Kushner Talks on AIDS

Despite tremendous anxiety and stress, people with AIDS must have hope for the future, Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Tony Kushner told a crowd of about 100 yesterday at Leverett Old Library.

"Anybody that is committed to the ideal of political progress...has to explore the idea of hope...especially because times are so very bleak," Kushner said. "Hope and the future are synonymous."

Kushner's talk, sponsored by The Learning From Performers Program, was an "open discussion," about his most recent play, "Angels in America."

"Angels in America" consists of two plays, "Millennium Approaches" and "Perestroika."

Set in the Reagan Era, the plays focus on issues of racism, sexism, sexual preference and AIDS. "Angels in America" traces the AIDS-related death of Roy Cohn, the right-wing assistant to J. Edgar Hoover.

The play also depicts the breakup of another character's marriage when he confronts his homosexuality and the problems of a couple confronted with AIDS.

"Millenium Approaches" opened on Broadway last May, after running successfully in both Los Angeles and London. "Perestroika" opened on Broadway this past week.

Other plays by Kushner include "A Bright Room Called Day" and an adaptation of the 19th century French playwright Pierre Cornielle's "Illusion." Currently, Kushner is working on a play about the 17th century Dutch artist Jan Vermeer.

Kushner said that for future projects, he is interested in the question of coping in a stressful world.

"When do you freak out...and walk into the middle of the street and start tearing at your hair," Kushner asked. "Everyday life has this incredible weight and that never happens."

Members of the Learning from Performers Program were impressed with the talk. "I've seen students' reactions to a lot of artists, and I was really moved to see how focuesd and attentive the students were to him," said Susan Zielinski, program coordinator of Learning from Performers.