Artful Beginnings

Richard Montoya and David Kelly in La Jolla Playhouse’s production of ‘American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose.’  Jenny Graham
Richard Montoya and David Kelly in La Jolla Playhouse’s production of ‘American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose.’ Jenny Graham

La Jolla cultural organizations gear up for 2012

By Pat Sherman

From world-class orchestral performances to edgy, experimental theater and a smorgasbord of music, art and literature, La Jolla’s cultural organizations have great things in store for patrons and visitors. Read on and discover what La Jolla’s cultural crème de la crème have planned for 2012.

La Jolla Playhouse

La Jolla Playhouse kicks off its 2012-2013 season in the driver’s seat with “The Car Plays: San Diego,” a series of 10-minute plays performed inside automobiles, Feb. 23-

March 4. Held in the playhouse parking lot, two-person audiences will move from vehicle to vehicle, watching as dramas and comedies unfold around them.

Also new for 2012 is a series of intimate cabaret performances in the Potiker Theatre, featuring three-night runs by outrageous comedienne and songstress Sandra Bernhard (March 14-17) and Chicago’s legendary Second City improvisational comedy troupe (March 21-24).

“We’re going to convert the Potiker into like a speakeasy,” said Playhouse managing director Michael Rosenberg. “We’ll have booths and tables and chairs and you’ll be able to order food and have some adult beverages.

“In true Playhouse fashion there’s some new stuff, some edgy stuff, and some political stuff this season.”

The Playhouse’s regular stage season kicks off Jan. 27 with “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José,” Los Angeles-based Culture Clash’s politically-charged play about a man who falls asleep while studying for the history portion of his U.S. citizenship test.

“The play is really his dream, which becomes this mash-up of American history, Mexican history, what it means to be an American and what it means to be a man,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a lot of fun, but it will be controversial.”

Also on deck for 2012 will be a musical adaptation of the 1997 documentary, “Hands on a Hard Body,” with music by Trey Anastasio of the band Phish, and from June 19 to July 15 the Playhouse will feature a creative adaptation of the Greek epic, “The Iliad.”

The Playhouse maintains an annual budget of around $14 million through ticket sales, subscriptions, and individual and corporate donations, Rosenberg said.

In 2012, the organization will receive its third installment of a four-year, $900,000 grant. The Playhouse also receives $350,000 a year through the city’s transient occupancy tax on hotel rooms, and money from its annual gala fundraiser (to be held March 9 this year).

• For more information, visit

lajollaplayhouse.org

MCASD, La Jolla

Following up on the most successful show in its history, “Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface” (which ends Jan. 22), the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla will feature a retrospective of prints by SDSU alumnus and National City native, John Baldessari.

The world-renowned conceptual artist was featured in a one-person retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City last year. His “brain cloud” mural graces a wall above the La Jolla Cove off Prospect Street.

“It’s great to have this famous son come back and show a good-size exhibition,” said the museum’s director and chief executive officer, Hugh Davies.

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