The Great Work Begins

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Ricarda Klüßendorf

The Great Work Begins. Tony Kushner's Theater for Change in America

ISBN 978-3-88476-978-2, 312 S., kt., € 30,00 (2007)

(CDE-Studies, Bd. 15)

“Hurricane Kushner Hits the Heartland,” the title of a 2003 New York Times article, is quite a fitting appraisal of Kushner’s career in the United States. From the earliest productions of his plays Off-Off-Broadway in the mid-80s, Kushner has made his way even into American living rooms, his Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels in America having been adapted for cable television. Poetical, political and polemical, his work has been a hotspot of American attention. His plays are in production all over the world, he is something of an unofficial spokesperson for the American gay community, and has become more and more of a public persona of the American Left in recent years. As Belize in Angels in America would phrase it, Kushner is “some piping hot dish.”

Central to Kushner’s work is the author’s focus on the necessity of “change” and the need for “community” in order to make change – both personal and political – possible. This study explores these themes in the dramatic work of Tony Kushner on several levels: It analyzes the portrayal of change and community in Kushner’s plays, focusing on A Bright Room Called Day, Angels in America, and Caroline, or Change. It places the author’s combination of harsh criticism and deep love for America in the context of American thought and writing. Making use of a number of unpublished earlier drafts of Angels in America and personal interviews with both the author and his collaborators, it also looks at the reciprocal connection between text and theatrical production in the developing process of Kushner’s plays.

Award of the German Society for Contemporary Drama and Theatre in English 2008


"Klüßendorf's doctoral dissertation is a well-written, well-iformed and well-researched wirk. The CDA Award it received in 2008 from the German Society for Contemporary Drama and Theatre in English is well deserved."

Kurt Müller, Anglistik – International Journal of English Studies 21.1 (2010)