We had the good fortune of connecting with Kati Grace Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kati Grace, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I really love the quotation from Laura Dern’s character when she guest starred on The West Wing, playing the U.S. Poet Laureate, “An artist’s job to captivate you for however long we’ve asked for your attention. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky. And I don’t get to decide what truth is.” As a producer and director, it is challenging to juggle all of the different perspectives that will define “success” for any given production. Are my actors, designers and crew proud of the work that we’re doing and the story we are telling? Did
they feel safe and empowered throughout the process? What are the audiences’ reactions? Does my artistic director like the show? The Board of Directors? Our donors? Our staff? What will the reviewers say?
In my last chance to give notes to my cast of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” I reminded them that we are not inviting the audience into the room to demand that they laugh at the show. We are inviting them into the room to allow us to tell them a story. Hopefully, they’ll laugh! And sitting in the audiences on opening weekend, I certainly felt proud and that my show was a “success” every time that the audience laughed or applauded.
But I also know that what constitutes success at the end of the day cannot come from outside of myself. When I judge that I have been most successful, it is because I have committed to hold myself to the high and lofty standards that I have set for my work and evaluate each show from THAT lens before I let the noise of others’ opinions negatively OR positively impact my sense of self-worth as an artist and storyteller.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
While I knew I wanted to be an actor and director from my time in college, the desire to produce was born out of the hardship that arts organizations all over the world faced during the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020 and 2021. We were separated from our audiences and the magic of live theatre was temporarily erased from our society. I spent the Summer of 2020 becoming familiar with Zoom, YouTube studio and Vimeo through overseeing the pivot of our Summer Camps from in-person to online. The Summer done, and no end to the performance hiatus in sight, Charlie Thomas, Sean Kelley and I came up with the idea of producing a “virtual repertory.” Two plays by William Shakespeare that could be directed, designed and performed by a small pod of ten artists (our “quaranteam”). This rep would give our actors a chance to create, perform and connect with our audiences.
I took this idea further and opened up the offer to our acting company to perform solo or small group pieces to be livestreamed on our social media platforms. In essence, I got to produce a mini-season (once my artistic director graciously agreed to let me go for it!).
Navigating the ever-changing CDC recommendations, collaborating with our staff on how to market and sell digital content and learning this position on the job without any formal training was all intensely challenging. But also exhilarating. I knew that once things were “back to normal,” continuing to serve the ASC as a producer was a must for me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For a beautiful and relaxing spot, the pool at Candler Park is a hidden gem! I love hiking the trails at Stone Mountain Park and Sweetwater Creek as well as “Shooting the Hooch” up in Roswell. When visiting Atlanta, brunch is a must, and Folk Art in Inman Park is a favorite spot of mine. Shopping at Atlantic Station. Midtown Art Cinema with dessert and drinks at Apres Diem afterwards. And of course a shameless plug for dinner and a show at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse or taking in a show at one of my other favorite theatres in town: Synchronicity or 7 Stages.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to dedicate my shoutout to John Giampetro, Katy Brown, John Hardy, Drew Reeves and Betty Hart who all were inspirations to me as a found my voice as a stage director. And the entire Atlanta Shakespeare Company, especially Jeff Watkins, Laura Cole and Andrew Houchins, have fostered my growth as an artist and allowed me the grace to learn and grow throughout my fifteen seasons with them. I feel very lucky to have learned from and worked alongside all of these tremendously talented people.
Facebook: The Atlanta Shakespeare Company
Daniel Parvis Photography LLC and Jeff Watkins