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Gil Cates, Jr. on His Dad and What Geffen Means to Him

Gil Cates, Jr. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Gil Cates, Jr. Photo by Jeff Lorch.

Just over 20 years ago, my dad, with his usual unbridled enthusiasm, told me that he was thinking about starting a nonprofit theater in Westwood. He often said that theater tells us who we are and what we might be. In picturing what the Geffen might be, he imagined a home for plays and artists that could enrich the cultural life of Los Angeles and inspire its inhabitants. And 20 years later, that’s exactly what Geffen Playhouse is doing.

A few years ago, when Frank Mancuso asked me to join the Board of Directors, he knew something that I was yet to learn — that playing a role in the future of the Geffen and building on what my dad started, would become a vital part of my life. After producing our annual Backstage at the Geffen event, and helping to launch the Geffen Playhouse Legacy Fund to ensure the future of the theater, it became clear to me what Frank had known for years — that my love for this organization would drive and inspire me beyond measure.

I have loved the Geffen for 20 years. I love the people who work in the theater, the audiences who join us each night, and the students, veterans, and countless others whose lives have been enriched by the art. But the work is only beginning. We must continue asking who we are and what we might be. This question will propel us into the next 20 years.

As my dad loved to say, “Onward and upward with the arts!” And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

These Paper Bullets! begins in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse on September 7. To purchase tickets, please click here.