"There are several opportunities that have been presented to me that I wish to explore," said Ott in a released statement. "The theatre is well positioned for its next evolution."
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.
The company has overcome decreasing grant support and a faltering economy in recent years — witnessed by the financial struggle of the nearby Seattle ACT Theatre, which nearly closed. "The last two years have certainly been difficult ones for any of us who run theaters," stated Ott. "The challenges we face in light of the deteriorated local and national economy as well as the changed world circumstances brought on by 9/11 and its aftermath, have made the difficult job of running a theater even more difficult."
This past season, Ott directed Seattle Rep's stagings of Beauty of the Father, Misalliance and Living Out. Under her tutelage, the company has presented 13 world premieres including August Wilson's King Hedley II, Charlayne Woodard's In Real Life, Robert William Sherwood's The Last True Believer, Sandra Tsing Loh's Sugar Plum Fairy, Wendy MacLeod's Things Being What They Are, Steven Dietz's Over the Moon and Katie Forgette's The O'Conner Girls.
She will direct Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, to open the upcoming season which will also include Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out, Theresa Rebeck's Bad Dates, Michael Frayn's Noises Off, August Wilson's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Chaim Potok and Aaron Posner's The Chosen, Mary Zimmerman's The Secret in the Wings and W. Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife. "Sharon will be truly missed," said Shauna Mueller, President of the Board of Trustees for the company. "She has made a significant contribution to the success of the theater and we wish her well in the future. The Board is grateful to Sharon for her energy and creativity, and for her tremendous contribution to the art and success of Seattle Repertory Theatre."
The search for a replacement for Ott will begin immediately through a subcommittee of the Board. For more information on Seattle Rep, 155 Mercer Street in Seattle, WA, visit www.seatttlerep.org.