Moisés Kaufman is a playwright, director, and founder of the Tectonic Theater Project based in New York City.
Kaufman was born in Caracas, Venequela on November 21, 1963. His family is Orthodox Jewish of Romanian and Ukrainian descent. He attended a yeshiva (a Jewish religious school) as a child. While growing up, he was first exposed to theatre on family vacations to New York City. As a teenager, he attended a Caracas theatre festival which introduced him to the work of avant grade theater artists Peter Brook, Tadeusz Kantor, Pina Bausch, and Jerzy Grotowski, whom he cites as his earliest influences. He attended Metropolitan University in Caracas. During his time at university, he acted in a touring experimental theatre group.
In 1987, Kaufman moved to New York City to study directing at NYU's Tisch School of the Performing Arts. Four years later, he and his partner, Jeffrey LaHoste, created the Tectonic Theatre Project. The company is dedicated to addressing contemporary social issues, as well as to explore the structure and language of theatre.
Kaufman has stated that he is primarily drawn to moments in history that unintentionally reveal a society's views and belief systems. His first play, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, premiered in New York City in 1997. It won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway play.
From 1998-1999, Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie, Wyoming to interview those connected to the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. The ensuing work compiled from their interviews, The Laramie Project, premiered in 2000 and was made into a film for HBO on 2001. The play gathered a worldwide following and has become a seminole work for the LGBQT community and for professional theaters, universities, high schools, and community theaters.
In 2003, Kaufman directed Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife: Studies for a Play About Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. The play follows a gay transvestite who survived life in Nazi Germany and Soviet East Berlin. Kaufman received a Tony Award nomination for his direction. In 2007, Kaufman directed for Broadway again, this time for his own play, 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda as a musicologist obsessed with Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. This garnered him his second Tony nomination.
In 2009, Kaufman and other members of the Tectonic Theater Project reunited to create The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, a sequel to the original piece. It was performed in staged readings around the globe.
In 2011, he directed Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger At the Baghdad Zoo on Broadway starring Robin Williams. In 2012, he directed a revival of Ruth and Augustus Goetz's The Heiress on Broadway.
Mr. Kaufman has been honored with a Steinberg/ATCA Best New Play Award, a Dike Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a GLAAD Media Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, a Carbonell Award, a Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award, a Lambda Book Award, Venezuela's Casa del Artista, American Library Association's GLBT Literature Award, the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s “Making A Difference Award", the Artistic Integrity Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the National Board of Review Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, a Golden Bear Award from the Berlin Film Festival, the Humanitas Prize,the Joe A. Callaway Award, and two Tony Award nominations.
For more information on the Tectonic Theater Project, visit their website: http://tectonictheaterproject.org.