In 2018, I heard Nataki Garrett Myers give a speech entitled “We Are the Sea Change” at the Statera Conference.
I have thought about that speech countless times since. I knew, when I heard it, that Nataki is one of the incredible humans who captures the future of the theater in America. I hoped and prayed that a regional theater would be smart enough to hire her. I knew they would be the luckiest theater in the world to get her — that her clarity about what American theater needs, her vision around how to re-imagine how theater is done, and her focus and resilience around getting it done, would drive her forward, despite the challenges that would inevitably and unfortunately come her way.
In her speech, she talked about the state of the world and the state of our industry and how she felt resonance with Quiara Hudes’ piece “High Tide of Heartbreak,” where sometimes our art can be more cruel than giving.
Nataki is experiencing a moment where our art is being cruel to her.
It is heartbreaking and horrifying though, unfortunately, not surprising, in a world steeped in white supremacy, to hear what Nataki is experiencing when her only goal is to ensure the Oregon Shakespeare Festival exists beyond her.
“I want OSF to exist well beyond me, 25 years from now and a time when I won’t even be here on Earth, I want it to still be here,” Garrett said. “And that means that my mandate is to rethink the way we do things.”
Dismantling white supremacy is not for the faint of heart. Even the most resilient, like Nataki, need community and support to keep going.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the American Theatre are beyond lucky Nataki has chosen to remain in this field and do this work. She does not deserve what is happening to her. It is not nice. It is not fair. It is not just. It is cruel.
Kristen van Ginhoven, Producing Artistic Director
WAMTheatre.com, Lenox, Massachusetts