Tony Kushner quotes

  • As a playwright, you are a torturer of actors and of the audience as well. You inflict things on people.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #People #Actors #Wells

  • Theatre for a New Audience is one of America's most admirable and exciting theatre companites...some of the best acted and directed work to be found on American stages, engaging with the canon of world dramatic literature in a vigorous way.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #America #Theatre #Literature

  • I make my living now as a screenwriter! Which I’m surprised and horrified to find myself saying, but I don’t think I can support myself as a playwright at this point. I don’t think anybody does.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Thinking #Support #Doe

  • 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

    #Art #Fun #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

    #Spring #Two #People

  • There's a kind of a fundamental irresponsibility in playwriting, and the strength of playwriting comes from that irresponsibility.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Fundamentals #Kind #Playwriting

  • 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

    #Wind #People #Way

  • In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Dream #Progress #World

  • It's the fear of what comes after the doing that makes the doing hard to do.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Wisdom

  • You learn that existence is legible but that you have to have a critical mind if you're going to read it.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Mind #Existence #Critical

  • We can't just stop. We're not rocks-progress, migration, motion is... modernity. It's ANIMATE, it's what living things do. We desire. Even if all we desire is stillness, it's still desire for...
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Rocks #Progress #Desire

  • Accuracy is paramount in every detail of a work of history. Here's my rule: Ask yourself, 'Did this thing happen?' If the answer is yes, then it's historical. Then ask, 'Did this thing happen precisely this way?' If the answer is yes, then it's history; if the answer is no, not precisely this way, then it's historical drama.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Drama #Historical #Answers

  • But I still read Shaw on a regular basis. What I love is the nakedness of the polemic and the irresistible good humour. For me, 'Major Barbara' is the greatest of all the plays in that it starts from the rational and proceeds to the ecstatic in a spectacular way, and leaves you very confused if you cling to Euclidean logic.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Confused #Love Is #Play

  • But I think what made me go into theater was seeing my mother onstage. The first thing she did was Mrs. Frank in 'The Diary of Anne Frank.' The second thing she did was a play about Freud called 'The Far Country.' She played a paralyzed woman in Vienna who goes to see Freud.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Mother #Country #Thinking

  • I go into any movie that's historical fiction thinking, 'OK, I'm here to watch a work of art, something delivering a series of opinions, and if it's a good work of art, these opinions become so deeply embedded in complexity and richness that I won't even be bothered by the opinions. I'll make my own mind up.'
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Art #Thinking #Historical

  • Gay TV has been immensely important in transforming American culture in a more gay-positive direction.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Gay #Important #Tvs

  • I grew up in a small Southern town, and there were white people and black people. Coming to New York to go to Columbia, every time I went into the subway I was absolutely astounded because you see people from all over the world who actually live here - who aren't just here as tourists.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #New York #White #People

  • I had a dream, in 1985, I believe, when a friend I'd gone to school with was sick - one of the first people I knew who'd gotten the AIDS virus. I had a dream of him in his bedroom with an angel crashing through the ceiling. I wrote a poem called 'Angels in America.' I've never looked at the poem since the day I wrote it.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Dream #Believe #School

  • You have to have hope. It's irresponsible to give false hope, which I think a lot of playwrights are guilty of. But I also think it's irresponsible to simply be a nihilist, which quite a lot of playwrights, especially playwrights younger than me, have become guilty of.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Thinking #Giving #Guilty

  • A handful of works in history have had a direct impact on social policy: one or two works of Dickens, some of Zola, 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' and, in modern drama, Larry Kramer's 'The Normal Heart.'
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Uncles #Drama #Heart

  • You don't go to the movies to do historical research, unless it's historical research about the movies.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Historical #Research #Historical Research

  • I don't feel, finally, that my politics are entirely determined by the fact that I'm a gay man.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Gay #Men #Facts

  • I tend to be sort of quiet and shy and awkward in social situations.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Awkward #Shy #Quiet

  • God knows I've had productions where there were actors in my plays who were making more money per week than I was.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Play #Actors #Week

  • Artists know that diligence counts as much, if not more, as inspiration; in art, as in politics, patience counts as much as revolution.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Art #Inspiration #Revolution

  • A play should have barely been rescued from the mess it might just as easily have been.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Play #Might #Should

  • I love reading; it's a great way to avoid writing.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Reading #Writing #Way

  • You have a strange relationship with calamity when you're a writer: you write about it; as an artist, you objectify and fetishize it. You render life into material, and that's a creepy thing to do.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #Artist #Creepy

  • If you have value as an artist it's probably going to be in your capacity to let things inside you get past things that are placed there to keep you from telling the truth. The more you see things as clearly and coldly as you can, the more value you're going to have.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Artist #Past #Telling The Truth

  • I work best after the deadline has passed, when I'm in a panic.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Panic #Deadline

  • There's a way in which 'The Illusion' is a play about the theater.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Play #Way #Illusion

  • Theater really gets damaged when there is a paucity of good criticism around.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Criticism #Theater

  • The work of artists is to find what's humanly possible - possibility's furthest reaches.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Artist #Possibility

  • Unions are susceptible to the same ills that befall all human societies.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Unions #Humans

  • The computer, the noise of the computer feels like impatience. It's sort of the sound of impatience to me.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Noise #Sound #Computer

  • It has always seemed to me that Barack Obama has studied intensely and learned a great deal from Lincoln.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Deals #Barack

  • Gay writers now have both a sense of history and the fables that allows them to dwell in the realms of the ridiculous and at the same time talk seriously about things.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Gay #Fables #Ridiculous

  • 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

    #Ideas #Theatre #Waking

  • I find writing very difficult. It's hard and it hurts sometimes, and it's scary because of the fear of failure and the very unpleasant feeling that you may have reached the limit of your abilities.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Hurt #Writing #Scary

  • Broadway remains the closest thing we have to a national theatre, the place where the greatest number of people can potentially see new work. For an American playwright to say it doesn't matter is simply to capitulate to the current situation.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Numbers #People #Theatre

  • The fear of a work becoming dated is one of the most effective tools for keeping people from writing political work.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #People #Political

  • The kind of theater that I do is sort of 'narrative realism,' which I think in the broadest sense is legitimate to say is mainstream. I mean, in a certain sense, Suzan-Lori's plays have had mainstream levels of success. But Suzan-Lori is in some ways not a narrative realist.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Mean #Thinking #Play

  • 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

    #Eye #Justice #Gone

  • Trying every day to tell the truth is hard. There are harder things, of course-arguably, living with lies and meaninglessness, living in despair is harder, but it's hardship disguised as luxury and easier perhaps to grow accustomed to, since truth is usually the enemy of custom. There are harder things than writing, being President Obama, for instance, and having to deal with House Republicans, or trying to fix the leak at the Fukushima reactor, these are harder, but writing is hard.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Lying #Writing #Luxury

  • 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

    #Grieving #Forever #Might

  • One of the things I learned in 'Slavs!' is that it's much easier to talk about being gay than it is to talk about being a socialist. People are afraid of socialism, and plays that deal with economics are scarier to them.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Gay #Play #People

  • Who knows better than artists how much ugliness there is on the way to beauty, how many ghastly, mortifying missteps, how many days of granitic blockheadedness and dismaying ineptitude there is on the way to accomplishment, how partial all accomplishment is, how incomplete?
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Artist #Accomplishment #Ineptitude

  • I write everything with fountain pens. I don't know why. I've done it since I was bar mitzvahed. I was given a fountain pen, a Parker fountain pen, and I loved it, and I've never liked writing anything with pencils or ball-points.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #Bars #Balls

  • The way you give love is the most profoundly human part of you. When people say it's ugly or a perversion or an abomination, they're attacking the center of your being.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Love Is #People #Giving

  • The big influence on me was Robert Altman, who, especially in 'Nashville,' transformed my sense of dramatic structure and showed how you could handle overlapping stories.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Nashville #Stories #Influence

  • So I think I'll say the obvious thing: theater is ephemeral. When a production is done, it's gone forever. You can take pictures of it. You can make a film of it. But it's not the production. It's not the same thing.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Thinking #Forever #Done

  • When I teach writing, I always tell my students you should assume that the audience you're writing for is smarter than you. You can't write if you don't think they're on your side, because then you start to yell at them or preach down to them.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #Thinking #Your Side

  • The act of thinking and interpreting is so central to Judaism that it makes more sense that we've become people like Woody Allen - thinkers and talkers and drafters of law.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Thinking #Law #People

  • When I'm writing a new play, there's a period where I know I shouldn't be out in public much. I imagine most people who create go through something like this. You willfully loosen some of the inner straps that hold your core together.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #Play #People

  • The general consensus among historians, among the ones who can handle the fact that 'Lincoln' is, in fact, historical fiction, is that we demonstrate enormous fidelity to history and that, beyond that, we've actually contributed a line of thinking about Lincoln's presidency that's somewhat original.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Thinking #Historical #Fiction

  • I don't write political plays in the sense that I'm writing essays that are kind of disguised as plays. I would really defy anyone to watch any of my plays and say 'Well, here's the point.'
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #Play #Political

  • I think I'll always be a better playwright than a pundit, but I believe that writers should be public intellectuals and that theater, even more than film, is a place of public debate.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Believe #Thinking #Film

  • I'm a sort of political person, and I feel that there's a kind of ineradicably political dimension to theater, to all theater, whether it's overtly political or not.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Political #Dimensions #Kind

  • I write plays and movies, I live and work at the borderline between word and image just as any cartoonist or illustrator does. I'm not a pure writer. I use words as the score for kinetic imagistic representations.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #Play #Doe

  • I'm happy that I feel a little less out of place in filmmaking than I once was - but it's almost impossible for a playwright in the U.S. to make a living. You can have a play, like I did with 'Angels,' and it still generates income for me, but it's not enough for me to live on and have health insurance.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Angel #Play #Littles

  • If you're gay and you can't hold hands, or you're black and you can't catch a taxi, or you're a woman and you can't go into the park, you are aware there's a menace. That's costly on a psychic level. The world should be striving to make all its members secure.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Gay #Hands #Psychics

  • Respect the delicate ecology of your delusions.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Ecology #Delusion #Delicate

  • In a way, film and television are in the same sort of traumatic trance that print journalism is. The technology has outpaced our comprehension of its implications.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Technology #Television #Way

  • 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

    #Country #Crazy #Hate

  • 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

    #Depressing #Thinking #Imagination

  • 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

    #Morning #Justice #Heartless

  • 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

    #Kindness #Heart #Thinking

  • The white cracker who wrote the National Anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word "free" to a note so high nobody could reach it. That was deliberate.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #White #Anthem #Crackers

  • 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

    #Zebras #Moving #Orchids

  • 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

    #Lying #Love Is #Blood

  • There are no gods here, no ghosts and spirits in America, there are no angels in America, no spiritual past, no racial past, there's only the political, and the decoys and the ploys to maneuver around the inescapable battle of politics.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Spiritual #Angel #Past

  • The body is the garden of the soul.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Garden #Soul #Body

  • I don't understand why I'm not dead. When your heart breaks, you should die
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Heart #Heart Break #Break

  • Torture yourself about your failures. And then get back to work.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Writing #Back To Work #Torture

  • The primary thing I should do, apart from being a good husband, brother, son, and friend, is to be a citizen activist. But I'm afraid it takes away from the writing. Not that anything depends on whether I put an essay in 'The Nation' or not. But you want to participate.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Brother #Husband #Writing

  • The theater requires an essential gullibility that you can't get through life without having. If all you can feel is skepticism-well , you meet people like this. Run away from them. They're not good people.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Running #People #Essentials

  • My whole life has conspired to bring me to this place, and I can’t despise my whole life.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Despise #Whole Life

  • 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.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Justice #Easy #Hardest

  • Nothing's lost forever.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Forever #Lost

  • If you [c]annot find your [h]eart's desire in your own backyard, you never lost it to begin with
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Desire #Backyards #Lost

  • Real love isn't ever ambivalent,
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Real #Real Love #Love Is

  • 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

    #Bye #Secret #World

  • One has to have a complicated kind of optimism. You can't refuse to look at how horrible things are.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Optimism #Looks #Kind

  • I've always been drawn to writing historical characters. The best stories are the ones you find in history.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Character #Writing #Historical

  • As much as I hate his movies, Oliver Stone has an aspiration I admire, and that is that he wants his art to be part of what makes and changes public policy and cultural practice.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Art #Hate #Practice

  • And I don't consider Broadway the acropolis of theatrical art. I mean Broadway is commercial - that's what it is. It's expensive seats and a lot of them that have to be filled every night. Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway, as far as I'm concerned, is in New York the pride of New York theater.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Art #New York #Mean

  • I could give you absolutely sterling advice on how to avoid writing, how when you run out of things to do other than going to your desk and writing, when every closet is reorganized and you've called your oldest living relative twice in one day to see what she's up to and there isn't an unanswered e-mail left on your computer or you simply can't bear to answer another one and there is no dignity, not a drop left, in any further evasion of the task at hand, namely writing, well, you can always ask your dentist for a root canal or have an accident in the bathtub instead.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Running #Writing #Hands

  • I wish you would be more true to your demographic profile. Life is confusing enough.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Confusing #Wish #Would Be

  • 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

    #Beautiful #Dream #Age

  • I'm not religious, but I like God and he likes me.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Religious #Likes

  • I'm fairly certain when I die that the obituary will say, 'Author of 'Angels in America' dies.' Unless I'm completely forgotten, and then it won't say anything at all.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Angel #America #Say Anything

  • Here's another piece of advice, only date people who have read a different set of books than you have read, it will save you lots of time in the library.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Book #People #Advice

  • You'll find, my friend, that what you love will take you places you never dreamed you'd go.
    -- Tony Kushner

  • 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

    #World #Without You

  • What makes the voice pathetic is that it doesn't know what kind of people it's reaching. Us. No one hears it, except us. This Age wanted heroes. It got us instead: carefully constructed, but immobile. Subtle but, unfit to take up the burden of the times. It happens. A whole generation of washouts. History says stand up, and we totter and collapse, weeping, moved, but not sufficient.
    -- Tony Kushner

    #Hero #Voice #People