“[The election] showed a majority of white evangelicals did not care about the behavior of a president that doesn’t seem that Christian. Donald Trump is the antithesis of everything Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount.”
Tony Kushner’s next play is about Donald Trump.
The Angels in America playwright has just begun a new work that will be set two years before the presidential election, and include Trump as a direct character, reports The Daily Beast, though he admits it “feels very soon” to write a piece that includes him.
“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,” he said. “I don’t feel like I have to get something done while he’s still in office. I gambled with Angels, which is set in the Reagan era but which I felt would be historically significant 30, 40, 50 years later, because something really fundamental had shifted under Reagan. The same thing is true with Trump.”
So why focus on the current U.S. president? “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 told The Daily Beast. “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.”
Kushner went on to discuss Trump’s traits. “He may do things that do not surprise us. We can imagine the worst he can do — mishandle things so much that we end up in a nuclear war. We know that he will never reveal a depth of humanity, because he’s been around for decades and there has never been a sign of it. … 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.”
The playwright said “the main problem is how our country can give such power to a madman and crazy person; how a country commits political suicide — and I don’t think analogies to Hitler are misplaced in that regard. … For 40 years the Republican Party has said that government is evil and greed is good, that history is of no interest, and courted white supremacy. The result of the election was the expression of what they want, and it showed a majority of white evangelicals did not care about the behavior of a president that doesn’t seem that Christian. Donald Trump is the antithesis of everything Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount.”
Additionally, Kushner said Trump holds key similarities to Roy Cohn, Trump’s lawyer who is also a character in Angels in America. “I don’t know when Trump lies — about the size of his inauguration crowd, winning the popular vote — if he is aware of it. Maybe sometimes he is, sometimes he isn’t. I didn’t have the sense with Roy that he lost sight of where the divide between fantasy and reality lay, which Trump does I think. … What they share is [Joe] 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. … The idea that all publicity is good publicity, always make sure you’re in the newspapers.”
The London National Theatre’s staging of Angels in America, the AIDS crisis story starring Andrew Garfield, screens in theaters this and next Thursday.