Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tony Kushner - an intelligent homosexual's guide...

A long slow spring - sunny but still chilly, especially at night. That's okay; we can wait. The city is beautiful with bloom, but my forsythia, which is usually spent by now, has yet to flower. 

Lungs better, nearly well, though not quite. But I'm back on my bicycle, a sure sign that strength is returning. What joy that I can get to U of T entirely on the safe, separated bike track along Wellesley. Thankful, too, for the new Bloor St. bike track, whenever it appears. Slowly the city becomes enlightened after the Ford years - aka the Dark Ages. 

On Monday night, a huge treat - I went to hear a talk by the superb playwright/screenwriter/all round genius Tony Kushner. Yes, I have an added bond with him because he was kind enough to write and send the blurb that's on the front and back of my Jewish Shakespeare book. But I'd be a huge admirer anyway after seeing his magnificent plays Caroline or Change, the Angels in America plays, the Intelligent Homosexual's Guide etc. 

It was a a stimulating, entertaining, thought-provoking evening with an extraordinary man, so honest, gracious and self-deprecating, extremely funny and knowledgeable. I learned a great deal about the theater, writing, playwriting, screenwriting. And once more, as I have so often, I fell in love with a brilliant artistic gay man. 

There was a controversy about the talk - a major Jewish group in Toronto urged a boycott because Kushner is a member of an organization urging peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He addressed the issue: growing up in the deep south, he said, if you ever challenged the orthodox view – that slaves liked being slaves, were treated well, everything was fine – you’d be met with vehement denial and rage. He realized that they knew they were spouting lies and so had to hold the edifice up with all their might, because the minute they allowed a hole to be poked in it, the whole thing might fall down.

That’s the way he feels about people who won’t brook discussion about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians: they’re clinging to a fantasy version of Israel and can't bear to try to see the truth. Even in Israel, he said, there is ferocious discussion about these things, whereas in the States, and I guess in Canada too, he said, no discussion  is allowed. McCarthy-ite, he called it; I agree and so did the entire audience, which gave him a rousing ovation. 

He talked about the 8 year nervous breakdown white men have been having in the US because there’s a black president and he’s really good at his job and he’s STILL THERE! And he talked about the many incredible people he knows, including Spielberg and Sondheim. It was all riveting. Thank you, Koffler Centre for the Arts, for bringing him in and having the courage to stand by him all the way.

Tuesday, another thrill - my friend Curtis came back to hear the other half of my memoir manuscript. And he still likes it. This is what he said: "A masterful work of art, highly entertaining. A fascinating journey." I had to pay him a great deal for that. LOL. Now I have a ton of work to do - there's a huge structural problem, lots of rewrites, cuts etc. But I am heartened and full of cheer. There are flowers, there's a potential book, there is genius in the world. Onward. 

Speaking on onward, a tall young man is moving out into the world.
So big! This boy is THREE. For two more weeks. 

And one more thing - I was really disappointed to receive the Short Form Census. What wonderful geeks we Canadians be.

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