Matthew, Jessica Gillette, Zan Headley in "A Long Days Journey Into Night" by Eugene O'Neill at California Institute of the Arts Spring 2013.
HOODOO LOVE by Katori Hall
Written by the first Black American woman to win the highest honor in British Theatre, the Olivier Award for Best New Play, Hoodoo Love is set during the Great Depression in Memphis, Tennessee, the playwright’s home city. It tells the story of Toulou, a young woman who has escaped her family and the Delta cotton fields to pursue her dream of becoming a Blues singer. She falls for Ace of Spades, a rambling Blues man, and whips up a potion of hoodoo magic to win his love. But when her past catches up with her in the form of her brother, Jib, the magic backfires and she has to fight her way to a new path to her dream.The creative team includes Travis Stephen Gooden (Music Director), David F. Weiner (Scenic Design), Jeannie Galioto (Costume Design), Stephen Terry (Lighting Design), Martin Gimenez (Sound Design), Denise Woods (Dialect Coach), Will Widick (Properties Designer), and Elizabeth Stephens (Stage Manager).
In Katori Hall's "play with blues music," she finds her artistic voice through shards of heartbreak. Hoodoo Love unfolds like a fable with a brutal underside. It also unfolds as if unsure where to go next, and the characters are often sketchy. The script has highs and lows (when the former, under Nataki Garrett's direction, powerfully so). But Mo`olelo Performing Arts has made a find who trumps the troubles. Jasmine Hughes gives a special performance as Toulou.
San Diego Reader - Jeff Smith
“Hoodoo Love,” a play about the blues, is bathed in them. There’s blues music, blues lyrics, blues motifs translated into plot lines and character yearnings. Husky blues voices, hot blue moods and cool blue nights.What could flop into heaviness or monotony in the hands of a less perfect cast is captivating in this production by Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company. This production delivered on that promise, turning the intimacy of the space into a powerful storytelling tool. The set, the music, the actors, the direction — it all came together.
San Diego Union-Tribune - Roxana Popescu
Life is slow and tinged with the blues in Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company’s production of Katori Hall’s “Hoodoo Love,” playing through July 8 at The 10th Avenue Theatre. The director is Nataki Garrett, associate dean of the theater school at the California Institute of the Arts. Hall has painted a sprawling canvas of a time and place most playgoers won’t remember and may not have even read about.
JEAN LOWERISON - SDGLN THEATER CRITIC
Playwright Katori Hall's ambitious "Hoodoo Love" unfolds like a sprawling novel, its action hopscotching around many themes before this long, fitfully engaging drama reaches its unsettling close. Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company is giving Hall's play a good go under the direction of L.A.-based director Nataki Garrett.
North County Times - Anne Marie Welsh
Katori Hall’s Hoodoo Love at Mo’olelo Performing Arts’ 10th Avenue Theatre is a relentlessly sad tale that relies on Deep South depression-era atmospherics, Memphis blues and the specter of “hoodoo” folk magic. Toulou (Jasmine Hughes) falls under the spell of the free-spirited Ace of Spades (the charismatic Stu James) and, literally, the conjuring Candylady (Monique Gaffney). Add Toulou’s predatory brother (Kirkaldy Myers) to the claustrophobia of longing and misery. A smoky spellcasting scene is bewitching to be sure...
San Diego City Beat. - David Coddon
Neighbors by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins West Coast Premiere was produced by the Matrix Theater in 2010 and was nominated for 4 Ovation Awards including Best Play,Best Ensemble, Best Featured Actress and Best Costume Design. It received Backstage Garland Awards for Best Ensemble and Best Costume Design and an LADCC Award for Best Choreography.
- Director Nataki Garrett achieves an impressive unity of tone in a show that veers from pantomime to dance numbers to realism. - LATimes - CRITICS PICK!!!!!
- What works best in Neighbors (at least at the Matrix) are the performances of its all-around splendid cast, directed with savvy and flair by Nataki Garrett. -LA Stage Scene
- Provocative, inappropriate, lewd, crass, and offensive, Playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins’s play Neighbors pushes boundaries in its West Coast premiere. The “18 or older” recommendation by The Matrix Theatre Company is well earned due to Neighbors strong language, challenging discussion on race and identity, and graphic sexual moments. Director Nataki Garrett does not pull any of the punches in Mr. Jacob-Jenkin’s writing, fully allowing Neighbors to create an atmosphere of shock, discomfort, and tension. -LA Theatre Review
- Nataki Garrett’s exceptionally deft direction along with a sensational cast rises to this challenge and surpasses the difficulties that can otherwise mar a captivating work of mastery and depth. - eyespyla.com
- Each member of this band of gypsies conjures a hugely offensive black stereotype that director Nataki Garrett delivers to her audience with just the delicacy and nuance minstrelsy deserves: none. - artsmeme.com
- It's hard to imagine a better production, under Nataki Garrett's staging. The two families are of different universes and performance styles. Yet Garrett meets the daunting challenge of having them all belong to a single performance. - LA Weekly
- a play that is moving and funny and energetic and uncomfortable in the best way—the kind of play that makes you want to talk about it in the lobby for an hour afterward and think about it for days after that. It’s a theatrical firebomb, a genuine event. Director Nataki Garrett takes this exceptionally tricky material and not only makes it work but makes it work brilliantly, using every tool in the theatrical arsenal. -LAist.com
"Go see 'Neighbors' at the Matrix. Ask a few questions on your way home." - Steve Julian, 89.3 KPCC
Neighbors was produced by Mixed Blood Theater Company in 2011. It opened its Radical Hospitality program and received much critical acclaim.
This raucous, visceral commentary on "post-racial"
America clearly demonstrates that the edgy vision Jack Reuler launched at Mixed
Blood 36 years ago remains alive and kicking. Director Nataki Garrett, who
previously directed "Neighbors" in 2010 for Los Angeles' Matrix
Theatre Company, is aided by a solid cast in this high-energy production. -Minneapolis Star Tribune – Lisa Brock
I don’t think you want to be the one who has to say to your
friends who are talking about this play, “No, I didn’t see that.” And people
will be talking about this play. I suspect that the buzz will keep growing long
after it closes October 9, and I’m fairly certain there won’t be anything like
it in the Twin Cities this theater season. If you’re something more than a
casual theater-goer looking for entertainment, you have to see this. This was truly an ensemble show with remarkable performances
turned in by the entire cast, and Nataki Garrett’s direction was a solid
success with her no sentimentality, no-BS-allowed approach. -howwastheshow.com – Janet Preus
This production is not for children, but not because
of the grotesque sexuality that the Crow family sometimes displays; rather, it
is because it plays on images of race that we all wish we had never been
exposed to. Explaining Zip or Topsy to a child might be a daunting task, but it
is unnerving how quickly we recognize these figures as adults. Although we
might pretend to live in a “post-race society,” these unflinching portrayals
demonstrate just how profoundly these stereotypes are rooted in our cultural
consciousness, so deep that even pop artists like Beyoncé or Lil’ Kim can’t
seem to break free.
In the program note to “Neighbors,” director Nataki Garrett asks, “Who owns
the image and what is the truth?” In other words: at what point does how we “act”
become how we act? And who is allowed to manipulate the boundary that separates
the person from the persona? -AisleSayTwincities.com – Sophie Kerman
BLACK WOMEN STATE OF THE UNION was produced by Company of Angels in Los Angeles in 2009. Co Directed by Nataki Garrett and Ayana Carr BWSOTU received rave reviews as well as funding from the Durfee Foundation and an NAACP Theater Award Nomination for Best Director(s).
It's lovely to be reminded, every once in a while, to leave
your jaded self at the door to the theatre. So, for anyone like me, who can't
help but indulge in a little inner eye-rolling at the thought of, say, a
dramatic ensemble exploration of contemporary women's issues, the Company of
Angels' new offering is a welcome wake-up: It's a kick-ass evening that'll
strike a familiar, resonant chord, even as it travels into unexpected places.
Carefully pieced together from a mix of new material, this is a cohesive and
satisfying program, thanks to a strong ensemble and sharp direction by Nataki
Garrett and Ayana Cahrr. - Backstage.com – Jennie Webb
Judging from this uneven assortment of comedy sketches,
dramatic playlets and poetry performance pieces, the state of identity politics
for black women in the age of Obama hasn’t appreciably changed since Ntozake
Shange’s landmark 1975 choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered
Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf.” Buoyed by a talented ensemble and briskly
directed by Nataki Garrett and Ayana Cahrr, the show is at its best when its
political agenda is leavened with incisive humor or sharply observed characterizations.- LaWeekly.com – Bill Raden
Hoodoo Love - Mo'olelo Performing Arts
Online and Radio Interviews
KPBS Radio Broadcast
Neighbors - Matrix - Photo by I.C. Rapoport
Online and Radio Interviews
Neighbors - Mixed Blood Theater - Photo by Nataki Garrett
BWSOTU Photo by Unknown
Online and Radio Interviews