Public Forum Drama Club: “Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy” by Tony Kushner

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Laura Bush once told an interviewer that her favorite book is The Brothers Karamazov. In 2003, with America in the throes of the Iraq War, Tony Kushner wrote a short play inspired by this news. It depicts the First Lady reading the Grand Inquisitor section of Dostoevsky’s novel to an unlikely audience: Iraqi children wearing pajamas in heaven.

On November 3, 2013, Public Forum’s new Drama Club series featured a reading  and discussion of Kushner’s provocative play. In keeping with the mission of Drama Club—to bring together the finest artists and the most insightful people in American life—the play was read and its political and moral themes were explored by the talented actors Elizabeth Marvel and Denis O’Hare, plus Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.


This recording is only authorized for personal use. It cannot be duplicated, transcribed, sold, performed, or broadcast without express written permission from Tony Kushner and The Public Theater.

The Public Forum Podcast is an ongoing series of interviews featuring artists and thinkers who do fascinating work at The Public Theater in New York. Jeremy McCarter, director of the Public Forum, leads conversations on music, theater, politics, literature, and more. Subscribe on iTunes.

About thepublictheater

Founded by Joseph Papp as the Shakespeare Workshop and now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, The Public is an American theater in which all of the country’s voices, rhythms, and cultures converge.

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