By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
What about the Gallup Poll showing a decline of support for such proposals?
I’m not in the least concerned. I have faith in the 40 percent of the population that hasn’t wavered. I don’t think it’s a fight we’re going to lose.
It’s obvious Bush is using this issue to bait the Democrats.
Bush will say whatever he needs to say to appease whomever he needs to appease; he’s too stupid to make up his own mind. He’s not an ideologue, he’s manipulated by ideologues. He’ll never object to anything Karl Rove tells him to say. They’re too smart to do anything before the election.
What did you find in your visit to the Occupied Territories?
Islamic fundamentalism is inextricable from the history of colonialism. If you go down that road, don’t skip back to the Crusades — all that nonsense about Christianity versus Islam. This is a war about oppression, not religion. Sunni Muslims never provided a breeding ground of the kind of intense anti-colonialist, Muslim groups like al Qaeda. Their brand of fundamentalism that’s producing suicide bombers has nothing to do with religion, or the Crusades. It stems entirely from modern colonialism and the intense sense of oppression it has produced.
How do Sharon’s policies affect your sense of identity as an American Jew?
I don’t believe in any nation defined by religion — I believe in secular democracy — I feel very, very passionately that millions of American Jews feel this way too, that Ariel Sharon is a disaster for the people, that his government has taken an irreparable, dismaying turn for the development of the country. Ariel Sharon and Hamas are partners who want the same thing — that there be no peace. The wall Israel is building will ghettoize the Palestinian continent into eight sectors that Sharon hopes will disintegrate from within. Hamas wants no peace because they have a crackpot notion that Israel is going to be defeated, which will never happen as long as the U.S. is around.
Is there anything in the works for some kind of resolution?
Nothing. The Palestinians have to have their own roads and infrastructure; there’s nothing like that planned. No schools, no irrigation, there’s no capital. These people are living on scraps of desert, standing in line for hours in the heat to get back into Gaza, to do work in Israel, because there’s no work anywhere else, the kids living in concrete tombs, no movie theaters, nothing. Meanwhile, how many Israelis die protecting the psychos from Brooklyn who make up the populations of these settlements?
In a 1995 survey for Baltimore Center Stage, you wrote that your favorite occupation was writing plays and that you would like to be the author of five important plays and many minor ones. Aside from the obvious hardships of “trying to catch the wind in a sieve” [Brecht’s phrase], do you find any ecstasy in writing?
Ecstasy? I don’t know, there are these moments. Perestroika[Part 2 of Angels in America] was written in a 10-day extravaganza on the Russian River, and it came pouring out. It came pouring out, my mother came pouring . . . I had always been afraid that I couldn’t finish the play, a lot of it was shit, but some of it was usable. But most of writing is misery, complete torture, weirdly exhausting, physically difficult, deeply draining and fatiguing. Making up people with a degree of specificity — to give the play a life, it feels like you’re taking something out of yourself. In the old days I would eat immensely, but I can’t do that and not weigh 1,000 pounds. There is something unbelievably exciting about watching a good production with an audience and feeling that you’ve made something useful and new that didn’t exist before, that you’ve moved people. With the musical Caroline, the first time we did a sing-through, people were sobbing, not just like theater sniffles, they really lost it. Donna Murphy, a friend of mine, said, “See, you only get this in musical theater.” It’s true. I’ve been profoundly moved by drama, but I’ve never cried as much as I’ve cried watching the movie of West Side Story.
Homebody/Kabul starts previews at the Mark Taper Forum on Sunday, September 21, and opens Thursday, October 2. It plays Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; matinees Saturdays and Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; through November 9. For tickets, call (213) 628-2772. Tony Kushner speaks at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Monday, September 22. For information or tickets, call (310) 825-2101.