La Jolla Playhouse is where artists and audiences come together to create what’s new and next in American Theatre.
From Tony Award-winning plays and musicals, to imaginative programs for young audiences, to interactive experiences outside our theatre walls, the Playhouse brings people together to inspire discussion and open pathways to new ways of thinking.
A visit to the Playhouse is an invitation to harness the transformative power of theatre to explore the here and now – and together, expand our world’s compassion, understanding and hope.
La Jolla Playhouse advances theatre as an art form, telling stories that inspire empathy and create a dialogue toward a more just future. With our intrepid spirit and eclectic, artist-driven approach we will continue to cultivate a local, national and global following with an insatiable appetite for audacious work.
We provide unfettered creative opportunities for a community of artists of all backgrounds and abilities. We are committed to being a permanent safe harbor for unsafe and surprising work, offering a glimpse of the new and the next in American theatre.
Founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, La Jolla Playhouse thrived as a summer stock retreat for such Hollywood luminaries as Vivian Vance, Groucho Marx and Eve Arden. After over a decade of performances featuring numerous greats from stage and film, the Playhouse went on hiatus from 1959 – 1982. While shuttered, a handful of dedicated supporters fought to keep the Playhouse alive, eventually working to revive it on the campus of UC San Diego in 1983.
Over the next three decades, La Jolla Playhouse rose to prominence as one of the most celebrated regional theatres in the country. Under the artistic leadership Des McAnuff (1983 – 1994; 2001 – 2007), the Playhouse developed dozens of new works, many of which transferred to Broadway, including Big River, The Who’s Tommy and Jersey Boys. In 1993, the Playhouse was awarded the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
This period also saw the beginning of the Playhouse’s acclaimed Performance Outreach Program (POP) Tour, in which a brand new, Playhouse-commissioned work brings the magic of theatre into San Diego schools. The Playhouse’s continued its commitment to developing new plays and musicals with the launch of its Page To Stage New Play Development Program, spawning the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife.
Led for the last decade by 2017 Tony Award winner Christopher Ashley, the Playhouse has solidified its reputation of originating new work, producing a total of 108 world premieres and sending 33 productions to Broadway – including the currently-running hit musical Come From Away.
Deepening the Playhouse’s connection to the San Diego community, Christopher Ashley inaugurated the Resident Theatre Program in 2008, providing a temporary home each year for an up-and-coming theatre company. In 2011, he spearheaded the innovative Without Walls (WOW) series of site-inspired and immersive theatre. The Playhouse hosts a biennial WOW Festival featuring local and international artists in vibrant, interactive experiences that amplify the energy of the city.
From its signature play development initiatives to its intriguing and playful WOW programming, La Jolla Playhouse has become the place to see what’s next on the American theatre landscape.
Artists and audiences converge at La Jolla Playhouse to take part in the development of new plays and musicals. To date, the Playhouse has mounted 108 world premieres, commissioned 70 new works, and sent 33 productions to Broadway, garnering a total of 38 Tony Awards, including the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
La Jolla Playhouse stands in solidarity with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists, audiences and community members in the fight to end racism.
At La Jolla Playhouse, we believe that stories enhance the human experience, instill empathy and help us see the world in new ways. We respect all races, ethnicities, cultures, physical/cognitive abilities, ages, genders and identities, and endeavor to be an anti-racist and accessible organization that removes barriers to engagement. As a community of life-long learners who celebrate the spirit of play, we innovate and collaborate to bring theatre to life.
Since its inception, the Playhouse and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have worked closely together to create an integrated environment for the adventurous theatre produced by the Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse and the nationally-renowned theatre training program offered by the Department of Theatre & Dance.
The Playhouse also provides residencies for 20-25 UCSD graduate students in acting, directing, design, and stage management, and many undergraduate students take advantage of internships in various areas of the theatre. Playhouse artistic, administrative and production staff frequently teach in UCSD’s graduate theatre programs and UCSD faculty have been engaged by the Playhouse as actors, directors, designers, stage managers, choreographers and voice and movement coaches.
La Jolla Playhouse and UCSD’s Department of Theatre and Dance share the use of four theaters: the Mandell Weiss Theatre, the Mandell Weiss Forum, the Forum Studio and the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre.
The spirit of this unique relationship has always been one of symbiosis — the Playhouse feeding the university with extraordinary artists, innovative new works and high production values, while the university brings the energy and idealism of its talented students, a world-class faculty and the presence of an intellectual environment to support cutting edge work in the Theatre District.
Mandell Weiss Theatre
The first La Jolla Playhouse theatre introduced in 1983, the Mandell Weiss Theatre is a 492-seat proscenium arch theatre.
Mandell Weiss Forum
The second Playhouse venue, the Mandell Weiss Forum is a $4.9 million gem designed by award-winning architect Antoine Predock, housing a 400-seat thrust stage theatre.
Inagurated in 2005, the newest of the La Jolla Playhouse theatres is the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre, a black box flexible theatre seating up to 450 patrons, and the centerpiece of the 6,500-square-foot Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center.
The Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre is 98-seat theatre adjacent to the Mandell Weiss Forum.
La Jolla Playhouse acknowledges the land on which our theatres sit as the un-ceded territory of the Kumeyaay Nation. Today, the Kumeyaay people continue to maintain their political sovereignty and cultural traditions as vital members of the San Diego community. Their contributions to our region are tremendous and we thank them for their stewardship.
We welcome and encourage open discussion and comments within La Jolla Playhouse’s social media and communications channels. We value feedback about Playhouse experiences in all circumstances. However, we expect that comments, posts and communications will always be respectful of others. We endeavor to maintain topical, courteous and respectful social media spaces and communications that are aligned to our organizational values, and duty of care to create and maintain a safe environment for all. We reserve the right to moderate or remove any comments that are not in line with our Social Media Community and Communications Guidelines.
Photo credit: Montego Glover and the cast of Memphis, Photo by Kevin Berne.
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