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Giovanna Sardelli

Giovanna Sardelli Named UNLV Alumna of the Year

On November 11th, Giovanna Sardelli will be honored by the University of Nevada Las Vegas as its College of Fine Arts Alumna of the Year. Giovanna grew up in a performing household, so it’s no surprise she made her name in theater. As a Las Vegas native and daughter of legendary entertainer Nelson Sardelli, she certainly was predisposed to the industry. Since departing the University of Nevada Las Vegas with a degree in theatre arts, Giovanna has built quite a name for herself in acting and directing circles on both coasts.

Although she has directed plays in regional theaters across the country, Giovanna spent the majority of her career working extensively in New York and California. Her impressive resume includes being named director of new works at TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley (the 2019 Tony Award winner for Best Regional Theater). Her honors also include a pair of prestigious awards for her directing skills. In 2008, she won the Joe A. Callaway Award for her direction of the play Animals Out of Paper with the Second Stage Theater in New York; while in 2016, she and her team won the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play for the Geffen Playhouse production of Guards at the Taj.

After finishing her studies at UNLV, Sardelli headed east to earn a Master of Fine Arts from the prestigious graduate acting program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. A decade later, after an acting career that included a stint as Nurse Claire on the soap opera Another World, she returned to the Tisch School’s acting program, graduating from its director’s lab. That was followed by more than a decade spent as a guest artist faculty member at its School for the Arts in the dance department and in the graduate acting program.

On the way to earning a reputation as a powerhouse female director in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field, Giovanna often produces and directs world premieres of new works that push the theater industry’s proverbial envelope. She is also a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Giovanna Sardelli has proven herself as an award-winning director, directing world premieres of plays by Rajiv Joseph, Matthew Lopez, Theresa Rebeck, Lynn Rosen, Joe Gilford, Jeff Augustine, Lauren Yee, Zayd Dohrn and Zoe Kazan, among others. Working with Pulitzer finalist Rajiv Joseph has become something of a specialty for Giovanna, who is now working on her 13th production with the esteemed playwright.

While based in New York City, Giovanna has worked Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre, Vineyard Theatre, Playwright’s Realm, Second Stage and RoundaboutTheatre Company. Her extensive regional theatre experience includes San Diego’s Old Globe, the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Hartford Stage Company, San Francisco Playhouse, LA’s Mark Taper Forum and the Cleveland Playhouse.