Directing work spans professional, educational & community based settings. Here is a snapshot:

Selected Full Productions Directed

Leaner Than Light by Lisa Schlesinger University of Iowa              

Over the Tavern by Tom Dudzick, Portland Stage Company             

As You Like It by William Shakespeare, Stage at Spring Point        

The Price by Arthur Miller Portland Stage Company

The Miser, by Moliere, Stage at Spring Point

The Foreigner by Larry Shue Portland Stage Company

A Perfect Ganesh by Terrence McNally Portland Stage Company

Jack and the Beanstalk musical, adapted by Charles Ludlam, Children’s Theatre of Maine (CTM)

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury CTM High School Program

The Magic Island, musical, by C.P. Taylor Children’s Theater of Maine

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt CTM High School Program   

Cool Cat, Nice Shoes, a musical retelling of Puss N Boots Children’s Theater of Maine


Selected Plays Directed, Created in Collaboration

Vaudeville 2015, original, Dance/Theater Projects

The Living News Project: SHELTER/CHICAGO, Director/Lead Playwright, Chicago, IL

Home I, II, and III, Editor and Playwright: International Writing Program, Global Express Festival, U. of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

         Written in collaboration with playwrights, novelists and poets from several countries.

Bullying: What We Weren’t Taught, Lead playwright/Director, Dance Theater Projects, Portland, ME

Letters to the President, Created in residency at Ocean Avenue Elementary School, Portland, ME

Tea, a Performance Project  Playwright, Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, MA

Tea, a Performance Project  Playwright, Portland Arts & Technology High School, Portland, ME

Voices, Lead playwright, with students at New Dance Studio

Maine Lives on Stage, oral history community collaboration, Playwright/Director, Portland Stage Company

PSC Toasts Portland, a community collaboration, Playwright/Director, Portland Stage Company


Selected Plays Directed in Developmental Staged Readings

The Living News Project: SHELTER/CHICAGO, Chicago, IL

         Columbia College Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center, Cornerstone Community Outreach

Leaner than Light by Lisa Schlesinger, University of Iowa

Celestial Bodies by Lisa Schlesinger, Portland Stage Company

The Good People of Nemus Gravida by Micah Ariel James, Columbia College Chicago

Dust Resonance by Zan Rosenthal, Columbia College Chicago

SLAM! by Keith Sprewer, Columbia College Chicago

Rooms for Breathing by Akisha Al Amin, Columbia College Chicago

Dog Act by Liz Duffy Adams, Portland Stage Company

Kidding Jane by Gus Schulenburg, Portland Stage Company

Remuda by William Donnelly, Portland Stage Company

House of Games by Nihad Sirees, Syria, Portland Stage Company

The View from Tall by Caitlin Parish, Portland Stage Company

Melting Point, by Beatrice Kabow, Germany, Portland Stage Company

Homeland by Charles Mulekwa, Uganda, University of Iowa and Portland Stage Company

The Shadow by Mazen A.I. Sa’adeh, Palestine, University of Iowa and Portland Stage Company

Leo’s Monologue by Ksenia Dragunskaya, Russia, University of Iowa and Portland Stage Company

LISA DiFRANZA: Artistic Direction and Leadership

The Living News Theater Project (2010-ongoing)


Created and directed a large-scale collaboration between professional artists, politicians, students, journalists and staff and residents at a homeless shelter, to form a theatrical living newspaper inspired by the Federal Theater Project of the 1930’s. SHELTER/CHICAGO investigates homelessness and how the media reports the story. Produced performances at The Chicago Cultural Center, Columbia College Chicago and Cornerstone Community Outreach. Received support from the Illinois Humanities Council, the City of Chicago, 3ARTS, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Cornerstone Community Outreach, Streetwise Magazine, Columbia College Chicago. and CAN-TV.

Dance Theater Projects, Portland, ME (2007 – 2014)


Directed productions for seven summer seasons.

Portland Stage Company, Portland, ME  (2002 – 2012)

Affiliate Artist and Guest Director

Directed a wide variety of theatrical performances on the theater’s main stage and in studio spaces.. Produced and directed festivals of new American and international work.

International Writing Program, University of Iowa (2002 – 2012)

Guest Director

Conceived and directed an annual workshop session with professional playwrights, poets  and  novelists from several countries, culminating in staged readings in the Global Express Theater Festival.

The Children’s Theater of Maine, Portland, ME  (2007)

Interim Director  (short term contract – hired for transition work)

Led the theater through an artistic merger, working closely with board of directors, volunteers and community members.

The Center for Cultural Exchange, Portland, ME (2006)

Interim Director  (short term contract – hired for transition work)

Led the performing arts institution through an artistic leadership transition, and facilitated a building sale and complete restructuring of the organization. Worked with arts organizations, board and volunteers.

Portland Stage Company, Portland, ME  (1999 – 2002)

Literary and Education Director

Produced and directed several annual festivals of new work for the theater. Supervised solicitation and selection scripts for production. Mentored and supervised college interns in artistic and technical departments. Taught classes and workshops for high school students.   Led humanities discussions for theater audiences. Edited and wrote introduction to: “Little Festival of the Unexpected 2000 & 2001” published by Stage and Screen, NY. PSC is a LORT D professional theater.

The Arts Academy at Portland Arts and Technology High School (1998 – 1999)

Portland Public Schools, Portland, ME / Maine Arts Commission

Project Director. An appointment funded by the Maine Arts Commission.

Designed and launched an innovative, high caliber public school arts program for high school students created as a pilot program for the State of Maine. Worked with community board of directors to establish the vision and mission of the program; developed curriculum; taught guest seminars; hired artist faculty; recruited students; negotiated new certification category for artist-educators; publicly promoted the program; cultivated and solicited funds.

The Children’s Theatre of Maine, Portland ME (1991-1998)

Artistic Director

Completely revitalized a 71-year-old children’s theater company that had been dormant for two years. Created and upheld a clear artistic vision for the theater; Developed and professionally produced and directed artistic programming for seven years; Responsible for budget creation, and hiring and managing staff; Worked closely with board of directors and teams of volunteers; Raised funds; Functioned as a public spokesperson; Brought the theater out of debt and onto sound financial footing; Conceived and managed a highly successful annual Young Playwrights Contest that inspired hundreds of young writers state-wide, and culminated in full-scale productions.

Portland Stage Company, Portland, ME (1988 – 1991)

Associate Director

Served as creator, director and artistic supervisor of a multi-year series of workshop productions designed to link the theater with its community. Re-designed and administered the theater’s school outreach department, serving 5000 students per year. Hosted educational television programs, holding public discussions with scholars and artists, funded by the Maine Humanities Council. Restructured the college internship program based on professional travel grant to research models.

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Waterford, CT (summers 1982-1984)

National Playwrights Conference Production Staff

Served as production staff for three seasons of the professional conference.                                                                                                                                  

Off-off Broadway, New York, NY (1979-1982)

Stage Manager and Assistant Director

Ensemble Studio Theatre, Off Center Theater, Theater for the New City, Open Space, Wonderhorse Theater, Fields Repertory Company