what kind of a fight is that? It’s not just. Losing means your soul thrown down in the dust, your heart torn out from God’s. But you can’t not lose.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
37. God likes me.
“I’m not religious, but I like God and he likes me.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
38. The imagining of a better world.
“The dreams of the left are always beautiful – the imagining of a better world, the damnation of the present one. This faith, this luminescent anger – these are worthy of being called human. These are the Beautiful that an age produces.” — Tony Kushner
39. Like a nail through your chest.
“I try to tighten my heart into a knot, a snarl, I try to learn to live dead, just numb, but then I see someone I want, and it’s like a nail, like a hot spike right through my chest, and I know I’m losing.” — Tony Kushner, Angels in America
40. Don’t linger between might and do.
“We all romp about, grieving, wondering, but with rare exception we mostly remain suspended in the Rhetorical Colloidal Forever that agglutinates between Might and Do.” — Tony Kushner, Homebody/Kabul