La Jolla Playhouse opens season with best new play

When the curtain went up, April 8, on the 2008 season at the La Jolla Playhouse, the audience was treated to the West Coast premiere of the best new American play, according to U.S. critics.

On March 29, the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) announced its selection of Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations to receive the 2008 Harold and Mimi Steinberg /American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award.

The award includes a commemorative plaque and a cash prize of $25,000 - currently the largest national playwriting award.

The Steinberg/ATCA Award was started in 1977 to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City.

Kaufman’s 33 Variations debuted in September at Washington’s Arena Stage. It offers a fictional imagining of Beethoven’s obsession with a simple waltz, for which he created 33 variations. The play includes a concert pianist on stage.

Kaufman’s plays Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and The Laramie Project have been among the most performed plays in America over the last decade. He also won an Obie Award for his direction of I Am My Own Wife, which won a Pulitzer and Tony Awards.

33 Variations is at the La Jolla Playhouse Mandell Weiss Theatre through May 4.