Tarell Alvin McCraney named Geffen Playhouse artistic director

Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Oscar-winning cowriter for “Moonlight,” has been named artistic director for Geffen Playhouse.

McCraney, who identifies as gay, has already started his job and begun work on creating the 2025/2025 season. and reports to the theater’s board of directors.

McCraney’s official relationship with Geffen Playhouse began in 2014 when his 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.

“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,” McCraney said in a statement.

“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,” he said. “I am excited to foster intimate innovation in performance, digging deep into our collective need for live connection here at Geffen Playhouse.”

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In his role, McCraney will program new works along with re-envisioned classics with a focus on innovative storytelling, community engagement and audience experience.

McCraney will set the strategic artistic course for the Geffen’s Gil Cates and Audrey Skirball Kenis Theaters and lead the artistic and production teams.

He reports to the Geffen Playhouse’s board of directors.

tarell alvin mccraney Geffen Playhouse

Tarell Alvin McCraney, left, is the new artistic director of Geffen Playhouse. Gil Cates, Jr., center is the executive director, and Adi Greenberg is the board chair. Photo: Jeff Lorch.

In February 2020, he was part of the new Geffen Playhouse artist residency announced with Cast Iron Entertainment, a cohort of artists also including Sterling K. Brown, Glenn Davis, Brian Tyree Henry, Jon Michael Hill and André Holland.

“As an award-winning writer, producer and educator, (Tarell Alvin McCraney) is a force of creativity and uniquely suited to lead our theater’s artistic vision,” Geffen Playhouse Board Chair Adi Greenberg said in the statement.

“Together with Gil Cates, Jr., they are a powerhouse team who will embrace the evolution taking place in the industry, make bold, innovative choices and ensure Geffen Playhouse is well-positioned for the future,” she said.

Gil Cates, Jr., the executive director/CEO, added: “First and foremost, (Tarell Alvin McCraney) is an exceptional artist and storyteller, and a true visionary with extraordinary ideas for where we can go as a theater, as a home for artists and as part of the cultural landscape in Los Angeles.”

McCraney is a proud, third generation Miamian, best known for his acclaimed trilogy, “The Brother/Sister Plays.”

His script “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” is the basis for the semi-autobiographical Oscar–winning film “Moonlight” directed by Barry Jenkins. McCraney and Jenkins won a best adapted screenplay Oscar.

McCraney is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre and 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 and playwright-in-residence at Yale Repertory Theatre, where he fostered a workshop program at the David Geffen School of Drama.

He is an associate at the Royal Shakespeare Company, London, and a member of the writers branch of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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