Letter: ‘Let’s make Ashland fearless again’

October 5, 2022

I’m writing in wholehearted support of Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. As a playwright who visits OSF regularly, an Oregonian, and a member of the international theater community, I want to alert you to concerns shared by many of us.

This moment has thrust our field into a moment of reckoning. Are we for all the people? COVID-19 has brought to light the uneven nature in which we have treated those who live with disabilities, those who can no longer attend the theater, like my 88-year-old mother, and to communities facing environmental obstacles.

As an artistic director, Garrett did not just dip a toe into accessibility, but has gone full throttle. My own frequent trips to Ashland have been frequently impacted by fire. (When I was there several weeks ago, I woke to ash on my car.) Garrett’s lean into digital/transmedia alternatives — O! Digital — addresses these concerns. Garrett is innovating a transmedia landscape that meets pandemic, environmental and accessibility needs.

Our concerns as Garrett’s community have to do with death threats against Garrett, fueled by those who have loudly opposed her programming, inconceivably, in your paper. Artistic taste and voices vary, but no artist, stepping into their power, should fear for their lives. As artists, we opt to leave the risks on the stage.

OSF is an international treasure. O! Digital will make it even more so. Garrett does what artists do best — meet the moment without fear.

Let’s make Ashland fearless again.

Elaine Romero, playwright

Tucson, Arizona

Oct. 7 update: Spelling of Elaine Romero corrected.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.
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