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For Immediate Release

Leslie Weddell
(719) 389-6038


David Henry Hwang, Tony Kushner and Suzan-Lori Parks convene to discuss intersections of art, culture, politics in unprecedented event

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Jan. 11, 2010 – Three of America’s greatest playwrights will appear together on stage for the first time during a lecture at Colorado College.

“Art, Culture, Politics: An Evening with David Henry Hwang, Tony Kushner and Suzan-Lori Parks” will take place 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3 at the  South Theatre in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus. This unprecedented event is free and open to the public.

 The celebrated trio will discuss the intersections of art, culture and politics in a conversation moderated by Laurence Maslon, a New York University professor, noted theater historian and Tony nominator.  Kushner, Parks and Hwang will assess the future of playwriting, the relative impact of their own plays, and the socio-historical elements involved in creating modern dramatic works.

The evening is notable in many ways: Kushner is one of the few playwrights to be awarded the esteemed “double” of a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award (“Angels in America”); Parks is first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (“Topdog/Underdog”); and Hwang is the first Asian American to win the Tony Award for Best Play (“M. Butterfly”).

Kushner founded a theater group in the early 1980s and began writing and producing plays. In the early 1990s, he scored a colossal hit with the epic, seven-hour, two-part Broadway blockbuster “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, the Evening Standard Award, two Olivier Award Nominations, the New York Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and the LAMBDA Liberty Award for Drama. This groundbreaking play focuses on three households in turmoil: a gay couple, one of whom has AIDS; a Mormon man coming to terms with his sexuality; and the infamous lawyer Roy Cohn, a historical figure who died of AIDS in 1986, denying his homosexuality all the way to his deathbed.

Parks’ renowned 2001 play“Topdog/Underdog” marked something of a departure from the exaggerated language and surreal imagery of her earlier work. Set in a single room, it explores the conflict between two brothers, ominously named for President Lincoln and his assassin, John Wilkes Booth. The play examines family identity, fraternal interdependence and the struggles of everyday African American life. Parks received the coveted "genius grant" of the McArthur Foundation in 2001, and “Topdog/Underdog” was awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with Suzan-Lori Parks becoming the first African American woman to be so honored. The play also was nominated for a Tony Award.

Hwang's early plays concerned the role of the Chinese American and Asian American in the modern day world. His first play, the Obie Award-winning “FOB,” depicts the contrasts and conflicts between established Asian Americans and "fresh off the boat" newcomer immigrants. His best-known play is “M. Butterfly,” for which he won a Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award, the John Gassner Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play. It was also his second play to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play is a deconstruction of Puccini's opera “Madame Butterfly.” It premiered on Broadway in 1988 and made Hwang the first Asian American to win the Tony Award for Best Play.

“Art, Culture, Politics: An Evening with David Henry Hwang, Tony Kushner and Suzan-Lori Parks” is the Cornerstone Keynote Lecture for 2010. This is the ninth year Colorado College has hosted the Cornerstone Arts Initiative. The program stresses interdisciplinary teaching of the arts, using technology to facilitate collaboration between departments. Cornerstone Arts events spotlight a question chosen by arts faculty and students, and is reinforced by special guests, performances and interdisciplinary courses. This year’s theme question is “Where Are the Intersections of Art, Culture, and Politics?”

Past years’ Cornerstone Arts topics have been addressed in events and lectures including “Is There Democracy in the Arts?” by cultural critic and author Martha Bayles and former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky; “Is There a Gay Aesthetic of the Arts?” by O. Henry Prize-winning author Bernard Cooper with lesbian and gay theater artists Peggy Shaw and Tim Miller; “Is Nothing Sacred?” by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison; “What’s So American About the American Musical?” with Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski, theater scholar/author Laurence Maslon and conductor/music director Michael Kosarin; “What is the Legacy of Modernism?” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand; “Religion and the Public Arts: Why Be Afraid?” by Camille Paglia; "Is the Media at War with the Arts?" by Sandra Bernhard; and last year, “What Do We Mean By ‘Performance Studies’?” by Richard Schechner.

A dance will be held immediately following the lecture in the Main Space of the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center. The Cornerstone Keynote Lecture is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities Teaching Professorship; the dance is sponsored by the office of the vice president for student life.

For information, directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.

About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,975 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit <>