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33 Variations at Arena Stage

The world premiere of 33 Variations, directed by Moisés Kaufman, is August 24 through September 30 at Arena Stage. Read on for our interview with him.

Moisés Kaufman, founder of the Tectonic Theater Project in New York City, author of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and The Laramie Project, and director of the original production of I Am My Own Wife, has written a new play. The world premiere of 33 Variations, which Kaufman also directs, is August 24 through September 30 at Arena Stage. Arts editor Susan Davidson spoke with him about the play.

33 Variations?

It’s a play about a piece of music Beethoven wrote toward the end of his life that has baffled musicologists for centuries. . . . Four years ago I went to Tower Records in New York at 11:45 at night. The salesperson asked if I knew the story of how Anton Diabelli invited composers to write variations on a waltz he had composed. Beethoven declined—but then wrote 33 variations on Diabelli’s theme. I said, “I have to go home and write a play about this.”

You’re obviously attracted to subjects based on real events involving real people.

I am interested in history and historical characters because I find great truth in their plights. This play is like a detective novel in which we try to go into the genius mind of this complicated man.

What is your theory about Beethoven’s 33 variations on a theme by Diabelli?

Come see the play.

What’s your next project?

Funny—that’s like asking a pregnant woman when she’s going to have her next baby. I have four projects in the oven, but I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

For more details and ticket information for 33 Variations, click here.