The theater world saw the deaths of a number of major talents in 2011, including legendary writer and director Arthur Laurents, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson and Czech dramatist and politician Vaclav Havel. In the world of comedy, stand-up star Patrice O'Neal died in November at the age of 41.
In L.A., the theater world lost one of its biggest personalities, Gil Cates, the founder and producing director of the Geffen Playhouse. Cates, who died in November at 77, wore many hats during his long career. He was a film and stage director, a producer of the Oscars telecast and served as a professor and dean of UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.
Cates made the Geffen Playhouse one of Southern California's top theater companies. The Geffen continues to draw top playwrighting and acting talent and has developed plays that have later traveled to Broadway.
-- David Ng
Photo: Arthur Laurents in 1977. Credit: Los Angeles Times