19th Annual Literary Festival
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Source:  "Mace and Crown"  Oct 15, 1996  page 4  vol. 35 issue 7
Tony Kushner speaks at Literary Festival

BY PEGGY HOFFMAN

Staff Writer

Kushner, a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner for his controversial play "Angels in America" came to Norfolk Thursday as a guest speaker to support and participate in ODU's 19th Annual Literary Festival, billed as "Forbidden Passage," tackling the subjects of banned books and censorship.

Kushner immediately snared the audience in MGB 102 by reading a short satire poking fun at President Clinton's political SNAFUs, alleged marital affairs and alleged GOP affairs.

For the next 30 minutes the audience sat helpless against an onslaught of what Kushner called "23 really little monologues." The reading, titled "East Coast Ode to Howard Jarvis," focused on the bureaucracy surrounding the true story of 700 New York City employees having not paid their taxes in years, and the city's efforts to reclaim the money.

Kushner, rarely looking up from behind the podium, directed the audience through the story like a conductor and his symphony using his animated New York prose, cadence and imaginary baton.

The audience responded with gleaming eyes and mouths half open, ready to laugh in an instant. And laugh they did, almost on a 10 second cue. Every once in a while, Kushner began a long crescendo of sentences, forcing the audience into near hypoxia waiting for the punch line and another burst of laughter and air.

Kushner, rarely looking up from behind the podium, directed the audience through the story like a conductor and his symphony using his animated New York prose, cadence and imaginary baton.

Following the readings Kushner answered questions from the audience and the tone of the evening adjusted to focus on the seriousness of the "Forbidden Passage" theme.

Asked for his comments on the slashing of funds for the arts, Kushner said he would prefer to see unlimited government funding. "It's a measure of maturity and democracy," he said.

Kushner then announced his involvement in an unnamed group currently organizing a demonstration for the restitution of cut funds in Washington, D.C. The unofficial date is April 19.

According to Kushner, cut funds are largely the fault of the arts community failing to rally to the cause. College students, known for their activism, are therefore being sought to aid in the demonstration.
 
 

When asked what the should do, Kushner replied, by getting involved." He continued to say "The problem with the left is laziness. They also think too much."

He elaborated on his comments by using what he referred to as Christian Coalition androids, saying that sometimes it's more important to make a mistake by trying something and failing, than spending too much time thinking and in the end trying nothing, and accomplishing nothing.

Kushner also gave a plug for the president. "I hate Clinton but I think we should vote for him anyway."

The presidency, Kushner said is the responsibility of the citizens. "Clinton is a horrible person in a lot of ways, but is that malleable, like the Pillsbury dough boy," he said.

Citizens can make Clinton a good president by starting to write letters, and more importantly, exercising the right to vote. Citizens have two choices, Kushner said, stand on the side line, or participate in the mistakes the human race makes trying to go forward.
 


This page was digitized and formatted by Rob Shell, student in Pierce Tyler's Digital Literacy course (English 250), Fall 1999.

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