Nataki Garrett is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s sixth artistic director. Since her appointment in April of 2019, she has guided the organization through numerous transitions and crises, all while building toward a more sustainable producing and fundraising model. The COVID-19 pandemic forced OSF to close five productions only six days after opening, in what was supposed to be Garrett’s first full season as artistic director.
Shortly thereafter, Garrett oversaw the process to shrink expenditures at OSF while maintaining a humane connection to the OSF’s company as furloughs and layoffs ensued. Over the next six months, Garrett raised $6 million for the company while also supporting the successful hiring and onboarding of OSF’s fourth Executive Director, David Schmitz. Together they led the company during Southern Oregon’s Almeda fire, which devastated nearby communities, and mobilized relief efforts including an onsite donation center and short- and long-term housing for those impacted by the fires.
During this time, Garrett, together with a cohort of Oregon arts leaders, secured $8 million for the state’s performing arts organizations from the federal relief fund package that Oregon received. She is currently leading the charge to mobilize theatre organizations across the nation to procure long-term federal government support to ensure the theatre industry’s reemergence post-pandemic.
Dare to Dream, OSF’s emergency relief campaign that included a first-ever virtual Gala celebration, was conceived and launched by Garrett. A significant portion of the $600,000 raised by the Gala was shared with organizations doing front-line work with underserved communities impacted by the fires.
Garrett’s forté and passion is fostering and developing new work, including those that adapt and devise new ways of performing the classics. She has directed and produced the world premieres of many well-known and important playwriting voices of our time, including Katori Hall, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dominique Morriseau and Aziza Barnes.
Her credits at OSF include directing a beautifully successful production of Christina Anderson’s How to Catch Creation and producing the world premiere of Karen Zacarias’s The Copper Children. Prior to her appointment at OSF, Garrett served as the acting artistic director for Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company (DCPA) during the $66 million organization’s 18-month leadership transition. During her tenure, she produced a very provocative Macbeth, which became the most successful production in the Space Theatre’s 40-year history. She also initiated and negotiated the first co-world premieres in ten years for two DCPA-commissioned plays—The Great Leap with Seattle Repertory Theatre and American Mariachi with The Old Globe. Additionally, she was former associate artistic director of CalArts Center for New Performance.
Garrett has served on nominating committees for the MacArthur Award, the Kilroys, Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust Distinguished Playwright Award, Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship panel, Mellon Foundation Playwrights Award Panel, the Hermitage Greenfield Prize, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, several NEA panels, and countless juries supporting artists around the world.
Garrett is a recipient of the first-ever Ammerman Prize for Directing, given by Arena Stage. She also received the National Endowment for the Arts and Theatre Communications Group Career Development Fellowship for Theatre Directors. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and a member of the board of directors for Theatre Communications Group, a company member at Woolly Mammoth, and an advisory board member for Mixed Blood Theatre. Garrett is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts with an MFA in directing.
A frequently sought out voice for her thought leadership and subject matter expertise, Nataki can be read, watched or listened to regularly, across regional and national news media: