The Theatre School > About > Faculty & Staff > Performance > Lisa Portes

Lisa Portes

  • Head of Directing
  • MFA University of California-San Diego
    BA (with honors) Oberlin College​​​​​​​
  • Performance
  • 773-325-7993

Lisa Portes serves as the Head of Directing at The Theatre School. She is a director, educator, and leader dedicated to expanding the circle of Americans reflected in 21st century American theatre. In 2012 Lisa co-founded the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC), a national advocacy network and thinktank which promotes Latinx theatre as central to the American theatre. She serves as artistic producer of the tri-annual LTC Carnaval, a festival of new Latinx plays hosted by The Theatre School at DePaul University. She currently serves on the board of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the executive board of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC). 

Recent projects include Rightlynd by Ike Holter (Victory Gardens Theatre); The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa Fasthorse (Cincinnati Playhouse); I Come from Arizona by Carlos Murillo (Children's Theatre Company); Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías (Denver Center); Breach: A Manifesto on Race in America through the Eyes of a Black Girl Recovering from Self Hate by Antoninette Nwandu (Victory Gardens Theatre); The Glass Menagerie (California Shakespeare Theater); Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar (Cincinnati Playhouse); This is Modern Art by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Grounded by George Brant (American Blues Theatre); Ghostwritten (Goodman Theatre), After a Hundred Years (Guthrie Theatre), and Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West (TimeLine Theatre Company), all by Naomi Iizuka; Night Over Ezinga by Adriana Sevahn-Nichols (Silk Road Rising); Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes (Teatro Vista and Rivendell Theatre at Steppenwolf Theatre Company); Permanent Collection by Thomas Gibbons (Northlight Theatre); The Piano Teacher by Julia Cho; Far Away by Caryl Churchill; In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks (Next Theatre); and Wilder: An Erotic Chamber Musical by Erin Cressida Wilson, Jack Herrick, and Make Craver (Playwrights Horizons, NYC).

Primarily a director of new American plays and musicals, Lisa's work has been seen regionally at California Shakespeare Theater, Guthrie Theatre, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Cincinnati Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, McCarter Theatre, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In Chicago she has directed for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, TimeLine Theatre Company, American Blues Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Next Theatre, and Teatro Vista. New York credits include work at Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep, New York Theatre Workshop, the Flea Theatre, and The Public Theater. Lisa served as the Associate Director of the Tony Award-winning musical The Who's Tommy, and staged its international productions in Canada, Germany, and the U.K, as well as its 20th anniversary remount at the Stratford Theatre Festival in 2013.

DePaul credits include In the Heights by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes , The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis, Hamlet, Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill, Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, and Polaroid Stories by Naomi Iizuka. Her Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences credits include Night Runner by Ike Holter, Barrio Grrrl: A Musical by Quiara Alegría Hudes, Pinkalicious! The Musical by Elizabeth and Victoria Kahn, Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans: A Salsa Musical by Karen Zacarías, and Highest Heaven by José Cruz González.

In 2016 Lisa was honored with the SDC Zelda Fichandler Award which is de​dicated to "an outstanding director or choreographer who has transformed the regional arts landscape." Lisa is the first freelance director to receive this award. Other awards include the TCG SPARK Leadership Fellowship, the NEA/TCG Career Development grant for directors, the Drama League Directing Fellowship, as well as a Fullbright/Hays Fellowship. Lisa received her BA with Honors in Theatre from Oberlin College and her MFA in Directing from the University of California, San Diego. She lives in Bridgeport with her husband, playwright Carlos Murillo, and their two children, Eva Rose and Carlos Alejandro.

Lisa recently organized the 2018 Carnaval of New Latinx Work. ​​