It might have been awkward--the fact that Tony Kushner, Oskar Eustis and Tony Taccone sat side by side as they made trips to the lectern to accept Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards in Studio City.
Though Eustis and Taccone staged Kushner’s “Angels in America” at the Mark Taper Forum last fall (and Eustis had earlier commissioned it), Kushner replaced them with George C. Wolfe for the upcoming Broadway production of the epic.
Yet no hard feelings were apparent last Sunday. From the lectern, Kushner effusively praised everything about the Taper production. Eustis is “one of the great artists of the American theater,” he said, and “Angels” was written, “to a great degree,” in conversations between the two of them. Taccone is “a great director.” Taper boss Gordon Davidson is “a national treasure,” and the Taper has “the most remarkable staff of any regional theater anywhere in the country.”
Kushner even dubbed Los Angeles itself “that strange and wonderful city that seems to become a second home for me.”
Taccone and Eustis responded in kind, with praise of Kushner.
There was actually more concern expressed about the director of the year’s other big epic, “The Kentucky Cycle.” Though “Cycle” took home more of the previously announced awards--five--than any other show, playwright Robert Schenkkan expressed his disappointment that “Cycle” director Warner Shook hadn’t received one.
Schenkkan’s remarks were read by his father, a retired public television executive also named Robert Schenkkan. The playwright himself was on vacation in Europe. The senior Schenkkan observed that one of the maxims he told his students, when he taught playwriting, was that “nobody ever got too much criticism for writing too short.” Now he’s grateful that his son didn’t follow that particular advice when he wrote the nine-play “Cycle.”