"My life as freelance director has been exciting and rewarding. It’s been filled with a variety of new experiences, trials and risk," said Esbjornson, the one-time head of Off Broadway's Classic Stage Company (1992-1999). "But when it comes time to find an artistic context for my work, I’ve had to rely almost entirely on a small group of friends and colleagues. So seven years after leaving an artistic director position, I found myself looking for opportunities to renew a sense of community and connection. Seattle Rep and the city of Seattle seem ideal places to do just that."
Esbjornson recently staged the 2004 Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park offering Much Ado About Nothing and the Worth Street Theatre's revival of The Normal Heart. He has also staged the world premiere of Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? on Broadway, Arthur Miller's Resurrection Blues at the Guthrie Theatre, Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood at the Public and Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco. He is currently slated to direct the Off-Broadway production of Kathleen Tolan's Memory House at Playwrights Horizons.
Ott joined Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1997, filling in the big shoes left by her predecessor Daniel Sullivan — whose tenure spanned 17 years with the company. Ott previously held the artistic director position at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for 13 years, culminating in the San Francisco Bay area stage winning the Regional Tony Award.
Ott will continues in her responsibilities for the remainder of this season with Esbjornson begin work in the next few weeks with theatre staff and board on planning for the 2005-2006 season.
"I have known David for many years. He is a fine man and a fine artist and I wish him the very best," said Ott in a release. "I am thrilled to be able to say that David assumes leadership of a very strong and vibrant organization. Our endowment stands at $15 million, we have bucked a national trend of declining subscriptions, and we are enjoying a very strong season this year with all the shows thus far exceeding their goals. The theatre is well-positioned for this next step in its long history."