Tony Kushner is known for many things: He wrote the deeply resonant play “Angels in America,” a seven-hour, Pulitzer Prize-winning production about the AIDS epidemic under President Ronald Reagan. He co-authored the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film “Munich” and penned the entirety of the screenplay for the Oscar-winning film “Lincoln.”
His next project: A play about President Donald Trump.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Kushner explained that he’s in the beginning stages of developing a theater work geared around the “nightmare” that is Trump’s ascendance to the White House. He recognizes that it’s early to be crafting a play that addresses a man who’s been in office for only half a year ― “It certainly feels like folly that I or anyone else has a definitive understanding or comprehensive understanding of what going on.” ― but nonetheless, he’s writing it.
Here’s what we know: The play won’t necessarily center on President Trump; rather, it will take place in the two years before he was elected. And its pre-White House character won’t be symbolic like the Public Theater’s “Julius Caesar” figure, dressed to appear like Trump but not actually be Trump. Kushner’s Trump will unequivocally be Trump.
So what does Kushner think of the man in charge?
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. It’s terrifying because he has all the power, but without the mental faculties he ought to have. I think he is seriously mentally ill, and the fact that he is in the White House is very frightening.
“He is precisely the kind of person who you would not want to be stuck next to at a party,” he added, before affirming that comparisons between Trump and Hitler are not misplaced. “You can’t get away from how grotesque [Trump] is. Reagan was really disgusting too, but not as venal.”
Kushner’s play might not be finished by the end of Trump’s first term. (“I find writing difficult,” Kushner said, giving budding playwrights everywhere some sense of hope.) In the meantime, those interested in reading a few other famous writers’ takes on the Trump era can check out Howard Jacobson’s Pussy, Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough, or stay tuned for Salman Rushdie’s The Golden House, out this September.