‘Angels in America’ Writer Tony Kushner to Pen a Trump Play, Compares Him to Roy Cohn


Though taking on one of the most dreadful and hyperbolic personalities in politics has proven difficult for satire/art/TV/etc. — because reality is already so exaggerated that art loses its allegorical powers — it’s something that seems difficult for writers not to attempt. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are taking on the 2016 election; so, in his own way, is Ryan Murphy. Now, Pulitzer Prize winning Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner has also announced that he’s working on Trump-in-the-recent-past oriented material.

Speaking with the Daily Beast (in an interview surrounding the live screenings of the London National Theatre production of Angels in American cinemas), Kushner addressed the subject with self-awareness about the difficulties of writing Trump material. He said, “It certainly feels like folly that I or anyone else has a definitive understanding or comprehensive understanding of what going on. I have my guesses like everyone else has, but it will take some time and a lot will depend on how it is resolved.”

As a way to sidestep mere prediction about whatever awful policies and revelations await, the piece explains, Kushner is setting two years prior to the election, with Trump’s character represented as himself, rather than through a symbol or other character reflective of him. The playwright further explains:

He’s the kind of person, as a writer, I tend to avoid as I think he is borderline psychotic. I definitely think that incoherence lends itself well to drama, but he really is very boring…He just runs round and round in his grim little well saying the same things over and over again. Occasionally he will write or say something funny like ‘Covfefe,’ but the last five months have been astonishingly one-note and flat. He is precisely the kind of person who you would not want to be stuck next to at a party. You can’t get away from how grotesque he is. Reagan was really disgusting too, but not as venal.

Tim Teeman, who interviewed Kushner and penned the profile, also notes Trump’s friendship to Roy Cohn, who was also Trump’s lawyer and advisor — after the whole McCarthyite thing — and who you may recall was one of the key figures in Angels in America. (He’s played by Al Pacino in the HBO miniseries, and is currently being played by Nathan Lane in London.) Kushner compares the two, saying:

The difference between Trump and Cohn—for all the malevolence and disturbance Roy was capable of—is that he was also capable of genuine loyalty and an affectional constancy…What they share is McCarthy’s belief that you shouldn’t be a small, nervous liar. Make it huge, and never admit it, even if people might scream in your face it about it being a lie. In the immediate moment, bend reality around what you say. Whether you are discovered, come up with an even bigger one.