On Tuesday, April 27, we hosted a conversation over dinner. The first course included a virtual meal served on black bone china that had been handcrafted by SMU Meadows’ student artists.
For dessert, influential leaders in the theatre world discussed arts activism and technology. The conversation was moderated by Theatre Forward’s Carl Sylvestre and featured Executive Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville Robert Barry Fleming, Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s sixth artistic director Nataki Garrett, and artistic director of the National Black Theatre Jonathan McCrory. View the presentation here:
About the Artists
Fleming is the Executive Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville. Fleming previously served as Associate Artistic Director at Cleveland Play House and as Director of Artistic Programming at Arena Stage. World premieres commissioned, developed and championed during this tenure at Arena include the 2017 Best Musical Tony Award winner Dear Evan Hansen, Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Sovereignty, John Strand’s The Originalist, Katori Hall’s Blood Quilt, Karen Zacarías’s Destiny of Desire, and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner, Sweat, by Lynn Nottage.
Fleming was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway premiere of The Two-Character Play by Tennessee Williams and was a tenured professor and Chair of the University of San Diego Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Department. His Actors Theatre Direct new media credits include COVID-Classics: One-Act Plays for the Age of Quarantine, Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End and Romeo & Juliet: Louisville 2020. Live event directing and choreography credits include Are You There? and Once On This Island (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Next to Normal (Tantrum Theater), The Royale and Between Riverside and Crazy (Cleveland Play House), Destiny of Desire (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), and Caroline, or Change (Tantrum Theater). Professional acting credits include stints on Broadway, OffBroadway, television (Emmy-winning Disney Channel series Adventures in Wonderland, Family Matters, The George Carlin Show) and in films (Academy Award-winning L.A. Confidential and Twilight of the Golds).
Nataki Garrett is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s sixth artistic director. Since her appointment in April of 2019, she has guided the organization through numerous transitions and crises, all while building toward a more sustainable producing and fundraising model. The COVID-19 pandemic forced OSF to close five productions only six days after opening, in what was supposed to be Garrett’s first full season as artistic director. Shortly thereafter, Garrett oversaw the process to shrink expenditures at OSF while maintaining a humane connection to the OSF’s company as furloughs and layoffs ensued.
Over the next six months, Garrett raised $6 million for the company while also supporting the successful hiring and onboarding of OSF’s fourth Executive Director, David Schmitz. Together they led the company during Southern Oregon’s Almeda fire, which devastated nearby communities, and mobilized relief efforts including an onsite donation center and short- and long-term housing for those impacted by the fires. During this time, Garrett, together with a cohort of Oregon arts leaders, secured $8 million for the state’s performing arts organizations from the federal relief fund package that Oregon received. She is currently leading the charge to mobilize theatre organizations across the nation to procure long-term federal government support to ensure the theatre industry’s reemergence post-pandemic.
A two Obie Award-winning, Harlem-based artist who has served as Artistic Director at National Black Theatre since 2012 under the leadership of CEO, Sade Lythcott. He has directed numerous professional productions and concerts. He has been acknowledged as an exceptional leader additionally through Craine’s New York Business 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives. In 2013, he was awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and the Torch Bearer Award by theatrical legend Woodie King Jr.
He is a founding member of the collaborative producing organizations Harlem9, Black Theatre Commons, The Jubilee, Next Generation National Network and The Movement Theatre Company. McCrory sits on the National Advisory Committee for Howlround.com and was a member of the original cohort for ArtEquity. A Washington, DC native, McCrory attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and New York University’s TISCH School of the Arts. To learn more, please visit www.jonathanmccrory.com.
Prior to joining Theatre Forward, Carl worked with numerous arts and social service nonprofits both in staff positions and in his consulting practice, including the Metropolitan Opera, St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Carl has an M.B.A from the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, an M.A. in Theatre History from Hunter College and a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Culture from Columbia University.
He has also served as a board member in a leadership capacity at three nonprofit organizations. He has lectured on Arts Management at Teachers College Columbia University, New York University, and Brooklyn College. In October 2017, he was awarded a New York City Council Award for his philanthropic and community services.