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The Communi t y A report on the impact of your generosity on the children, youth, adults, schools, and communities served through the Geffen Playhouse’s Education & Outreach Programs (2012-2013).


Photo: Jeff Lorch

From all of us who love and treasure this organization and the people we serve, our profound gratitude to you.

Dear Supporter of the Geffen Playhouse, We have assembled this report for you to capture how your generosity to the Geffen Playhouse this past year translated into solid new levels of hope, achievement, connection, and courage for the most disadvantaged and disenfranchised of Los Angeles. We could fill the Rose Bowl with the letters of gratitude we received from those who were able to be part of the Geffen because of your philanthropy, your compassion and your investment in their lives. Some of the testimonials you won’t believe. How often does a teenager (or anyone) say, “I want to do this (work) all day long!” when referring to deconstructing a play and writing, or “The only thing you could do to improve this program is offer more food” (after a year-long, highly demanding and rigorous program)? To add to the testimonials that follow, I offer my own here. I have been a part of the Geffen for over seven years. This last year was by far the year of which I am most proud, not only in the artistic excellence that was achieved on stage, including the tremendous success of our new Spotlight Series, but also in the excellence in the quality, depth and outcomes of our Education Programs. We questioned the long-held assumption that the number one priority was to “expose as many children and adults as possible to live theater.” Instead, we forced ourselves to have the discipline and focus to work towards a higher purpose – to bring lasting, distinctive impact to the people served – even if it meant serving less children and adults overall. We have spent the year building a

team of outstanding experts in the fields of education, literacy, arts integration, and more who have helped us develop state-ofthe-art, high quality programming that responds to urgent human needs, changes lives, builds futures, and improves the quality and joy of life for all of us. I am especially proud of the new Mendez Project, the two new training institutes for teachers and teaching artists that were developed in collaboration with the UCLA Graduate School of Education, and the growing partnership we have with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools to work together to bring new levels of support and achievement to LA’s most profoundly disadvantaged schools and students. In signing this, my seventh and final education report as Board Chair, I want to thank you for everything you have given to invest in the Geffen’s Education Programs and the lives of children and adults we serve. I thank my fellow Board Members for their commitment not only to our work on stage but also to the critical, one-of-a-kind and powerful work we do in the community. I thank our incredible staff that goes above and beyond (365 days a year), and to all of the outstanding teachers, principals, teaching artists, and other artists who work so hard with our staff to make our theater as responsive, relevant, and impactful as possible. I also invite you to join me in welcoming Martha Henderson and Pamela Robinson Hollander as the new Board Co-Chairs. With gratitude and warm regards,

Frank Mancuso, Chairman Emeritus, Geffen Playhouse

Tabl e of Contents Your impact on YOUNG CHILDREN, TEACHERS & SCHOOLS

Your impact on YOUTH & YOUNG ADULTS


/ 29



Your impact on VETERANS

/ 47

/ 83

/ 91

Your impact on ADULTS & SENIORS

/ 103

Artists you brought into the lives of the 15,000 children, youth and adults served

Gratitude from the Geffen Playhouse Board and Advisory Board

/ 118

/ 113


YOuR iMPACT On YOunG ChildREn served through the Geffen Playhouse Story Pirates Residency Program for Title 1 Elementary Schools

Photo: Jeff Lorch

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F o R T he Mo S T u n De RS e Rv e D C hi l DRe n o F lo S an Ge l eS , a y e aR- Ro u n D Cla SS Ro o M PR o GRaM Th aT ju M PS TaRTS T he i R a bi l iTy To Th in k, w Ri Te & aCh i ev e

about the Geffen Pl a yhouse Story Pi r ates Resi d ency Program: 81 actors — highly-talented, expertly-trained, passionate about helping disadvantaged youth uncover the joy of creativity and writing. 30+ educators — entrepreneurial and open to new methods for engaging students in learning how to write. One-of-a-kind curriculum developed by literacy experts and masters in creative teaching and student-centered learning. Quality classroom time with the Story Pirates who dramatically demonstrate writing concepts that engage even the most reluctant and struggling students.

Year-long residencies that build on learning, immerse students in writing, infuse them with encouragement and reinforcement in writing, challenge their imaginations and more.

Performances of students’ stories in front of the whole school to celebrate and showcase the writing and creativity of the children like nothing else can.

Workshops for parents

in which they learn techniques that can be used at home to support their children’s writing.

Professional development for teachers who want practice in implementing Story Pirates’ techniques. 3rd & 5th graders attending Title 1 Schools whose achievements in creativity and writing help propel them for life. Geffen Pl a yhouse Story Pi r ates Resi d ency Program - 7


Feedback from Teachers:


magic of the Story Pirates and their ability to engage students and cultivate a passion for writing is undeniable. The

5th Grade Teacher, Toluca Lake Elementary

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began to write because they wanted to,

not just because they had to. 5th Grade Teacher, Toluca Lake Elementary

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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Student interest in writing when the

Geffen Playhouse Story Pirates came to my classroom. 5th Grade Teacher Toluca Lake Elementary

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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“ for the first time in their lives. Struggling students

began to use writing as a means to express their thoughts

5th Grade Teacher, Toluca Lake Elementary

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Photo: Jeff Lorch

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YOuR iMPACT On YOunG ChildREn Before this program, one of my students often told me, “I hate writing.” He was below

in writing and

grade level

getting him to write was like pulling teeth.

I was shocked when he told me, ‘I love writing now. I want to write more.’

After the Story Pirates’ first week with us,

When I looked at his superhero story,

he wrote more than he had ever

written and with a strongly creative plot line. Throughout the year, he worked hard on his writing, and by the year’s end, he was above grade level in writing. Without this program, this improvement would not have happened. 5th Grade Teacher, Toluca Lake Elementary

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Photo: Jeff Lorch

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YOuR iMPACT On YOunG ChildREn The Geffen Playhouse Story Pirates Program

broke barriers of students’ inhibitions

to express themselves through oral language and written language in a creative manner. Story Pirates

successful in encouraging all students, even English Language Learners and those with Special Needs, to participate. were

They were accepting of all students’ contributions in a positive way.

For example, I

observed one particular student with special needs in the areas of writing and severe behavior/focus issues become

highly motivated and engaged in all activities. He was readily

participating, contributing his thoughts and ideas and seemed

pleased with the acceptance and positive feedback.

3rd Grade Teacher, Nora Sterry Elementary

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YOuR iMPACT On TEAChERS Just as significant as increasing my students’ love and excitement for writing, I feel like this program taught me how to teach writing.

I have been teaching writing for 13 years, but writing is my big instructional weakness. I learned how to stir up my students’ creativity, structure their writing, and make writing fun.

I will take what I learned about writing from this program for the rest of my teaching career. Dr. Elizabeth Martinez 3rd Grade Teacher Lorena Street Elementary

” Photo: Jeff Lorch

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The Story Pirates inspire me to be a better teacher. They make me want to work harder to integrate writing throughout the curriculum. I find myself searching for new opportunities to make meaningful connections with students that will encourage them to write. In addition, I

find myself more aware of how I interact with students in regard to their writing.

In particular, I try harder now to put forth a positive, enthusiastic attitude towards writing projects ...

to make it fun for them rather than intimidating. 5th Grade Teacher, Toluca Lake Elementary

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YOuR iMPACT On TEAChERS I have always struggled with teaching the revision and editing aspects of the writing process, but now I have techniques that make it easy for my students to apply to their writing. No longer do my students say, ‘I'm done’ after writing their rough drafts.

They now understand that there are more phases that need to be incorporated before their final draft is completed. 3rd Grade Teacher, Rockdale Elementary

The Geffen Playhouse Story Pirates Program is a brilliant program that gets

our kids thinking about themselves as successful creative thinkers and writers in a whole new way. Your

models for teachers vivid examples of effective arts integration in the classrooms.

in-school programming invigorates

our students, and

3rd Grade Teacher, Lorena Street Elementary

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Photos: Jeff Lorch



This program keeps me motivated as a teacher. It engages me in the learning process. I forget for a minute that students struggle with reading and witness classroom transformation even if only for an hour. 3rd Grade Teacher, Lorena Street Elementary

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Photo: Jeff Lorch

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YOuR iMPACT On EnTiRE SChOOlS This program has not only had significant impact on the individual students who have participated, but

it has actually changed our school culture. When the Story Pirates set foot on campus, everyone knows who they are. Students gravitate towards them and are eager for the writing work in the classrooms to begin.

I’ve never seen a program captivate students like this in my 20+ years in education. And students are now sharing that enthusiasm for the Story Pirates and for writing at home with their parents. It’s incredibly inspiring to

see the work being carried over from the classroom to the home, which is critical for the students’ success.

Having the Geffen Playhouse Story Pirates here for the full year-long residency program has positively changed the lives of our students, teachers and parents in long-term ways . . .

ways which we could

never have imagined. Freida Smith Principal, Nora Sterry Elementary

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Photos: Jeff Lorch

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Geffen Pl a yhouse Story Pi r ates Resi d ency Program

95% of parents indicated that they observed an increase in their child’s interest in writing. Geffen Pl a yhouse Story Pi r ates Resi d ency Program - 23

Photos: Jeff Lorch

Geffen Pl aPlyhouse a yhouse Story Story Pi Pir ates r ates ResiResid ency d ency Program Program 24 - Geffen

95% of parents indicated that since the program began they’ve observed an increase in their child’s interest in school overall.

GeffenGeffen Pl a yhousePl a yhouse Story Story Pi r atesPi rResi atesd ency Resi d Program ency Program - 25

96% of parents reported that they learned activities related to writing that they will do with their child at home and reported they would practice using vocabulary words at home as well.

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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Geffen Pl a yhouse Story Pi r ates Resi d ency Program

100% of parents indicated that they were satisďŹ ed with the parent workshop experience, and all parents agreed they would recommend the workshops to other parents. Geffen Geffen Pl a yhousePl a yhouse Story PiStory r ates PiResi - 27 r atesd encyResiProgram d ency Program

This is an amazing partnership that brings schools, community organizations, and parents together.

An excellent example of shared responsibility for learning; provides a

bridge for two communities to come together — East L.A and West L.A — broadening everyone’s perspective of the world. 3rd Grade Teacher, Lorena Street Elementary Photos: Jeff Lorch

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/Thank you



Gi v i n G youTh who have veRy li T Tle i n Thei R li v eS The oPPoRTuni T y To bui l D a laSTi n G RelaTi o nShi P wi T h The GeFFen anD wi T h The PoweR oF The aRTS. 30 Photo: Jeff Lorch

about our Programmi n g for youth & young adul t s:


What it’s not: A one-time “field trip” to see a play. “Exposure” to live theater. Teaching kids how to be actors or how to write a play. What it is: Immersive, interactive, life-changing, student-centered programming built around a whole season of Geffen plays and artists — developed and delivered in collaboration with educators, master teaching artists, and arts-integration experts. Who is served: High school youth attending the most underserved and under-resourced public schools in the most depressed communities of Los Angeles County. Youth living in foster care. Young men and women of color who are living in the most economically and educationally disadvantaged communities of Los Angeles County. Geffen Pl a yhouse Programs for youth & young adul t s - 31

Photo: Jeff Lorch


Through year-round partnerships with eight public high schools, more than 800 High School youth from East Los Angeles, Watts, South Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and Westchester gained season-long opportunities to learn in and through the arts.

FEEdbACk FROM EduCATORS: The Geffen has always placed a high value in bringing quality stage performances to high school students. But what is more striking is the effort they make to enrich the student experience by creating and offering relevant and engaging lessons, workshops, and activities that heighten the impact and relevance of my students’ experience.

We have yet to leave a Geffen play or a classroom workshop where my students did not show overwhelming gratitude for the experience.

This program is one of the “ things our students will always remember and talk about ” Alan Sacks 11th Grade Teacher, Westchester High

The Geffen was the total highlight of the year!


It will inform what they do next in life. Brendan Schallert Principal, Roosevelt Academy, East Los Angeles

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The cast of Coney Island Christmas did a special performance for the youth.

We reward foster youth with recreational, cultural and educational programs and encourage them to repeat these pro-social activities

on their own, with the broader goal of their making better choices in life. Although we take them to sporting events, and other places,

it is always theater that generates the most reaction. There really is nothing else like it. Kendall Wolf, Executive Director, It’s Time For Kids

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Photo: Chelsey Rosetter


best “timethe of my life ” I had

watching this play. —J. Smith

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Magulies shares his passion for plays with students from It’s Time for Kids when they came to see our world premiere of his new play, Coney Island Christmas


ThAnk YOu FOR hElPinG uS SERvE FOSTER YOuTh Girls placed at Maryvale desperately need possibilities. Removed from their homes, they are wounded by sexual and physical abuse, neglect and abandonment, and often suffer from the effects of numerous failed placements in foster and other group home facilities. Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California applauds the Geffen’s commitment to involve students and community members in theater experiences that challenge, inform and enrich their lives.

Together, we represent a fierce determination to improve our children’s lives and possibilities. Carol Henault Executive Director Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California

“ I’m totally inspired afterward for weeks. ” When I see theater at the Geffen, I get really excited. —Lilly N, 14, Maryvale Resident, after seeing Coney Island Christmas

Photos: Chelsey Rosetter

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For almost a decade, Sheenway has been a partner to the outreaching arms of the Geffen Playhouse, witnessing

the power of theater to open the eyes and hearts of youth who are stigmatized from bland schooling, violent overlays and overwhelming self-destruction of mind and matter at every turned corner. Being exposed to the aura and climates of UCLA, Westwood Village, and the many theatrical journeys of the Geffen Playhouse, young people who would never venture from the bleak radius of their neighborhood, find,

Dolores Sheen is an amazing woman who leads the Sheenway School, an institution founded by her father, Herbert Sheen, M.D., 42 years ago, to provide positive educations and alternatives for youth in Watts.

not only a vehicle to define their potentials, but their true inner selves, as they make spiritual journeys to maturation and development. It is such a magical experience to see the “bling-bling” diminish, pants fitting around the waist, sparked conversations delving into the mind and matter of playwrights and productions, the growth of attention spans, the appreciation of poetry and literature, kinder and gentler socialization, expanded interests, escalated reading and writing, improved academic achievements, meaningful communication, and most of all, continued inspiration as we

witness the metamorphosis of long-neglected youth, one by one! Dolores Sheen Executive Director/Principal Sheenway School, Watts, South Los Angeles

Geffen Pl a yhouse Programs for youth & young adul t s - 37


Photo: Jeff Lorch


Zeta Rho is a community-based public charity with a mission focused on uplifting and empowering young minority men through education, mentoring, and scholarships for college education.

Thank you to the Geffen’s donors and Board for allowing We can think of that makes such an important cultural

the young people Zeta Rho Foundation serves to experience live theater.

no other institution

contribution to our community. Most of our young people (African American and Hispanic) have never been to a theater production. They have never rubbed shoulders with other cultures.

They have never experienced the

arts in such a setting as the Geffen Playhouse. They get involved in the plots and characters so much that

they discuss for weeks what they felt. Without the contributions of your donors, these wonderful life experiences never would have happened. Because of your programming, our efforts to build the character of inner city youth and help them become well-rounded citizens are made much easier. Lou Beatty, Jr., Zeta Rho Foundation Representative

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Photos: Michael Lamont

Photos: Michael Lamont

Thank you for giving youth with little or no access to the arts the opportunity to experience By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, by Lynn Nottage and starring: (clockwise from upper left) Kevin T. Carroll, Sanaa Lathan, Merle Dandridge, Amanda Detmer, Mather Zickel and Spencer Garrett).


I have brought hundreds of students to the Geffen. This program gives

The donors who generously give to make this possible need to know that they have touched and changed the lives of these young people. As a teacher, I am deeply them an experience they will never forget.

grateful for this program.


Jim Pentecost Teacher, Santee Education Complex South Los Angeles

Mather Zickel greets 10th grade student from Mendez High School; Kevin T. Carroll answers questions from Westchester High students.

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Photos: Michael Lamont

Your support gave over 400 high school students from the most disadvantaged parts of Los Angeles the opportunity to experience The Gift, by Joanna Murray-Smith, and starring (clockwise from top right) Kathy Baker, James Van Der Beek, Jaime Ray Newman, and Chris Mulkey.

“ “

IMPACT On yOuTh Of seeIng “The gIfT”

This play provoked me to discover and reason with ideals I was sort of raised to neglect. The idea of leaving a child behind at an older age was radical and unimaginable. However,

I liked being able to see a

different side to things and weigh out the pros and cons. Although I still defy this idea, it was an amazing experience to be able to watch and discuss the play after. Elizabeth G., student,Westchester High School

The Gift was an insightful look into the relationships of two couples. The play touched on a number of human qualities like pride, true love, understanding, empathy, and change. The play left me What makes a person a good person? And can a person really change their lives? Jasper F., student, Westchester High School

with two questions:

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Photos: Michael Lamont

About 400 high school students who had never before seen a live play experienced our critically-acclaimed production of David Mamet’s classic American Buffalo, starring (as pictured in top left photo) Bill Smitrovich, Freddy Rodriguez, and Ron Eldard.

IMPACT On yOuTh Of seeIng “AMerICAn buffAlO”

Buffalo is the first play I've ever gone to. It passed my “ American expectations of what I thought it was going to be like. The play was very realistic. The actors were spot

on in attracting the audience's attention.

play was really good. Throughout the play I was very drawn into it. “ The This play really made me like plays. ” —Gabriel G., 11th grade student, Mendez High School

—Cameron Y., 11th grade student, Westchester High School

American Buffalo was a great play. We have all been through betrayal by friendship. It spoke to everyone that way.

“ The play, the actors, being here had a huge impact on me.” —Arlyn M., 12th grade student, Manual Arts High School

—Lizbeth D., 12th grade student, Manual Arts High School

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ThAnk yOu fOr gIvIng sO MAny dIsAdvAnTAged yOuTh nOT jusT One-Off exPerIenCes Or “exPOsure” TO TheATer buT seAsOn-lOng, In-dePTh And ChAllengIng PrOgrAMMIng ThAT ChAnges lIves And fuTures

Photos: Jeff Lorch


/Thank you

IMPACT Of yOur suPPOrT In brIngIng A hIghly-PrOMIsIng new PrOgrAM TO lIfe:

“The Mendez PRojecT”

Geffen Pl a yhouse Mendez Project - 47

AbOuT “The Mendez PrOjeCT”

About “The Mendez Project” who:

The entire 10th grade class at Mendez High, a majority of whom were at risk for failing the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and dropping out of high school.


A year-long intervention built around the novel experiences of attending each Geffen play, working with Geffen master teaching artists who help students develop solid critical thinking and expression skills through studies of each play, and intensive time with UCLA writing coaches during which students gain explicit tools for writing, rigorous supported writing practice and individualized feedback. This powerful three-pronged learning opportunity releases 10th graders from their fears about writing and accelerates their ability to learn how to write well, for high school and for life.


During the school day, in four modules of learning from September to March (to prepare them for the CAHSEE in March), followed by a celebration in June.


Classrooms in Boyle Heights and at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.


Because too many 10th graders across Los Angeles drop out of high school in large part because they believe they will never be able to write well enough to pass the CAHEE; because all youth need to know how to write; because we know the costs are high for all of us when youth abandon education; because we know the power of the arts to change lives.

Geffen Pl a yhouse Mendez Project - 49

Thanks to your support,

Photos: Jeff Lorch

10th graders . . . attending a high school with a history of being one of lowest performing in l.A. (In the bottom 5% of all high schools in LA County) who had profound gaps in literacy due in large part to ineffective learning experiences in elementary and middle school, living in an area where more than 50% of their peers drop out of high school, living where over 60% of the adults have less than a high school degree, and where less than 5% obtained a college degree, many of whom so lacked skills and conďŹ dence as writers that they could only write a few sentences in response to a prompt, who much of the world might have given up on (because they were so far behind) . . .

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Achieved this: helped bring their school’s Academic Performance (API) up 76 points. Helped make their school the #1 most improved public high school in the state of California. Geffen Pl a yhouse Mendez Proj e ct doubled the percentage of 10th graders who achieved proficiency in english language Arts (compared to their counterparts from the previous year). broke every previous record for the percentage of students at their school passing the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on their first try — ensuring that more than 70% are now on track to graduate from high school.

But wait, there’s more (please see next page):


Geffen Pl a yhouse Mendez Project - 53

students in september: gave few or no responses when asked a question.

by the end of the year:


Actively participated in discussions about plays.


responded to questions asking them to offer their own opinions and/or to provide evidence from a play to support their opinions.

weren’t willing to express their own thoughts about a play in front of the whole class.


Actively participated in meaningful and reflective discussions with their peers.

had very little ability to focus in the classroom.


had the ability to concentrate and focus significantly better.


had new insights about themselves and their abilities.


students wrote essays that were thoughtful and coherent.


The details, depth and complexity of their writing increased significantly.


now feel the geffen (and the arts) are resources that they and their families have in their lives.

had zero to little confidence in their own thoughts about a play.

didn’t think they had the capacity to ever learn how to write. student writing was disorganized.

student writing was simplistic.

didn’t think they belonged at the geffen Playhouse.

How it all happened: 1. 2.

A donor introduced us to Joan Sullivan (then Deputy LA Mayor of Education) who introduced us to The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit focused on turning around the lowest performing schools . . . A strong partnership developed with The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, who asked us to work with one of its most underserved schools, Mendez High School, and brought us to meet with . . .


A highly entrepreneurial young principal, Mauro Bautista, who thought of a brilliant new way to leverage Geffen Playhouse assets to unfreeze and jumpstart the achievement of his students, who we introduced to . . .


Randy Arney, our Artistic Director, who threw open the doors to Geffen plays and artists to make this program possible, and inspired countless students, educators and others throughout the year including . . .


Jennifer Zakkai, arts education expert (who came highly recommended by the L.A. County Arts Commission), who helped us build a rigorous, student-centered program in collaboration with an exemplary team that includes: • • • • • • •


Mendez High School Teachers and Principals, including Teacher Leader Peter Olson, Shervaughnna Anderson-Demiraz and her colleagues from the UCLA Graduate School of Education, Geffen Playhouse Master Teaching Artists, Retired Teachers identified as Literacy Leaders by UCLA who served as Writing Coaches, Stakeholders from the Boyle Heights/Mendez community, including students and parents, Leaders from the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, Evaluators from Vital Research.

People like you who believe in — and invest in — the potential within all young people AND in the transformative power of the arts.

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Photos: Jeff Lorch

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frOM The PrInCIPAl: The Geffen Playhouse answered our call for help. The organization worked with us to develop a year-long runway of theater experiences and classroom work with teaching artists and literacy experts from UCLA to gradually build our students’ comfort and success with writing and critical thinking — skills that will jet propel them for life.

My deepest gratitude to all of the donors to the Geffen who made this outstanding program possible for our students. We have to share

this model and get it out to more schools and students across Los Angeles. Mauro Bautista Principal, Mendez High School

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frOM The sTudenTs:


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Before the Geffen came, I hated writing. Thanks to this program, I now write a lot more, and I read a lot more, too. It has helped me improve my writing and reading a lot, and it


has inspired me to be open to new experiences, to the new worlds that the plays can take you to.

Photos: Jeff Lorch

Before this program, if my teachers told me I had to write something, I wouldn’t

know how to start.

But because we

went through this program — going to the Geffen to see plays and everything we did with them in class — I have an idea how to start an essay and how to use examples. I now know how to express myself

in a writing assignment.

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frOM The sTudenTs:

This program showed me a way to express myself, to give my ideas on

Now I have an imagination of my own rather than somebody else


telling me how or what to think.

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What meant the most to me? Being able to interact with the teaching artists. The fact that they came to help us to become better writers is amazing.

Just knowing that there are people out there willing to help students improve.


Photos: Jeff Lorch

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frOM The TeAChers:

Photo: Jeff Lorch

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This has been my first year teaching English Language Arts at Mendez, and the

experience has been

incomparable to my previous teaching experiences at other schools, thanks in large part to our partnership with the Geffen Playhouse. It has been eye-opening to partner with a theater arts organization of this caliber that has created such a strong synthesis among education experts and professional teaching artists. I’ve collaborated all year with the Geffen Playhouse Teaching Artists, writing coaches from UCLA and with the Geffen’s Project Director, Jennifer Zakkai, to weave this project curriculum into my 10th grade classroom curriculum. I’ve seen firsthand the positive changes this program has had on my students, specifically that they are now more confident writers and more comfortable with a variety of writing prompts, thesis statement development and coherent paragraph organization. This is a huge feat, considering that many of my students were below proficient in English Language Arts at the beginning of the school year and therefore

struggled greatly with their writing skills. This school year was a tremendous growing experience for me as an educator. It has been inspiring to work with the UCLA writing coaches and to learn hands-on strategies for how to teach writing more effectively and how to incorporate these strategies into my teaching practice. I

have gained valuable teaching tools that I’ll implement in my classroom for years to come.

Peter Olson English Language Arts Teacher Mendez High School

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frOM The TeAChers:



The students now realize that they are pursuing something very important. When the Literacy Coaches work with and talk directly to them, the students recognize credibility. The Literacy Coaches reinforce the idea that the students are worthy of the high standards and expectations we have for them.

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Photos: Jeff Lorch


This program has changed them dramatically.


Seeing so many plays has opened them up, opened their thinking up about the vastness that is out there. I already see them reading more, writing more.

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frOM The TeAChers: The benefits of seeing more than one play is one of the most significant elements of this program.

Students’ lives are changed; they now know more not only about theater, but that there are modalities of human experience that warrant their attention.

This is absolutely life-changing and

develops an intellectual sensibility for them. They will now be able to connect this experience to their lives as well as their roles as students.

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I’ve seen a huge change in the students, in their confidence.

Before this, no student would ever dare speak out to offer their opinion about something. They would be laughed at or made fun of.

The whole climate in the classroom has changed. They are expressing their thoughts out loud. Now they are even trying to help each other with their writing.

” Photos: Jeff Lorch

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frOM Our TeAChIng ArTIsTs

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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Jesse Bliss, Rob Adler, Denise Iketani, Connor White, Shervaughnna Anderson-Demiraz (UCLA), Corky Dominguez, Jennifer Zakkai (Project Leader), Carla White, and Kristina Leach.

At the beginning of the year, there was a

student who clearly did not want us to be there. His arms

were crossed and he appeared completely disinterested. For the first few classroom sessions, he participated minimally and made

one day he began to actively participate, and then things began to change. He began to smile and relax. Then he started contributing wonderfully creative ideas.

disruptive comments. However,

After the next session, I told him he was doing great work and asked if he had done theater before.

His face lit up with

pride. When I mentioned this student’s progress to his teacher, he told me the student had recently been incarcerated and was trying hard to make positive choices at school.

I know that without programs like the Mendez Project some students don’t have enough ‘good’ choices to choose from. I believe the Arts make a difference and the Arts can change lives and, sometimes even save them. Denise Iketani Teaching Artist

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At its best, all theater is about transformation. As a director and coach in the professional world, I am constantly working with people who have had a transformative experience with the

what the Geffen gives to the students in the Mendez Project has been nothing short of revolutionary. theater;

Rob Adler Teaching Artist


Photos: Jeff Lorch

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“This work accesses the highest

learning capabilities of students and awakens in them an unparalleled excitement for learning. Participants not only accelerate academically and literarily, but are also open to the endless

This is the greatest gift any youth could ever receive and it is immeasurably powerful to witness this process in our students. It is a deep honor

possibilities of life and learning.

to be part of the Geffen. Jesse Bliss Teaching Artist


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experience I’ve had with the “The students has been unbelievable.

Walking into a classroom of students where so few of them have ever seen a play, sharing a play’s themes with them and watching them walk into the Geffen to see the production is amazing enough. However,

after they’ve seen the play — witnessing

the light go on

in them— is immeasurable. Our program opens their eyes to many different worlds besides their own.

Kristina Leach Teaching Artist

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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Having grown up in East Los Angeles, I am deeply committed to working in Boyle Heights. With all the preparation leading up to seeing the plays, the plays themselves, and the post-play classroom work with teaching artists and literacy coaches, I know the Geffen Playhouse is making


a huge impact on the students and community. I am very honored to part of the Geffen Playhouse Education Programs and this project. Corky Dominguez, Teaching Artist

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frOM The uClA grAduATe sChOOl Of eduCATIOn We are proud to be partnering with the Geffen Playhouse in developing and implementing “The Mendez Project.” We are a community of educators working to transform public schooling to create a more just, equitable, and humane society. Our mission— to dramatically change schooling for the most underserved students of Los Angeles — is aligned perfectly with the Geffen’s belief that theater can be used as a tool for accelerating the learning and achievement of Los Angeles’ most economically and educationally disadvantaged youth. I have worked closely with the Geffen for over a year now to help develop writing curriculum, as well as two summer institutes to provide professional development for the teachers and teaching artists engaged in the Mendez Project.

Geffen Pl a yhouse Mendez Projectto see how the Geffen has collaborated so successfully with It is inspiring education experts and has used a full season of plays to weave theater arts and literacy together in such an innovative way. I’ve never seen an arts education program like this before, nor have I seen a professional theater that is as committed to literacy as the Geffen Playhouse. Shervaughnna Anderson-Demiraz Director, California Reading and Literature Project UCLA Graduate School of Education, Center X

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Before becoming a leader at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, Shervaughnna Anderson-Demiraz was a K-12 English Language Arts Consultant for the LA County Office of Education. She is a former teacher, coach, site and district level administrator. She serves on state committees concerning English Language Arts, English Language Learners, and instructional practices for African American students.

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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feedbACk frOM The uClA wrITIng COAChes

My driving passion is creating avenues of success for both students and teachers, no matter the challenge. Successful students and successful teachers are inextricably bound. But teachers need support. Teaching can be a lonely and frightening experience

I relish the chance to create innovative ways to motivate and engage students and teachers. I refuse to be daunted by the challenges.

without support.

Helping the children at Mendez has confirmed the truth contained in the words of author, James Agee: ‘In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again.’ Johnetta Fleming, Retired Teacher (20 yrs+) Teacher Leader, UCLA’s Center X California Reading & Literacy Project

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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It has been a profoundly inspiring collaboration to work as a literacy consultant with The Geffen Playhouse Mendez Project in Boyle Heights. I’ve partnered and planned with committed teachers willing to engage students in critical literacy skills and theater experiences, then witnessed

students actively employ and advance their critical thinking and writing skills in preparation for college and future goals for life. The Project was extraordinarily empowering for the 10th grade students.

I am deeply thankful for all the supporters of Geffen Playhouse Mendez Project who created such tremendously rich opportunities for underserved students of Los Angeles. Lois Clark Teacher Leader, UCLA’s Center X California Reading & Literature Project

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feedbACk AbOuT Our PrOfessIOnAl develOPMenT

As a teacher and writing coach, the Geffen’s Summer Institute provided me with real

world strategies and techniques that I could use immediately in my classroom to

improve my students’ critical thinking and writing skills. The hands-on approach and group interactions allowed me to practice the strategies prior to delivering them in a classroom setting. Negretta Freeman UCLA Writing Coach

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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The Geffen’s Teaching Institute was a great model for what we can do with students. I deepened

my knowledge through reading, analyzing, collaborating, and writing. We were given practical resources, which I’ve used for developing lessons for students. Resa Nikol, UCLA Writing Coach

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Prior to her post as CEO, Ms. Sullivan served as the Deputy Mayor of Education for Los Angeles. In that role, she oversaw Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s education policy agenda, working closely with the superintendent and board president to transform the nation’s second largest school district. She also oversaw the Partnership to accelerate student achievement at scale within the district’s lowest performing schools. Ms. Sullivan previously spent over a decade in the South Bronx as the founding principal of a high-poverty, high-performing public secondary school and as a high school social studies teacher, helping during this time to create and support a network of small public schools. Ms. Sullivan is a graduate of the Broad Fellowship for Education Leadership, holds a Masters of Science in School Leadership, and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in American Studies from Yale. Photo: Jeff Lorch

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frOM Our PArTners AT The PArTnershIP fOr lOs Angeles sChOOls We’ve had nothing but positive reviews about this project from the students, the principal, teachers and staff at Mendez High School. Principal Bautista has shared that this innovative partnership with the Geffen has helped his 10th graders perform better on the essay portion of the CAHSEE and has

been vital to his students’ improved achievements in literacy.

Mendez 10th grade teachers also have been impressed with how much they have learned from collaborating with the Geffen’s Project Director, Literacy Coaches and Teaching Artists. In addition, we are so grateful for the investment the Geffen has made in handpicking Literacy Coaches from UCLA’s Center X to work individually with 10th graders at Mendez. This

kind of customized work and dedication truly has boosted these students’ expectations of themselves. We at the Partnership believe it is critical to bring key community resources into the lives of our students in order to enrich learning and create an environment of success for students who are at some of the highest-need schools in Los Angeles. Our partnership with the Geffen Playhouse has done just that and so much more . . .

more than we could’ve asked for our students, teachers and school community. Joan Sullivan, CEO Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

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We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jennifer Zakkai, the expert we hired to lead the Mendez Project. She came highly recommended to us by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and

exceeded our expectations in every way. The quality and level of thought she put into every detail of the Mendez Project — building it from the ground up — and at all times with a laser focus on what would be best and most effective for the students and teachers served, is unparalleled. She has set a standard for excellence that has clearly impacted not only the students but also all of our Education Programs at the Geffen.

Our deepest gratitude to Jennifer, and to all of the Geffen donors who have helped make her time and work here possible.

Regina Miller Geffen Playhouse Board Member, Executive Team Member, and Chief Development Officer

Photos: Jeff Lorch

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/ Thank you

yOur IMPACT On uClA COllege sTudenTs

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MASTeR cLASSeS foR UcLA STUdenTS Photo: Jeff Lorch


About our I n credi b l e Partnershi p wi t h UcLA From day one (about 20 years ago when Gil Cates and Chancellor Charles E. Young started this organization) the Geffen Playhouse has been incredibly fortunate to be formally affiliated with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT). Our partnership includes outstanding opportunities for uClA undergraduate and graduate students to: Take master classes with world-class actors, playwrights and directors. (Thousands of UCLA students have attended Geffen master classes given by Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Allison Pill, Donald Margulies, Neil LaBute, David Mamet, Randy Arney, Gil Cates, and many others). gain real world experience through professional internships in directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, acting, stage management, production management, lighting, sound, public relations, arts education, development, marketing and more. (120 students have had internships at the Geffen since 1995). employment. At least 25 UCLA students a year are employed by the Geffen in positions that give them paid experiences as members of our Box Office, Front of House, Production and other teams. special access. Complimentary tickets to dress rehearsals, and preview nights; low cost tickets for all regular main stage shows; invitations to special readings and workshops; performance space for showcases. (Annually, more than 1,000 UCLA students attend performances at the Geffen, thanks to your generosity.)

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IMPACT On uClA sTudenTs Interning at the Geffen Playhouse has been an incredible experience. I am currently in my second year in the MFA Playwriting Program at UCLA and had been on the hunt for a theater internship in the area. Film and television internships abound, but finding placement in a professional, high-caliber theater in Los Angeles can be difficult. From the very first day interning at the Geffen I felt like a valued part of the theater community working behind the scenes. I fully expected to be making copies or answering phones, but from the get go I have never been given anything menial to do. I get to be a part of everything that happens in Literary, and the Geffen as a whole. I read plays daily. When I have an opinion about something the people around me actually listen and take what I say to heart. It is incredible to work in not just a theater community, but a thriving theater community, one that has unwavering standards of excellence and attracts some of the best talent in the industry.

As a student of Playwriting it is a daily education in how to write a play that grabs a reader’s attention. And

as a young theater professional it is an education in what the contemporary American theater landscape truly looks like. It is an incredible opportunity for UCLA students to study theater right next door to a world class stage. Nick Johnson UCLA Graduate Student


I n TeRnShI P S foR UcLA STUdenTS

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jobs for ucla students

Photo: Jeff Lorch




The Geffen Playhouse was my home during my time at UCLA and for years after. It's hard for me to put in words how much this theater means to me. Not only did I learn from watching the best at my craft every night on stage, but I got to have life-changing conversations and interactions with them pre- and post-show while working

I would not be where I am today without those experiences and the knowledge I gained. the front of house. It taught me so much.


But most importantly the staff of the Geffen were the most loving, supportive, kind, giving people I have ever encountered. I truly consider them my family and always will. There is an immediate warmth and inner happiness I feel every time I enter the Geffen. I'm proud to call it my second home. Beth Behrs

UCLA Graduate Former Employee of the Geffen Playhouse Star of Two Broke Girls on CBS Recently elected to the Geffen Playhouse Board

Photo: CBS

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ucla students see plays at the geffen

Photo: Steve Sann

A group of 40 enthusiastic UCLA students from Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and their guests attend a play at the Geffen. After the show, nearly every one of them vowed to return to the Geffen to see another play during the season...especially when they learned that they can purchase Student Rush Tickets (one hour before the show) for just $10 with their Bruin Card ID. Alumni advisor and longtime Geffen supporter, Steve Sann, Chairman of the Westwood Community Council, (pictured above at far right, above) organized this event for the third consecutive year.


Your generosity helped more than 1,000 UCLA students this year attend plays at the Geffen for less than the price of a movie ticket.

/thank you


Photo: Jeff Lorch

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AbOUT ThE gEffEN PLAYhOUSE’S vETErANS OUTrEACh PrOgrAM For many years, we partnered with two local organizations serving veterans to give their constituents season-long access to our main stage plays and accompanying education programs. Veterans from New Directions and the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital have shared countless evenings at the Geffen, thoroughly enjoying the experience of being out in the community, seeing plays that both challenge them and stimulate conversation and catharsis, and more. But this past year, inspired by our Board Chair, Frank Mancuso, and Gary Sinise, the actor who founded a program for veterans at Steppenwolf in Chicago, both of whom are passionate about the Geffen doing significantly more outreach and service to veterans and their families, we doubled our commitment and service to this very special population. We have reached out to additional outstanding organizations serving veterans including UCLA’s Operation MEND, the United States Veterans’ Artists Alliance, Serve the Warrior, Gallant Few, Veterans in Film and Television, and to others already served by the Gary Sinise Foundation. We developed partnerships with these organizations which will eventually enable us to formally serve over 400 veterans and their spouses and children a year, free of charge, with outstanding programs that welcome them home with the honor, compassion and celebration they so clearly deserve. We are now offering not only free tickets but also a private, pre-show dinner in our Lobby for veterans and their families on the night of the final dress rehearsal for each Geffen Playhouse main stage production. We also formally joined the Blue Star Theatres Program, whereby the Geffen Playhouse is now one of eight theaters in California that offers any veteran or military family free tickets to plays, classes and other services. This initiative is intended to recognize the contributions of service families, to build stronger connections between the theater community and military families in communities all across the country and to help in whatever small way we can to aid service people and their families as they seek to be integrated into the lives of their communities. We could not have expanded our services to veterans and their families without your support. On behalf of each and every person who was able to come to the Geffen because of your generosity, our deepest gratitude.


On behalf of each and every veteran who was able to participate in this program because of your generosity, our deepest gratitude.

your support brought “sheer joy” to Veterans

Photo: Jeff Lorch

A Korean War Veteran attends a “Vets Night at the Geffen” — excited to be one of the first to see Yes, Prime Minister last Spring.


YOUr SUPPOrT INSPIrES AND hONOrS vETErANS & ThEIr fAMILIES Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted. We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security.

While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more. I am so proud that the Gary Sinise Foundation is partnering with the Geffen Playhouse. The Geffen’s plays are a cornerstone of our Arts & Entertainment outreach here in Los Angeles. We’re honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families, by providing them with inspiring cultural experiences throughout the year.

My deepest appreciation to Geffen supporters who make our Veteran’s Nights possible. Thanks

to you, our nation’s veterans may experience the joy of live theater absolutely free of charge.

Gary Sinise, Founder, The Gary Sinise Foundation


President John F. Kennedy, a decorated World War II veteran once said, “I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle . . . but for our contribution to the human spirit.”

Photos: Jordan Schwartz

the fi r st to see each play

a bi g welcome di n ner together

meet & greet the arti s ts Closewise from top left: Gil Cates, Jr., (Geffen Vice Chair), Randy Arney (Artistic Dir.), and Stacy Taylor (Gary Sinise Foundation Dev. Dir.) welcome veterans; Veterans attend special ďŹ nal dress rehearsal of American Buffalo; Dinner before the show; Regina Miller (Geffen Chief Dev. Officer), guest, Freddy Rodriguez (star of the play), Judith Otter (Exec. Dir. of the Gary Sinise Foundation) welcome Michael Schlitz, a veteran severely wounded in Iraq.

When one reaches the age of our veterans of WWII, Korean and Vietnam Wars, there are limited opportunities for sheer joy and uplifting of one’s spirits. By your generosity and inclusion of our veterans in your plays and

we are tremendously grateful that we are not forgotten. Our spirits are raised every time

programming, you have done just that, and

we are asked to join the Geffen in your magnificent theatrical performances. Thank you for enhancing and improving our quality of life.

Chaplain DOV Cohen, Veterans Home of CA, West Los Angeles United States Air Force Chaplain Vietnam Era Service 1962-1966

Photo: Jeff Lorch


“Our oldest female veteran (now 99) — having served in the Army during WWII — did not miss even one opportunity to come to the Geffen during the year.” — Chaplain Cohen

YOUr SUPPOrT brINgS COMfOrT & COMMUNITY TO ThOSE whO ArE hEALINg Through your generosity, we have been able to welcome and serve veterans receiving reconstructive care at UCLA through our partnership with UCLA’s Operation Mend Program. UCLA Operation Mend is a groundbreaking program that provides returning military personnel with severe facial and other medical injuries access to the nation’s top plastic and reconstructive surgeons, as well as comprehensive medical and mental-health support for the wounded and their families. We are honored to welcome veterans and their families to the Geffen to see plays and enjoy dinner throughout the year while they are staying at UCLA for care.

Your generosity this past year enabled us to welcome the incredible Octavio Sanchez, Marine Staff Sargeant and father of four, who suffered third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body and was left unrecognizable when a roadside bomb went off near him in Ramadi in 2005. After being told there was nothing that could be done for him, UCLA’s Operation Mend Program provided several surgeries to reconstruct his face. While in town for surgeries and/or follow-up care through this program at UCLA, we were honored to welcome Sergeant Sanchez and his wife to the Geffen. After seeing American Buffalo here last summer with his wife, Sergeant Sanchez said, Being able to come here to feel part of this community and to meet other veterans is wonderful. I was very moved to be able to meet and speak with a WWII vet at the Geffen. I am very impressed with the Geffen Playhouse. This was our first time seeing play, and will definitely not be our last!

Photo: Jordan Schwartz

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to welcome and serve such incredible people as Marine veteran Octavio Sanchez and his wife, and to work in partnership wtih UCLA’s Operation MEND program to welcome soldiers and their families from across the U.S.



Judy Gold, star of The Judy Show, greets veterans from the West LA Veterans Home after they enjoyed her outstanding show last summer thanks to your generosity.

/thank you


Photos: Jeff Lorch

We are honored to welcome members of the Mutual Amputee Aid Foundation, as well as constituents from 43 other nonproďŹ t organizationsto the Geffen Playhouse through our Lights Up Program, and the generosity of so many.


Photo: Jeff Lorch


(Pictured right) Jennifer Zakkai, Geffen Education Projects Leader, welcomes Lights Up Group Leaders for one of six meetings during the season, in which they interact with Geffen artists and practice methods for engaging their constituents in each Geffen mainstage play.

about our programmi n g for adul t s: “li g hts up” what it’s not: “Exposure” to live theater. Teaching adults how to be actors or how to write a play.

what it is: We believe that all people of all ages are entitled to experience the arts, to engage their imaginative powers, and to learn through the arts. We also realize that thousands in our community are completely left out of art experiences, not only because they cannot afford them but also because they are not aware of how to access them or even what is available. We developed Lights Up to address this gap in access to the arts and the unmet need for arts programs that serve adults, not just youth. But instead of simply opening our doors and offering free theater tickets on a first-come, first-served basis, we directed our outreach through L.A. social service organizations that serve disadvantaged and socially isolated young adults, adults and senior citizens. This past season, 44 nonprofits partnered with us to send group leaders to support the participation of constituents who have the least access to the arts and who could benefit the most from such immersive, year-round opportunities to see plays, receive and read our Study Guides, attend workshops with our teaching artists, meet and interact with Geffen playwrights, directors, designers and more.

who is served: The most underserved and disadvantaged adult populations of Los Angeles County including: • Veterans who are recovering from PTSD and other major physical and emotional challenges as a result of their service, • Seniors who are socially isolated and economically disadvantaged, • Young adults who have recently transitioned out of foster care and who are without a support system, • Adults who are transitioning out of homelessness, • Adults who are challenged by serious health or physical issues, including those living with HIV/AIDS and those who are recent amputees.

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Photo: Jeff Lorch


Jay Cramer suffered a spinal cord injury in 2006 when he fell while rock climbing. Katy Sullivan was born without legs. We are honored to work with this very inspiring couple in our Lights Up Program and to welcome all those served through the Mutual Amputee Aid Association.

“ “


I can’t begin to tell you what it means to our organization to have the opportunity to attend plays at the Geffen.

It has been such a gift to our members who feel shy about being out in public after going through a life-changing ordeal (amputation). Katy Sullivan, Board Member Mutual Amputee Aid Foundation & Lights Up Group Leader

The Geffen Playhouse and the Lights Up Program brightens the horizons for everyone involved. It is so amazing to bring people to the theater who have never been or can’t afford to attend and see

how excited and

inspired they are.

Jay Cramer Member, Mutual Amputee Aid Foundation

The Mutual Amputee Aid Foundation is a not-for-profit devoted to providing peer-level support and understanding to individuals with limb loss (whether through trauma, surgery, or from birth).


wELCOMINg NEw IMMIgrANTS TO AMErICA ThrOUgh ThEATEr ArTS I want to thank the patrons of the Geffen who make the Lights Up Program possible, and to those who keep the Geffen a vibrant place to see innovative theater that challenges all of us to take risks.

I have personally witnessed how many lives have been touched by the generosity and vision of those who have supported and steered the Geffen’s vision of community outreach. Our students range in age from 17 to 80 plus, representing all parts of the world — from Africa to Latin America to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The Geffen’s Lights Up Program gets the students to think, to talk, and to connect in a way that expedites their adapting to life in a new culture. There is universality in the thought-provoking theater that is the Geffen experience. Thank you for your continued generosity to those Los Angeles communities that have limited or no other access to quality theater. James Palumbo, ESL Instructor West Valley Occupational Center, & Lights Up Group Leader


The West Valley Occupational Center is a vocational training school with whom we have partnered for over 10 years to help serve, welcome and acclimate new immigrants from around the world.


I am inundated with a huge number of people who want to participate in the Geffen’s Lights Up Program. My participants are mostly in their 70s and 80s. Many have no socialization beyond their spiritual lives. Without the Lights Up Program, there is simply no way this group would be able to experience theater at the high caliber of the Geffen Playhouse. Our group always feels welcome and is always treated with respect and dignity by the Geffen’s staff and volunteers. This is rare and not something normally received from many organizations. The meetings the Geffen provides for Lights Up Group Leaders are well designed and highly educational. We were introduced to exciting new concepts and excellent tools for engaging our participants in deeper and more constructive discussions. At each meeting we were priviledged with incredible in-person discussions with playwrights and directors of upcoming performances. Our participants have been amazed at the depth and insightfulness put into each and every Study Guide. The Geffen Playhouse and its Lights Up Program are integral parts of our community, providing a vision and purpose that nourishes and cares for the community unlike any other.

We are extremely grateful to the Geffen’s supporters for all that they give to enhance and brighten the lives of so many. Barbara Harrison, St. Monica Senior Ministries & Lights Up Group Leader Photos: Jeff Lorch

Ruben Scott and Barbara Harrison, Group Leaders representing St. Monica Senior Ministries, attend a Lights Up Meeting last Fall.


Photos: Jeff Lorch


Residents from Silvercrest — a nonprofit residence for seniors that is operated by the Salvation Army — enjoy matinee performances at the Geffen as well as pre- and post-show workshops with Geffen Teaching Artists, through our Lights Up Program, and your generosity.


none is more appreciated than our association with the Geffen. Many of our residents are on such fixed incomes that they can barely afford the price of a senior-discounted movie ticket, let alone the price of a ticket to one of the greatest theaters in America.

Of all of the programs we do at Silvercrest,

The pre- and post-show workshops the Geffen provides inspire spirited discussions, and most of our residents read the Geffen’s Study Guides cover to cover before attending the show. Words can never fully express how grateful we are for this program because it means

so much to our residents.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Amy Malina, Program Coordinator Silvercrest Senior Residence of the Salvation Army

(Pictured right) Virginia Tokenaga, a representative from the Felicia Mahood Senior Center, recounts how being welcomed at the Geffen Playhouse brings her joy and helps lessen the pain she still feels from being imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp during World War II.

The biggest cost of being homeless is not losing your home or your possessions — it is losing your belief in yourself. People describe themselves as if they are dead — walking around feeling dead inside. Our job is to help them change the way they think about themselves, to help them realize that they have worth, they are talented and valuable people, full of potential. Getting away from Skid Row and coming to the Geffen gives them great hope. The

Geffen’s plays are far more than entertainment for our students. They are a catalyst for personal empowerment and a window to a new world. Being welcomed through the Geffen Playhouse doors skyrockets self-esteem. After seeing Geffen plays, our students walk taller, stand prouder, and think in affirming ways. Seeing plays at the Geffen is so much more than entertainment. It helps people get their lives back. Eyvette Jones Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of Urban Possibilities

Photo: Jeff Lorch


We are honored to play a role in the outstanding work and remarkable achievements of Urban Possibilities and its students.

LEvErAgINg ThEATEr ArTS AS A ONE-Of-A-kIND EMPOwErMENT TOOL Dimson Velasco is a veteran who did not adjust well to life back at home after his discharge from Navy service a few years back. He became addicted to drugs, and then homeless, living on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. There, he came across Urban Possibilities — a remarkable program that helps people “come back from the abyss” by learning how to turn pain into power, rediscovering their strengths and talents, and creating a new vision for their lives. Through our year-round partnership with Urban Possibilities, Dimson started coming to the Geffen Playhouse last year to see plays with a group of students from Urban Possibilities, and then attended every workshop offered by Geffen teaching artists after each play, down on Skid Row. The experience of being welcomed at the Geffen, seeing our plays, working with our teaching artists, and working very hard in the Urban Possibilities writing program, helped transform him into a man of strength, service, courage, commitment and more. He was recently reunited with his beautiful son, Earvin, pictured at left, at an Urban Possibilities night of storytelling and performances. Through your generosity to the Geffen Playhouse, we welcome and serve students from Urban Possiblities throughout the year, and are thrilled to be a part of helping them rebuild their lives, families and futures.

Photo: Craig Johnson

Dimson Velasco, a veteran who ended up homeless on LA’s Skid Row, is reunited with his son, Earvin, after participating in the Urban Possibilities Program and the Geffen Playhouse Lights Up Program.


Photo: Jeff Lorch


The incredibly gifted and talented Connor White, Geffen Resident Teaching Artist, with Urban Possibilities student Michael Dorsey, Sr., who is a great inspiration for what he has overcome in life, and what he now gives back to us all.

brINgINg PUrE INSPIrATION TO ALL Of US As the resident teaching artist at the Geffen, I have the privilege of providing workshops for the students of Urban Possibilities. The content of the workshops varies from improv and performance, to critical thinking discussions surrounding the plays they’ve come to see at the Geffen. No

matter what we’re working on, it remains a constant pleasure and source of inspiration to see how these students embrace the theater as an empowerment tool.

It has been an honor to partner with this organization and to watch these individuals take ownership of their lives and empower their futures through writing and through theater.

Connor White, Geffen Playhouse Resident Teaching Artist

After working with the incredibly talented and dedicated Connor White, the Geffen’s resident teaching artist, our students’ insights about the Geffen’s plays have grown in wonderful ways and they

see that they are part of a new tribe of creative people. This invigorates their writing and their belief about what is possible for themselves and affirms that their talent has value. Connor and the Geffen’s Lights Up Program are a great gift to the men and women of LA’s Skid Row. Eyvette Jones Johnson, Founder & Executive Director, Urban Possibilities

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Photo: Chelsey Rosetter


/thank you

Amy Albert

Christina Anthony

James Asmus

Greg Barnett

George Basil

Tommy Bechtold

Julia Bellows

Satya Bhabha

Mary Bogh

Marian Brock

Sophia Carter-Kahn

Jen D’Angelo

Mark David Christenson

Khalia Davis

Tommy Dickie

Duke Doyle

Scout Durwood

Lauren Flans

Lindsey Ford

Ayana Hampton

Hesley Harps

Meryl Hathaway

Marcel Hill

Graeme Hinde

Blake Hogue

Mary Holland

Will Holt

Joshua Hoover

Cory Howard

Zoe Jarman

Gabe Jewell

Michael Joyce

Lindsay Katai

Keylee Koop

Leslie Korein

Lauren Lapkus

Sherry Layne

Jessica Lowe

Martha Marion Markeia McCarty Jessica McKenna

Kyle More

Sarah Moreau

Peter Moses

Ashley Opstad

Arnie Pantoja

Scott Passarella

Lucas Peterson

Josh Rachford

Rich Ramberg

Erika Rankin

Morgan Rebane

Jessica Reiner-Harris

Zach Reino

Jamie Salka

Jon Schmidt

Adam Shenk

Jessie Sherman

Michael Sielaff

Alexis Simpson

Joel Sinesky

Danny Tieger

Madeline Wager

Mike Wells

Adam Welton

Dan Wessells

Connor White

Matt Wool

Jonathan Schwartz Matt Sheelen

Rebecca Warm

Tori Weddell


Rebecca Warm

Nicole Brodeur Jordan Kai Burnett

Kate Mulligan Phoebe Neidhardt

Spencer Robins

Jeremy Spektor Teddy Steinkellner

Amber Ruffin

Cloie Taylor

Nayla Wren



Photo: Jeff Lorch

Photo: Chelsey Rosetter


The cast of Coney Island Christmas answer questions in a “Talk Back” with high school students following a special daytime performance.

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark

Lynn Nottage

Jo Bonney

Kevin Carroll

Will Frears

Laura Heisler

Peter Katona

Thomas Sadoski

Joe Gillette

Stephanie Grant

Arye Gross

Kira Sternbach

Eileen T’Kaye

Andrew Walke

Jamie Ray Newman

James Van Der Beek

Freddy Rodriguez Bill Smitrovich

Sasha Higgins

Annabelle Gurwitch

Sanaa Lathan

mather Zickel


michael Golamco

Isabella Acres

Elitia Daniels

maya Erskine

Julian Evans

Ty Freeman

merle Dandridge Amanda Detmer Spencer Garrett Kimberly Hebert Gregory

Coney Island Christmas

Donald margulies Bart DeLorenzo

Rachel Hirshee

Lily Holleman

Sequoia Houston

Jim Kane

Grace Kaufman

Angela Paton

Richard Realivasquez

Joan Sloan

Nothing to Hide

Neil Patrick Harris

Derek DelGaudio

Helder Guimares

The Gift

Joanna murray-Smith

maria Aitken

Kathy Baker

Chris mulkey

Miss Julie

Neil LaBute

Jo Bonney

Laura Heisler

Logan marshallGreen

Lily Rabe

American Buffalo

David mamet

Randall Arney

Ron Eldard

The Judy Show

Kate moira Ryan

Amanda Charlton

Judy Gold

Yes, Prime Minister

Antony Jay

Jonathan Lynn

Ron Bottitta

Stephen Caffrey

Brian George

Tara Summers

Time Winters

Dakin matthews Jefferson mays michael mcKean matthew Floyd miller



thank you for bei n g part of the geffen pl a yhouse fami l y through your outstandi n g generosi t y and support of our educati o n programs. thank you for bri n gi n g the one-of-a-ki n d beauty and power of theater arts to chi l d ren and adul t s across los angel e s.



burbank San fernando valley Pasadena Toluca Lake glendale Eagle rock North hollywood

Elementary Schools Served through the geffen Playhouse Story Pirates residency Program 20th Street Elementary, South Los Angeles Lorena Street Elementary, Boyle Heights Nora Sterry Elementary, West Los Angeles Rockdale Elementary, Eagle Rock Toluca Lake Elementary, North Hollywood Middle & high Schools Served Mendez College and Career Preparation High School, Boyle Heights Manual Arts Senior High School, South Los Angeles Roosevelt Senior High School – Humanities & Art, Boyle Heights Roosevelt – Math, Science & Technology Magnet, Boyle Heights Santee Education Complex, South Los Angeles Southeast Middle School, South Gate Westchester High School, Westchester veterans Served through our veterans Initiative in Partnership with the gary Sinise foundation New Directions PATH Homeless Organization Project Hollywood Cares Serve the Warrior Team Rubicon UCLA Operation Mend United States Veterans Artists Alliance Veterans Home of West LA Veterans in Film & Television Veterans of West LA Schools and Organizations Served through our Story Pirates Saturday family Programming Beverly Vista Elementary School CoachArt Claude Pepper Senior Community Center The Growing Place Kellihat Israel Mar Vista Gardens Recreation Center Palisades Elementary Venice Service Center West Hollywood Elementary West Valley Occupational Center

Schools and Organizations Served through our LIghTS UP Program Affordable Living for the Aging Being Alive Beverly Hills Adult School California Lawyers for the Arts Challengers Boys and Girls Club Choreographer’s Theater Ensemble Claude Pepper Senior Community Center Country Villa Terrace Create NOW Santa Cultural Education Project Monica East Los Angeles College Felicia Mahood Senior Center venice Fifty-Fifty Leadership Heal the Bay Hollywood Arts Holman United Methodist Church Arts Council Inside Out Community Arts Israel Level Senior Center It’s Time for Kids Long Beach Central Area Association Mar Vista Gardens Recreational Center Mutual Amputee Aid Foundation New You Foundation Oasis West LA Reading is Fundamental of Southern California Russian American Choir Santa Monica Emeritus College Self-Realization Fellowship Sheenway School and Cultural Center Silvercrest Senior Center SRO Housing St. Monica Senior Ministries Step Up on Second Sunset Hall Thomas Safran and Associates Urban Possibilities Venice Service Center West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation West Valley Occupational Center – AEWC West Valley Occupational Center – ESL Zeta Rho

west hollywood Lincoln heights Downtown Los Angeles

boyle heights

Culver City


South Los Angeles

East Los Angeles

huntington Park

South gate

Inglewood watts

Lynwood hawthorne Compton gardena

Lakewood redondo beach


Long beach



Martha henderson Pamela robinson hollander Co-Chair Co-Chair

robert A. Daly

Dennis Doty

gil Cates, jr.

Patricia kiernan Applegate

beth behrs

Dr. gene D. block

vice Chair

john Ebey

Dr. brad Edgerton

Mark fleischer

David geffen

Suzanne Deal booth

harold A. brown

Mary Ann Cloyd

kirsten Combs

herbert M. gelfand Patricia L. glaser

Adi greenberg

Arthur greenberg

ginny Mancini

frank g. Mancuso

Chairman Emeritus

Quincy jones

joan kaloustian

jeffrey katzenberg glorya kaufman

Loretta kaufman Dr. gerald S. Levey

Carla Malden

Susan Mallory

Chairman Emeritus

ron Meyer

barry Meyer

Susanna Midnight

Leslie Moonves

jerry Moss

Steven A. Olsen

jerry Perenchio

bruce M. ramer

Loren rothschild

founding Chairman

Teri Schwartz

richard Sherman victoria Mann Simms

Andy Spahn

fred Specktor

Steven Spielberg

Lorraine Spurge

DeeAnna Staats

Cynthia P. Stafford howard Tenenbaum


Steve Tisch


Michael walsh

Dr. Charles E. Young

randall Arney

behnaz Ataee

Chairman Emeritus

Artistic Director

General Manager

regina Miller

ken Novice

Chief Development Managing Director Officer

Linda bernstein rubin


Michael Centeno

Lanre Idewu


vice Chair

Annette blum

Stephanie Carson

Lori Collins

Debra Davis

valarie de la garza

founded in 1994, the geffen Playhouse is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the cultural life of Los Angeles through plays and

jason Delane

Priscila giraldo

kirsten hansen

Eric heer

Yvonne huff

wendy kurtzman

john McCrite

educational programs that inform, entertain and inspire.

we are very proud of our affiliation Adrian Pasdar

rollin ransom

Allen Shay

john Sonego

Miranda Tollman Deborah benson walsh

Laurie Ziegler

with UCLA, including our partnerships with the UCLA School of Theatre, film and Television and the UCLA graduate School of Education.

for more information about the geffen Playhouse, please call us us at 310.208.6500, ext. 112

geffen Playhouse 10886 Le Conte Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90024

Photo: Jeff Lorch


Photo: Jeff Lorch

This report is dedicated with much love and gratitude to

FRANK MANCUSO for everything he gave to this organization as our Board Chair for over seven years

and to

GIL CATES whose legacy of bringing humanity, inspiration, understanding and joy through the arts lives on in our Education Programs and in everything we do.

Geffen Playhouse Education Impact Report  

A report on the impact of your generosity on the children, youth, adults, schools and communities served through the Geffen's Education & Ou...

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