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News Release

Playwright Tony Kushner to receive honorary doctorate from U of M College of Liberal Arts

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer to receive degree in recognition of "€œpioneering interventions into dramatic arts"

Contacts: Kelly O’Brien, College of Liberal Arts, (612) 624-4109,
Ryan Maus, University News Service, (612) 624-1690,

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (05/18/2009) —The University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts will award an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to playwright Tony Kushner on Thursday, May 21.

Kushner, the subject of the Guthrie Theater's spring "Kushner Celebration" (the playwright's newest work also debuted last Friday at the Guthrie) will be given the highest honor conferred by the University of Minnesota, awarded to individuals who have achieved acknowledged eminence in cultural affairs, public service or in a field of knowledge and scholarship. To date, only 47 other individuals have been awarded honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from the U of M, and their ranks include Frank Gehry, Dominick Argento, Yanni, Merce Cunningham, Thomas Friedman, Gwendolyn and Jacob Lawrence, James Rosenquist, Charles Schulz, Robert Penn Warren and August Wilson.

Kushner was nominated for this award by faculty members from the U of M's English and American studies departments and Center for Jewish Studies in recognition of his influential and “pioneering interventions into American dramatics arts.” Considered one of the great living American playwrights, Kushner has created a body of work that continually circles back to his interests in history, politics, religion, sexuality and power.

“Kushner’s work is a call to struggle for justice, for responsibility and for love,” said Riv-Ellen Prell, former chair of the U of M's department of American studies and an affiliate faculty member in Jewish studies. “In his work devoted to the experiences of gay men and lesbians, Jews, outsiders, men and women of color and those without power... Tony Kushner changed American theater and became one of the great voices of the citizen artist of our century.”

Perhaps best known for his Tony award-winning two-part epic, “Angels in America,” Kushner is also the recipient of an Emmy for the HBO adaptation of Angels in America, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright award and many others.

The Guthrie's Kushner Celebration this spring includes productions of his musical “Caroline, or Change,” five rarely seen shorts presented as “Tiny Kushner: An Evening of Short Plays” and the world premiere of Kushner's new play “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.”

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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