Giovanna Sardelli

TheatreWorks’ longtime Director of New Works, Gio was named Artistic Director in July 2023.

Giovanna Sardelli, who has served as TheatreWorks’ Director of New Works since 2014, assumed the position of Artistic Director in July of 2023.

A stage director of national renown, Sardelli was spotlighted by The New York Times as one of a new generation of rising female directors sought after by both veteran playwrights and in-demand younger writers. She has closely collaborated on new works with Tony Award winner Mathew Lopez (The Inheritance) and Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, both of whom have debuted works at TheatreWorks. She has also directed acclaimed productions at theatres in New York and across the country, including The Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse, Alley Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company, and others, as well as many hit productions at TheatreWorks.

Said Sardelli, “I have loved TheatreWorks from the very first work I directed here and consider it my theatrical home. While I have enjoyed the past two decades of creating works at theatres in New York and across America, I learned during the pandemic what it is like to settle down in one place and become grounded in a community. This is the place I was hoping to stay, and having this opportunity is both exciting and gratifying.”

Sardelli’s TheatreWorks directing credits include A Distinct Society, Nan and the Lower Body, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, They Promised Her the Moon, Archduke, Crimes of the Heart, The North Pool, and Somewhere. Other directing credits include Describe the Night (Obie Award Best New Play, TheatreWorks New Works Festival 2014) at Atlantic Theater Co., the World Premiere of Archduke (TW NWF 2016) at Mark Taper Forum, and An Entomologist’s Love Story (TW NWF 2014) at San Francisco Playhouse. 

Before joining TheatreWorks, Giovanna was on the faculty of New York University, Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program and the Department of Dance.



Debbie joined TheatreWorks in November 2022.

Over the past 30 years, Debbie has held C-suite positions as Executive Director of Opera Parallèle, Carmel Bach Festival, as Managing Director of California Shakespeare Theatre, Baltimore’s Center Stage, and Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. She was engaged as a consultant by the Philadelphia Orchestra to support the acquisition of international corporate sponsorships and the planning of global exchange programs associated with their inaugural China Residency initiative which launched in Beijing, China in May 2012 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s historic visit to the People’s Republic of China.

She recently concluded a two-year community-based research project as Managing Director for Anna Deavere Smith’s The Pipeline Project. The Project addresses inequality by working in communities of Indigenous people, Black people, and people of color, eliciting their stories and providing them with meticulously constructed opportunities for expression. Debbie has been retained by Anna Deavere Smith to serve as a management consultant to continue to work towards the Project’s end goal: a fictional play and documentary about the vulnerability of young women and non-binary individuals who live in American communities torn apart by violence and generations of poverty.

Debbie serves as Board President of the San Francisco Community Music Center, and is on the boards of Playwrights Foundation, and the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. She is past-Board Chair of Theatre Bay Area. On a national level, she served on the Leadership Council of the National Small Business Association – the nation’s first small-business advocacy organization based in Washington, DC with 65,000 members across every state and industry in the US.  

Her past board affiliations include Theatre Communications Group, the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (Board President), and Network of Ensemble Theatres.

Debbie is the creative consultant for writer William Kinsolving on the development of his new musical, That Week With The Bachs, which was presented in San Francisco in February 2023 and will be developed nationally.

Debbie’s transformative leadership work in the realm of community engagement is featured as one of 13 case studies in “Creative Social Change: Leadership for a Healthy World” in the International Leadership Association Series which assembles thought leaders to reimagine leadership in building a healthy, sustainable, and equitable world.

Her book, Dancing in Their Light, a Daughter’s Unfinished Memoir, (published in March 2022) chronicles her family’s historical connection to the missionaries of China and of the pioneering impact her family of immigrants have made to advance the fields of research, science, medicine, academia, engineering, arts, humanities, and culinary hospitality in the United States.