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Fireside Chat with Nataki Garrett of Oregon Shakespeare Festival

In October, Yelp’s Chief Diversity Officer, Miriam Warren, talked to Nataki Garrett, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). The OSF is a regional repertory theater in Ashland, Oregon. From late February through October each year, the festival offers matinee and evening performances of a wide range of classic and contemporary plays, not limited to Shakespeare. Nataki became one of few women of color in the country to lead a major theater, and since her appointment in April 2019, she has guided the organization through numerous transitions and crises. 

Here are a few snippets from the conversation:

Miriam: How did you come to love theater? Was there a memorable experience in  your life that has made you fall in love with the stage?

Nataki: When I was four years old, my mom took me to see a live ballet performance at the Kennedy Center. We sat in the rafters, and I do remember seeing the little dots twirling around, and it sort of settled that for me. The next day, I told my family that I want ballet lessons.

Miriam: What is a play that you’d recommend to others?

Nataki: So, [I] can’t give you the right answer to this, I can’t answer the question straight– see all plays! Go see everything! See the good ones. See the bad ones. Your funky friend who wants you to come see her one-person show– get your butt in the theater. Put your mask on, and go watch them!

Miriam: What’s a book you’ve read and loved and would recommend to others?

Nataki: Right now I am reading Eric Liu’s “You’re More Powerful Than You Think” and when I finish reading it, I’m going to read it again. What Eric is focused on is how you are already empowered to make the change that you need that you’re trying to make in the world.