Shedding Skins: An Artists’ Response to Nataki Garrett’s Departure

On May 5th, 2023, at the height of a Scorpio Full Moon Eclipse, it was announced that Nataki Garrett would be resigning from her post as Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival after four long years. This is a watershed moment in the history of the American Theatre. There will be news. What I have for you is my raw, artists’ response, as a Black, trans artistic leader, and an artist who participated in the Shakespeare festival last year. A letter to you, a letter to me, a letter to Nataki. I hope it soothes.

A Titan has been lost.
No. Not lost.
She can still be found.
A Titan has been displaced.
Still not right. She left of her own volition.

A Titan has shed her skin.
Yes. That’s right.
What happens when a Titan must move?
A Titan on whose back rested a village that worshiped her daily?

We, who looked into Playbill and saw the Sun.
Our reflection.
What happens to us?

I hesitate to make this a group conversation.
This Titan fought fires, a sea change, ancient banishments & ostracizations.
Battles of myth, where foe is Neighbor, Friend, and Fear.
Clashes that rang out through the country.

And heralded death.

What happens to us?
We, who would urge a Titan to her death
To see a bard’s stories come to life?

When I arrived at the Festival,
You had changed.
You were harder.
The edges of your smile sharpened from a war of flesh and mind.
A commander.

You did not shy to tell us of the cost.
The danger to our bodies.
The potential darkness of that emerald green forest.
But you made it safe, for us.
You wove such beauty in it.
That is your gift.

I struggled with how your body seemed to be our bridge to artistic liberation.
Twisted to cover us in the shadow of your crown.
All the while, fighting, bleeding, trying.

What happens to us?
We, who stand on the backs of Titans?
Who hold us willingly?
Who chose to be there?
With love.

What happens to us?
When a Titan must leave its village?

Why –
We become Titans too.
gods, even.
Large, constellated, and rebellious, with villages of our own.

We are the Titan’s Future.
Crowned in boiling gold on the top of a mountain.

We came.
We witness.
We will the mountains to move.

Dear Titan, don’t worry about us.
We were freed in the freeing too.

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