Tag Archives: Tony Kushner


Arnie Zane [and I] built this company out of the same troubled milieu that we’re all living through right now—racism, sexism—and we have been able to make an organization that expressed my belief that art could save us.” — Bill T. Jones

As an innovator of post-modern dance since the 1970s and survivor of the American cultural wars of the ’80s, choreographer Bill T. Jones has endured catastrophes both political and personal. He lived through the disgrace of the government’s non-response to the AIDS epidemic, and lost Zane to the disease in 1988.

With his company—the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company—Jones’ created Still/Here (1994), a mixed-media, performance-art dance piece incorporating videotaped footage of terminally ill patients speaking into the camera. In an infamous attack on a work she declined to see firsthand, the New Yorker dance critic Arlene Croce railed against what she dismissed as foundation-dependent “victim art”:

“By working dying people into his act, Jones is putting himself beyond the reach of criticism. I think of him as literally undiscussable… because he has taken sanctuary among the unwell. Victim art defies criticism not only because we feel sorry for the victim but because we are cowed by art.”*

An uproar immediately followed, with Tony Kushner, Camille Paglia, Hilton Kramer, and Joyce Carol Oates weighing in from both sides. The author and activist bell hooks wrote:

“To write so contemptuously about a work one has not seen is an awesome flaunting of privilege—a testimony to the reality that there is no marginalized group or individual powerful enough to silence or suppress reactionary voices. Ms. Croce’s article is not courageous or daring, precisely because it merely mirrors the ruling political mood of our time.”*

After the publication of “Discussing the Undiscussable,” Croce’s output decreased significantly, while Jones—who recently dropped “dance” from his company’s title: “We are a contemporary performance ensemble”—has moved from strength to strength.**

This weekend at Royce Hall, CAP UCLA will present two complete performances of Jones’ ANALOGY TRILOGY, a durational work “focusing on memory and the effect of powerful events on the actions of individuals and, more importantly, on their often unexpressed inner life.” During the performance, musical accompaniment will be provided by composer Nick Hallett, pianist Emily Manzo, baritone Matthew Gamble, and the dancers.***

The trilogy can be seen in one daylong event, or as separate afternoon and evening performances:

ANALOGY/DORA: TRAMONTANE is based on the World War II experiences of French Jewish nurse Dora Amelan, the mother of Jones’ partner and company creative director Bjorn Amelan.

ANALOGY/LANCE: PRETTY aka THE ESCAPE ARTIST takes as its subject Jones’ nephew Lance Briggs. Art, in this case, could not save a life of promise after Lance quit dancing and turned to drugs and hustling.

ANALOGY/AMBROS: THE EMIGRANT draws from the W.G. Sebald novel The Emigrant to show how “trauma can go underground in the psyche of an individual and direct—consciously and unconsciously—the course of that individual’s life.”



Saturday and Sunday, November 3 and 4.

ANALOGY/DORA and ANALOGY/LANCE begin at 2 pm, with an intermission between parts.

ANALOGY/AMBROS begins at 7 pm.

The event breaks for dinner from 5:30 pm to 7 pm.

Royce Hall, UCLA

10745 Dickson Court, Los Angeles.

*Arlene Croce, “Discussing the Undiscussable,” in Writing in the Dark, Dancing in The New Yorker (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), 708–719.

Croce’s article was originally published in the December 26, 1994–January 2, 1995 issue of The New Yorker.

The responses by bell hooks and others ran under “Who’s the Victim? Dissenting Voices Answer Arlene Croce’s Critique of Victim Art” in the January 30, 1995 issue of the magazine.

**Gia Kourlas, “Bill T. Jones is Making Room in Dance for More Than Dance,” New York Times, September 18, 2018.

***Dancers performing during the Royce Hall engagement include Vinson Fraley, Jr., Barrington Hinds, Shane Larson, I-Ling Liu, Penda N’Diaye, Jenna Riegel, Christina Robson, Carlo Antonio Villanueva, and Huiwang Zhang.

Color photographs: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Analogy Trilogy, photographs by Paul B. Goode, image credit: CAP UCLA. Black and white photograph: Bill T. Jones (left) and Arnie Zane, image credit: New York Live Arts.


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Near the end of his recent T magazine essay on queer theater and the landmark plays of Mart Crowley (The Boys in the Band), Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart), Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy), and Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey), Jesse Green wrote:

“Among the new works I’ve actually seen, the only… piece that rises to the level of those I’ve beatified is Taylor Mac’s A 24-DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC… Miraculously, it combines Kushner’s vision, Kramer’s anger, Crowley’s cattiness, Fierstein’s warmth and Rudnick’s wit (plus a whole lot else) into one subversive astonishment…”*

Prepare to be astonished as Taylor brings his complete magnum opus to Los Angeles, starting this week. Each chapter in this CAP UCLA presentation in downtown L.A. comprises a 6-hour performance.



CHAPTER 1 (1776-1836), Thursday, March 15, at 6 pm.

CHAPTER II (1836-1896), Saturday, March 17, at 6 pm.

CHAPTER III (1896-1956), Thursday, March 22, at 6 pm.

CHAPTER IV (1956-2016), Saturday, March 24, at 6 pm.

THEATRE AT ACE HOTEL, 929 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles.


See: “A Time to Be Born: Taylor Mac in Conversation with Barlo Perry,” PARIS LA 15:
Taylor Mac in Brooklyn, autumn 2016. Photographs by Teddy Wolff.

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“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” — Abraham Lincoln

Tony Kushner (Angels in America and the screenplay for Lincoln) and Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation) will examine the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln this week at Royce Hall.





ROYCE HALL, UCLA, 10745 Dickson Court, Los Angeles.


Gloria Reuben, Sally Field, and Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln (2012). Image credit: DreamWorks.

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The original pre-Broadway production of Tony Kushner’s ANGELS IN AMERICA was staged in 1992 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, in the thick of the plague years. The culture wars of that time are still with us, and in a macabre twist, the White House is temporarily occupied by a mentee of one of ANGEL’s key figures—the corrupt, closeted right-wing attorney Roy Cohn.

The play, an epic that remains unsurpassed, is at the end of a sold-out revival at the National Theatre in London, directed by Marianne Elliott, and starring Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter. (Nathan Lane plays Cohn.) As part of National Theatre Live, the production will be broadcast this month at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA.

(A Broadway transfer is set to begin performances in February 2018.)

“Garfield….is splendid in the central role of the ailing Prior Walter….With his razor-edge cheekbones and eyes of fire, this gaunt Prior brings to mind Maria Callas as Medea, which he would surely take as a compliment. Mr. Garfield has the florid mannerisms of a vintage drag queen down pat. But he wields them as part of an intricate defense system born of both fear and defiance. This Prior is palpably as scared as hell, and as mad as hell, too.” — Ben Brantley, New York Times, May 5, 2017

ANGELS IN AMERICA, National Theatre Live broadcast.

PART ONE: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES, Sunday, August 20, at 4 pm.

PART TWO: PERESTROIKA, Sunday, August 27, at 4 pm.

JAMES BRIDGES THEATER, MELNITZ HALL, UCLA, 235 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles.


From top: Andrew Garfield as Prior Walter in Angels in America, by Tony Kushner, at the National Theatre in London, 2017; Garfield in rehearsal; Garfield and Amanda Lawrence; Garfield and Denise Gough. All photographs by Helen Maybanks.

Angels in America review

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'Angels in America'