Inside ‘Moonlight’ writer Tarell Alvin McCraney’s inaugural Geffen Playhouse season

Tarell Alvin McCraney, in a black T-shirt and red pants with a pink stripe, stands in front of lights onstage.
Tarell Alvin McCraney, the new artistic director of Geffen Playhouse, announces the theater’s 2024-25 season.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Geffen Playhouse Artistic Director Tarell Alvin McCraney has unveiled the lineup for his inaugural season at the helm of the city’s most prominent Westside theater.

The 2024-25 season will feature a mix of classics and new co-productions, as well as Los Angeles, West Coast and world premieres. It also debuts a strategic direction for the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, the Geffen’s intimate performance space.

“I’m someone who tends to plan ahead so I see this season as seeds in the ground,” said McCraney, the Oscar-winning “Moonlight” screenwriter and decorated playwright who was appointed in September. “It’s a primer and a foundational setting for the development work we’ll be doing on other plays that I’ll program into this season, and it’s readying us to be able to take larger swings in future seasons. So to me, it’s a call to work, to water those seeds and nurture them as best as we can.”


The L.A. theater venue will also house “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” “Kimberly Akimbo” and the Neil Diamond bio-musical “A Beautiful Noise.”

Feb. 23, 2024

The season launches with a 20th anniversary staging of McCraney’s “The Brothers Size” (Aug. 14-Sept. 8), the modern-day fable about two brothers in the Deep South that marked McCraney’s theater debut. Part of his autobiographically resonant trilogy “The Brother/Sister Plays,” the co-production with New York City’s the Shed will be directed by Bijan Sheibani.

“It’s one of the first plays I ever wrote, and it’s the first professional play I debuted, and all these years later, it’s one of my most produced works,” McCraney said of the piece, inspired by his collegiate studies on Yoruba culture and his experience of his brother’s three-year incarceration. “Yet it all came from an ancient myth, a very small story that I came across in research for a class.”

Performed in the round in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, the production is meant to establish the Geffen venue as a lab for artistic development and a platform for creative experimentation and development of new works, including workshops and readings. It will also continue as a flexible performance space for select ticketed Geffen Playhouse productions throughout the season; additional programming will be announced at a later date.

A woman in a ruched beige top looks at the camera.

Playwright and performer Sara Porkalob will portray dozens of characters in “Dragon Lady.”
(Songbird Studios)

The Gil Cates Theater will house the L.A. premiere of Sara Porkalob’s “Dragon Lady” (Sept. 4-Oct. 6). Directed by Andrew Russell, the solo show sees Porkalob embodying dozens of characters to recount her family’s remarkable origin story. “It reminded me of my early roots in theater and how compelling it is to watch someone do a virtuosic turn onstage that’s so simple and yet so difficult,” McCraney said of Porkalob.

“Her storytelling blew me away — it’s enchanting, personal and wildly funny, and I love that she’s fully up for the challenge of getting in our larger space with this intimate show.” And because it’s the first of “The Dragon Cycle” trilogy, “I’m hoping that we build a strong case to bring in more of it later on.”

Conor Lovett and Rainn Wilson will star in a reimagining of Samuel Beckett’s classic tragicomedy “Waiting for Godot” (Nov. 6-Dec. 15), directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett and produced in association with noted Beckett theater company Gare St Lazare Ireland. (While the choice is driven by Wilson’s “strong affinity” for this text, McCraney also happens to have grown up near Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse, where “Waiting for Godot” had its American premiere in 1956.)

For the record:

4:16 p.m. March 19, 2024Anna D. Shapiro is the former, not current, director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Then, it’s Michael Frayn’s beloved backstage farce “Noises Off” (Jan. 29-March 2, 2025), a co-production with Steppenwolf Theatre Company that’s helmed by its former artistic director, Anna D. Shapiro. “Steppenwolf has deep roots here at the Geffen,” said McCraney, one of many Geffen players who are also ensemble members of the Chicago theater.

The L.A. Phil announced its 2024-25 season lineup, which includes Mahler Grooves, a Seoul Festival, John Williams, Gabriela Ortiz, Zubin Mehta and more.

March 5, 2024

“We want to celebrate that, and there’s no better way to do that than to laugh at ourselves and how wild it is that people pay us to get together, imagine things and try to connect to an audience. Sometimes we get things right, and sometimes we get things wrong, but it still takes great bravery to keep getting up to do it again.”

The season continues with the West Coast premiere of a.k. payne’s “Furlough’s Paradise” (April 16-May 18, 2025). Directed by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, the play centers on estranged cousins — one on a three-day furlough from prison, another on a break from work — who reunite at a funeral and grapple with their conflicting memories of the past and their shared hopes for the future.


“As a person whose family was greatly affected by incarceration, I want a place for families to be able to come into the theater and imagine what it’s like to work through incarceration to something else,” said McCraney.

“This play is poetic and funny, but it’s also charting what it means to try to find a utopia in a world that has a criminal justice system that is far from perfect.” And payne, also a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, “was one of my students, and probably one of the most powerful writers I’ve encountered in my time as a professor.”

Jake Brasch, in a green turtleneck sweater and red-framed glasses, smiles at the camera.

Playwright Jake Brasch’s “The Reservoir” follows a recent college graduate on the road to recovery.
(Thomas Brunot)

The season wraps up with the world premiere of Jake Brasch’s “The Reservoir” (June 18-July 20, 2025), a co-production with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. Directed by Shelley Butler, the humorous play centers on a college student who depends on his four lovable grandparents amid his struggle to stay sober after rehab.

“It’s a beautiful and arresting play, but I’m not gonna lie, I also want to have four or five actors of that age onstage at the same time, which is something that we so rarely get to do,” said McCraney. “I want younger and older generations to see themselves in this and see that there are ongoing conversations about our communities and our world that we can all be actively involved in.”