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Nataki Garrett Presents 1st Play As Oregon Shakespeare Festival Leader

<p>Nataki Garrett arrives as the sixth artistic director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival in August 2019.</p>

Nataki Garrett arrives as the sixth artistic director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival in August 2019.

The new artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is about to show audiences a taste of her work.

Nataki Garrett has worked in several major cities, including Denver, the Los Angeles area, and Dallas. She's been in Ashland for visits since April and she begins full-time at the festival Aug. 1.

She’s taking over for Bill Rauch, who steered programming to new heights at OSF for 12 years. In doing so, she joins a cohort of new leaders in American theater.

“We’re not just moving as an organization,” Garrett told OPB. “Our country is moving, Ashland is shifting, our climate is different. To be at the helm of a theater at this time — I couldn’t have imagined it 10 years ago.”

Garrett served most recently as interim artistic director at Denver Center for the Performing Arts. (While there, she crossed paths with former Portland Center Stage artistic director Chris Coleman, who was the search committee’s choice for the permanent position.) She’s known for her passion for new plays, and for seeing classic works from a fresh perspective. She’s directed several premieres by playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a MacArthur fellow.

This summer, Garrett is directing the West Coast premiere of Christina Anderson’s play “ How to Catch Creation,” an emotionally complex story about two artist couples in the Bay Area, their struggles with child-bearing and creativity. Garrett’s direction of the show in a prior staging in Philadelphia gained favorable reviews for its thoughtfulness and depth.

As for her style as a director, Garrett said she tends to lead from the middle.

“I do a lot of listening. I am not a director who wants people to execute my ideas," she said. "It’s a collaborative art form.”

“How to Catch Creation” opens Tuesday, July 23 and runs through late October.  

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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April Baer, Eric Slade