New Play a Timely Examination of East-West Understanding

Listen Listen to Noah Adams' conversation with Tony Kushner, and hear selected excerpts from Homebody/Kabul

Tony Kushner

Tony Kushner
Photo: © Gloria Wegener/Steven Barclay Agency

Dec. 3, 2001 -- "I didn't imagine, when I was working on the play, that by the time we produced it, the United States would be at war with Afghanistan."

So writes playwright Tony Kushner about his newest play, Homebody/Kabul. The play, set in London and the Afghan capital at the end of the '90s, follows the story of a lonely and over-medicated British housewife -- a "homebody" -- falling under the spell of an out-of-date travel guide for Afghanistan.

Her focus on the exotic, fantastic and tragic history of Afghanistan becomes an obsession. She travels to Afghanistan herself, only to discover there is more to understanding other cultures than simply reading about them in books.

The play couldn't be more timely -- yet it was four years in the making, finished last winter, and wasn't modified after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "I assumed that people watching the play would really not know what the Northern Alliance was, or care particularly," Kushner told All Things Considered co-host Noah Adams. "I don't think I have to worry about that any more."

Plays by Tony Kushner


Henry Box Brown or the Mirror of Slavery

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes
  Part One: Millennium Approaches (1993 Pulitzer Prize winner)
  Part Two: Perestroika


A Bright Room Called Day


Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness


Stella by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Good Person of Setzuan by Bertold Brecht

The Dybbuk by S. Ansky

The Illusion by Pierre Corneille

Kushner, one of the most prominent contemporary playwrights in America, is known for the political themes of his works. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his landmark Angels in America -- Part One: Millennium Approaches, which explores themes of moral responsibility during the Reagan era and the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic.

Kushner's latest play, which opens at the New York Theatre Workshop on Dec. 19, is meant to cast an equally critical eye on the political and social chaos in Afghanistan, and its relationship to the West -- and about trying to escape unhappiness by seeking out "otherness."

Kushner is a big believer in the power of theatre to educate and enlighten. "We have been abruptly plunged into horror -- by (Sept. 11) first and foremost... and by the actions of our administration as well, both here and abroad," Kushner writes. "More horror is to come.

"We need to think about ourselves, our society -- even about our enemies."

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Other Resources

New York Theatre Workshop

• Steven Barclay Agency Web site for Tony Kushner