Oregon Shakespeare Festival Picks New Artistic Director

Nataki Garrett will be the first person of color to lead the repertory theater

Nataki Garrett / photo courtesy OSF

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has chosen Nataki Garrett as its next artistic director, succeeding Bill Rauch when he leaves in August after 12 years in the job.

Garrett is a former dean at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and most recently worked as interim artistic director at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

She is deeply involved in producing new work and was behind such shows at various theaters around the country as Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson, Two Degrees by Tina Palmquist, Zoe’s Perfect Wedding by Mathew Lopez, The Great Leap by Lauren Yee and American Mariachi by Jose Cruz-Gonzalez.

She’ll arrive in Ashland in early April; in June, she’ll begin rehearsal for How to Catch Creation, which she’s directing at OSF this season. It opens in the Thomas Theatre July 23. She officially takes over as artistic director on August 1.

“I have known Nataki Garrett for 17 years and have closely followed and admired her career. She is a rigorous and thrilling artist; a thoughtful, confident leader; and big thinker,” Rauch says in a release. “Nataki’s historic appointment, as an African American woman running one of the largest-budget theaters in the United States, is a direct expression of OSF’s decades-long commitment to helping create a more equitable field.”

“I am absolutely thrilled to be named incoming artistic director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival and it is an honor and privilege to inherit such a wonderfully rich and dynamic legacy of artistic excellence in partnership with a dedicated board, staff, company and local community,” Garrett says in the release. “I am equally excited and inspired by OSF’s dedication to expanding our worldview and look forward to maintaining our commitment to the revolutionary spirit of Shakespeare and classical text, while continuing to explore and expand opportunities for new voices and narratives through new play development.”

The festival, with a $44 million budget, is one of the top regional theaters in the nation.