Head of MFA Directing, Artistic Director Chicago Playworks

MFA University of California-San Diego

BA (with Honors) Oberlin College


LISA PORTES serves as the head of directing and the artistic director of Chicago Playworks for Young Audiences for The Theatre School.

Primarily a director of new American work, her recent projects include: the world premieres of Ghostwritten by Naomi Iizuka (Goodman Theatre), After 100 Years by Naomi Iizuka (Guthrie Theatre), and Ski Dubai by Laura Jacqmin (Steppenwolf Theatre, First Look Repertory of New Work). 

Other Chicago credits include: the world premiere of Night Over Erzinga by Adriana Sevahn-Nichols (Silk Road Rising),  Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes (Steppenwolf Garage with Teatro Vista and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble), Spare Change by Mia McCullough (Steppenwolf, First Look Rep), Permanent Collection by Thomas Gibbons (Northlight Theatre), The Piano Teacher by Julia Cho, In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks and Far Away by Caryl Churchill (NextTheatre), and Offspring of the Cold War by Carlos Murillo (Walkabout Theatre).

New York credits include: Wilder by Erin Cressida Wilson and the Red Clay Ramblers (Playwrights Horizons), How to Write While You Sleep by Madeleine Olnek, Hurricane by Erin Wilson and Fur by Migdalia Cruz (Soho Rep). 

Other regional credits include: How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World by Wendy McLeod and Michael Silversher (Kennedy Center), Kudzu: A Southern Musical by Doug Marlette and the Red Clay Ramblers, and Eleanor: An American Love Story by Tom Tierny and John Forster (Ford’s Theatre).

A director of new American plays and musicals, Lisa has directed numerous readings and workshops in such development programs as Sundance Summer Theatre Lab, Vineyard Arts Project, Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, New Stages at Goodman Theatre, New Work Now at the Public Theatre, Mondays@3 at New York Theatre Workshop, the Cherry Lane Alternative, Hispanic Playwrights Project at South Coast Repertory Theatre, the McCarter Theatre Lab, and the Cape Cod Theatre Project.

Lisa served as the associate director for the Tony Award-winning musical, The Who’s Tommy mounting its international productions in Canada, the U.K., and Germany.

Lisa is an artistic associate at Next Theatre and Chicago Children’s Theatre. Awards include the NEA/TCG Career Development Grant, the Drama League Directing Fellowship and a Fulbright/Hays award. She received her M.F.A. in directing from the University of California, San Diego.