Austin Theatre Life Profile: KEVIN GATES by Alex Garza


IKevin Gates (photo by Natasha Straley)t all began in the town of Splendora, Texas, which at the time might be considered to be located in the middle of nowhere.  Today, however, it is more a part of the northern Houston suburbs. Either way, it was the place where Kevin Gates grew up. It is also the geographic region where one might pinpoint the origin of his love for theatre.  He tells the story himself:


“ In my first grade play, I played a character named Mr. Tall. All I remember is that after I said my one line, I got (what seemed at the time) to be an uproarious peal of laughter.  But it was probably actually only a mild chuckle.”


 Mild chuckle or not, Gates was immediately drawn to acting and the opportunity to become characters other than himself. Now, as an adult, he approaches his craft on a deeper level, appreciating the challenge, as an actor or director, of working on a text through academic analysis. He describes the experience as “solving a puzzle.”


However, Kevin Gates’ journey towards unlocking this theatrical puzzle was charted by a series of detours and varying career explorations that eventually brought him to the Austin theatre scene in which he has played such an leading part.


He attended college on a theatre scholarship. Because the experience was not what he  might have hoped, he focused on playing, another one of his loves. After a few years, he briefly played lead guitar for singer Roy Head. It was then that he took a different career direction in his life. Gates attended  law school and became a lawyer. He spent a few years living in New York City. 


 “I worked as an attorney in the music business, and then I returned to Texas and practiced law here for about ten years,” he explains.


It was after that period of time that he came full circle and returned to the calling he first discovered as a first grader in Splendora.  In 2008 he enrolled at Texas State University, where he earned his  M.A. in Theatre. He currently teaches theatre history at the same institution. Though teaching is part of his return to his passion for theatre, he has also re-discovered his life as an actor, and of course, as a director.


“When I lived in New York City,” he admits, “I did mostly musical theatre there, including playing Conrad in Bye, Bye,  Birdie.”   


In Austin he has played a wide variety of roles, but many of his stage pursuits have involved his affinity for more classical works, particularly those of Shakespeare. Gates attributes this to a growing knowledge of these types of performances, enhanced by a lot of “reading, thought, and working on shows.”


“There are many, many opportunities, and I think that's a blessing and a curse,”  he comments about the Austin theatre scene.


 He has definitely been prolific, as he juggles his teaching career, his theatre projects, and happily devotes himself to his family. He and his wife Bridget Farias-Gates named their daughter Rosalind in tribute to a character from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. But it is no secret to their friends that they had another name picked out just in case they had a boy.


“We would have named him Beckett.”  


Though his calendar may seem full, Kevin Gates is ready for challenges and believes  that “the willingness to re-evaluate constantly is the key to real growth.”   This philosophy reflects itself through his life and his work.


His most recent directing venture, Arden of Faversham, that opened at the City Theatre April 29, 2016 and will play to May 22. The author of this “deliciously dark and funny Elizabethan crime drama” is anonymous, though some have suggested notable scribes as such Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, and perhaps even William Shakespeare.


Gates saw a Royal Shakespeare Company production of the text in 2014, and he was shocked and thrilled when Andy Berkovsky of City Theatre suggested he direct this relatively unknown dramatic work.


“I really love the plays of the English Renaissance,” Gates says. “It’s really interesting how many different interpretations these plays can support. Each generation is able to find its own values reflected in them.”


Austin theatre is privileged to enjoy Gates’s artistry and dedication to his craft. His journey is far from over, and as he sees many theatrical puzzles yet to be solved. After a personal history stretching from Splendora, Texas to his current status as a well-known and respected Central Texas actor and director, Kevin Gates has many stories left to tell. 


(Arden of Faversham runs Thursday through Sundays until May 22, 2016 at the City Theatre, Austin.)





Alex Garza is an actor and writer living in Austin, Texas.    

Arden of Faversham
City Theatre Company

April 29 - May 22, 2016
City Theatre
3823 Airport Boulevard
Austin, TX, 78722

 April 29 – May 22. Thursdays - Saturdays 8:00 pm. Sundays 3:00 pm. 

The City Theatre, 3823 Airport Blvd. Suite D. 78722. 
General Seating $15. Front/2nd Row Reserved $20-25. Thursday all seats $10. Tickets at the door $20. Group and student discounts. 
Advance tickets sales $18-$30 plus service fees, including VIP seat reservations, at
For reservations, call 512-524-2870 or e-mail