Sharon Ott

Associate Professor

Artistic Director

Department of Theatre

sharon headshot

Department of Theatre

Contact Info

Sharon Ott is an Associate Professor and served as the Chair of Dept. of Theatre from 2017 until August, 2021. Under her leadership as Chair, the Department received NAST accreditation for a new Concentration in Musical Theatre, as well as introducing Minors in Theatre, Musical Theatre, and (with the participation of several other departments in the SOTA) an interdisciplinary Minor in Sound Design. She currently serves as the Artistic Director for the department. Before coming to VCU, she was a Professor in the Performing Arts Dept. at Savannah College of Art and Design and was also the Artistic Director for that department. She led two major west coast theatres for 21 years before shifting her focus to academia, as Artistic Director of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Seattle Repertory Theatre. During her tenure as Artistic Director for these two nationally recognized theatres, she had the great good fortune to direct plays by many major American theatre artists, including Nilo Cruz, Phillip Kan Gotanda, Amy Freed, and many others. She is most proud of her production of Deborah Rogin’s adaptation of Maxine Hong Kingston’s seminal novel, THE WOMAN WARRIOR, which was presented in Berkeley, Boston, and Los Angeles, and the national tour of Anna Deavere Smith’s TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES, both productions which originated at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. At Seattle Rep, she co-produced (with Pittsburgh Public Theatre) the world premiere of August Wilson’s KING HEDLEY II, and also commissioned and produced the world premiere of Wilson’s  auto-biographical solo performance, HOW I LEARNED WHAT I LEARNED. She has directed at major theatres across the US, including the Manhattan Theatre Club, the Public Theatre, the Huntington Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Mark Taper Forum, Ford’s Theatre, Arena Stage and many others. Her directing work has received many awards, including several Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Award, Hollywood Dramalogue Awards, the Elliot Norton Award, USA Today’s Ten Best Plays of 1998 (both for the WOMAN WARRIOR), Seattle Footlight Awards, an Obie Award (with Theatre X- Milwaukee for A FIERCE LONGING). She accepted the Tony Award for Berkeley Rep as Outstanding Regional Theatre in 1998. She has also directed operas at Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, and Opera Colorado. Her directing work in academic theatre has twice received citations for Outstanding Direction by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (for FAHRENHEIT 451 at Savannah College of Art and Design) and SHE KILLS MONSTERS (with Dorie Barton and Wes Seals) at VCU. She was a long time Executive Board Member of SDC (the Society for Stage Directors and Choreographers) and received the President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Union in 2019. She now serves as the Treasurer of the SDC Foundation, and is also the Vice- President of the National Theatre Conference. She received her BA from Bennington College with a triple major in Theatre, Music, and Anthropology, and her MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. In Richmond, she has directed two productions for Virginia Repertory Theatre ( A DOLL’S HOUSE PT 2 in 2022, and MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY in 2023 and is excited to direct the world premiere of Chandler Hubbard’s ROMAN A CLEF at Firehouse Theatre in Spring 2024.