- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Three theater associations are speaking up for the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival after reports of death threats made against her.
The Dramatists Guild, Theater Communications Group and the Shakespeare Theatre Association issued a statement Monday to “condemn in every possible way the unconscionable harassment and death threats” faced by Nataki Garrett. This follows a report in NPR, in which Garrett, one of few prominent Black women in the field, detailed some of the opposition she’s faced since she took on the role in 2019.
Garrett has faced criticism, according to NPR, for programming more modern, diverse offerings, rather than solely Shakespeare. The current season includes Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with a diverse cast, King John, with an all-female and nonbinary cast, and Confedarates, a new play by Dominique Morisseau about oppression faced in slavery and modern-day academia, among others.
That criticism has extended to the death threats and has also caused Garrett to travel with a security team.
In response, the three theater groups released the following comments:
“Nataki’s expertise and vision steered OSF, one of the most prominent regional theatres in the country, through the pandemic, surviving under unprecedented financial pressure caused by an industry in lock down. The theatre not only survived; it thrived as she presented a vibrant first season, which included productions of Shakespeare that employed diverse casts as well as new plays by a diverse group of brilliant contemporary writers. Many subscribers and theatergoers were thrilled with what they saw. But, as a leading advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the American theatre, and the first Black woman to direct such a celebrated performing arts organization, she became the target of death threats, which have forced her to travel with a security team in public.
“This violent response to her artistic choices strikes right at the heart of who we are, not just as members of the American theatre, but as citizens. If, by producing writers of the global majority, an artist like Nataki Garrett can be subjected to death threats, what does that say about the precarious situation our theater industry is in? In the face of violence, how will systemic change ever occur? We urge the industry to treat writers fairly, and to dismantle gatekeeping systems that stifle the expansion of the theatrical canon, impacting whose stories get told, how they get told, and by whom. Everyone of good conscience must stand together to reject hate and to embrace empathy; it is the only path towards systemic change.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day