The Geffen Playhouse
Los Angeles has long been the capital of entertainment, the gold standard destination for film, television and music. But over the past decade, L.A. has emerged as the hotbed of another important medium of art and creativity: theater. To be present for the premieres of new and exciting plays, one used to have to hop on a plane and head to Broadway. But no more. It’s happening here now. And one of the leading west coast theaters is the Geffen Playhouse–with top shows, stars and front-row philanthropy.
The Geffen opened its doors in 1995 in a historic Westwood building adjacent to UCLA. Today, as a world-class theater, it dedicates programming to enriching cultural life in Los Angeles. In addition to attracting a broad range of acting talent and established artists, it acts as an incubator for hot new playwrights and directors. The result often are plays launched on to New York runs.
Perhaps one of the theater’s most defining and unique aspects is the volume of its community engagement. Offering accessibility to art is core to its mission. To that end, the Geffen Playhouse courts diverse audiences with its outreach, impactful programs and audience development initiatives. Therefore, patrons of this theater give back in an amazing and enriching ways.
High School Partnership Program and Geffen Literacy Project
These programs reach youth living in neighborhoods with high poverty and high rates of school attrition in Title 1 schools. The Geffen offers a chance to see each season’s play then engage in conversations with playwrights and artists after performances. Further, students work with master teaching artists in their classrooms to hone their writing and speaking skills. The Literacy Project takes this a step further in two particular schools (with more expected to join). This initiative is a yearlong tenth grade creative writing program based on the plays. This project has proven highly impactful and, to date, has put hundreds on the path to their high school diplomas.
Lights Up Program
The Geffen Playhouse engages constituents of more than 50 social service organizations with little access to theater or the arts. Senior citizens, those formerly homeless or those with serious medical challenges are among those in the outreach. Participants see each play in a season and build a sense of community through other theater activities.
Veterans Writing and Performance Project
Veterans of all ages and military backgrounds are encouraged to apply to this specialized program. Ultimately, 10 chosen to write personal monologues in a 14 week workshop at the theater perform them on the main stage each spring. The result is a heartwarming, tear-inducing and thought-provoking evening of performances based on each veteran’s real life experiences and unique lens.
Theater Access Program
The new Theater Access Program at the Geffen, or TAP as it’s known, makes mezzanine tickets available for $10 to $20, creating new and accessible pricing for a more diverse audience. High school and college students, religious groups and other nonprofits are some of the many who have benefited from this accessibility to the Geffen and its top tier performances.