A Dialectically Shaped Truth

South Coast Repertory honcho John Glore has the best job in the world when he interviews the country's most famous gay socialist playwright in this benefit for the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation. Tony Kushner's Angels in America and other plays make him the smartest, funniest, most politically engaged people's playwright in America, an ambitious and un-shy chronicler, kvetcher and intellect of the theater, of the Left, possessor of a wide-open eye for history with no flinching. Brave local supporters of the arts will don cocktail attire and pony up their tax-deductible contributions for the arts to meet an artist who has heroically, consistently and Pulitzer Prize-winningly objected to a system that otherwise used their taxes for war and empire. Kushner takes for granted an audience world-view, then stages a serious discourse about love, religion and politics. He populates his casts with flawed, brilliant characters—delusional drug-popping wife, closeted Mormon Reaganoid husband, the unlikely duo of Roy Cohn and Ethel Rosenberg in Angels—and we watch them struggle with their contradictions in the drama of what used to be called an analysis. Kushner tricks or forces or reassures us into the urgency of seeing what Lionel Trilling termed “the moral obligation to be intelligent.” He just assumes we are part of a conversation in which it's understood that powerful forces count on—even demand—our resistance. Glore, SCR's associate artistic director and no slouch himself, might ask Kushner to talk about his next play, with the modest if funnily instructive title The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.

Tony Kushner at the Newport Beach Public Library, 1000 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 548-2411; www.nbplfoundation.org/events.htm. Sun., 6 p.m. $135; foundation members, $125. Cocktail attire required.

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