Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue: Essays, a Play, Two Poems and a Prayer

Tony Kushner, Author
Tony Kushner, Author Theatre Communications Group $15.95 (276p) ISBN 978-1-55936-100-2
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Ebook - 276 pages - 978-1-55936-639-7
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``If you do political theater,'' says Kushner, author of the play Angels in America, ``you are starting out with one big strike against you. You will have to be better than most, not just as good as.'' He also adds that in ``becoming humorless we lose connection to the most vital parts of our culture.'' In this collection of nine essays (taken from addresses and articles), two lukewarm poems, a play and a moving prayer, he proves the validity of his own maxims. The initial essay, ``Notes About Theater-My STUMP Speech,'' is terrific: his riff on the political and the personal, the theater of the ridiculous and the theater of the fabulous, synthesizes humor and commitment into wisdom. But the further Kushner's writings get from the personal, and the closer they get to the political, the less interesting they are. None of his pieces is exactly tightly argued, but his politics taken neat are a loose conglomeration of familiar rhetoric generally lacking an individual imprint. His most cogently argued position is that gay liberation must be linked to a fight against oppression of any stripe. Less convincing is his screed against the Gulf war, of which he says, ``No single event during the course of my lifetime [Kushner was born in 1956], nothing that I can remember has occasioned such depression and despair as has the Gulf War.'' The play, a funny, insightful piece set in post-glasnost Russia, explores an ultimate crisis of faith, and in one of its best scenes, the old revolutionary Aleksii Antedilluvianovich Prelapsarianov exclaims ``For ninety years I have wondered... WHY is the Good Cause always defeated by the Bad.... Because God... is a Menshevik!'' (July)
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