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Tarell Alvin McCraney. (Photo by Erik Carter)

Tarell Alvin McCraney Named Geffen Playhouse Artistic Director

McCraney’s appointment is effective immediately, and he succeeds Matt Shakman, who stepped down in February.

LOS ANGELES: Geffen Playhouse has announced that Tarell Alvin McCraney will become the company’s artistic director. Effective immediately, McCraney joins the Geffen staff in planning the 2024-25 season. McCraney succeeds Matt Shakman, who led the theatre since 2017 and stepped down in February.

“I am delighted to welcome and partner with Tarell,” said Geffen executive director/CEO Gil Cates Jr. in a statement. “From Choir Boy to the Cast Iron residency, and now as our new artistic director, Tarell has come full circle with the Geffen and we couldn’t be more excited. First and foremost, he is an exceptional artist and storyteller, and a true visionary with extraordinary ideas for where we can go as a theatre, as a home for artists and as part of the cultural landscape in Los Angeles.”

McCraney’s highly acclaimed play Choir Boy made its West Coast premiere at the Geffen’s Gil Cates Theater, directed by Trip Cullman and starring Jeremy Pope. In February 2020, he was part of the new Geffen Playhouse artist residency announced with Cast Iron Entertainment.

Tarell Alvin McCraney is an award-winning writer, producer, and educator. A proud, third generation Miamian, he is best known for his acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays. His script In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is the basis for the Oscar–winning film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins, for which McCraney and Jenkins also won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. He is also a Peabody Award winner (David Makes Man) and Tony nominee (Choir Boy). McCraney is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre, a member of Teo Castellanos D-Projects in Miami, a graduate of New World School of the Arts, The Theatre School at DePaul University, and the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Warwick. He was recently co-chair of the playwriting program at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, as well as playwright-in-residence at Yale Repertory Theatre. He is an associate at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Writers Branch).

As artistic director, McCraney will look to program new works along with re-envisioned classics with a focus on innovative storytelling, community engagement, and audience experience. He will set the strategic artistic course for the Geffen’s Gil Cates and Audrey Skirball Kenis Theaters, as well as lead the artistic and production teams.

“It’s an honor to take on the mantle of artistic leadership at Geffen Playhouse,” said McCraney in a statement. “My connection to the Geffen began with an introduction via Lower Depths Theater Ensemble in 2012 and continued through a production of Choir Boy, and into a residency with Cast Iron Entertainment. I see my role as continuing a legacy of exceptional artistry, reinvesting in the Geffen’s unique capability to nurture and support artists, build upon collaborative partnerships including with UCLA, and reach audiences that we share a community with across Los Angeles. I am excited to foster intimate innovation in performance, digging deep into our collective need for live connection here at Geffen Playhouse.”

Geffen Playhouse is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the cultural life of Los Angeles through plays and educational programs that inform, entertain, and inspire. As of 2022, the Geffen had an approximate budget of $15.8 million.

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