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Lisa Milinazzo



Story is medicine. Story has healing power- holds nuggets of enlightenment and wisdom deeply embedded inside, just waiting to be unearthed. Theatre is Alchemy. When I gather with a group of actors in the first rehearsal to tell the story of the play – I watch a chemical change begin. The story now has presence, takes on a life of its own and lives in the ether. When an audience joins and witnesses what we’ve created, listens and observes, perhaps for the first time, there is real potential for transformation for all involved.


I live for the alchemy and the medicine. This is why I am a director.


I lean into worlds that teeter on the edge of comedy and tragedy. I love a cauldron of peculiar, desperate personalities. Stories of alienation, the juxtaposition of the disenfranchised and the privileged- draw me in. The twisted cry of the lost, voiceless soul is tremendously meaningful to me.


Some isolated, bereft person sits at home and charts a course of vengeance. They plan acts of violence, scheming to finally get their chance, make a statement and stake a claim in a world that doesn’t belong to them, through illicit means, violence and rage. 


My roots are Sicilian American and French American, blue-collar. I was raised with a mythic sense of right and wrong, a heart for the disenfranchised and the underdog. Colorful characters from both sides of the tracks paraded in and out of our lower middle-class home growing up. Our next-door neighbor came over every morning in bathrobe and slippers to brew the coffee. All of it was great fodder for the embryonic writer/director growing inside me and is the lens through which I tell stories.


Each time I begin to write or enter the world of a play, I chart the obvious journey the characters go on, what they do to and want from one another.  I then catch a glimpse of a closed door at the bottom of some dark psychic stairwell, and I invite myself into a less comfortable place, where I might be afraid to go. I invite my actors to join me into that private subterranean world of the play. The journey becomes exciting for all of us.  Despite whatever horrors that characters inflict upon one another, I listen underneath the text for the silent longing that screams inside the characters and the play, and I direct from that place.


I use exploratory improvisation and physical work to discover the world of the play. The universe we create has a life and breadth even greater than the play, and larger than all the artists involved. My process is shaped in part by my years as a member of the Actors Space ensemble in New York, headed by my mentor, artistic director, Alan Langdon. I have also been influenced by Joan Littlewood, Mary Overlie and Robert Group.


Percolating now

Some of the absolute genius writers I’ve been collaborating with recently include: Elinor T. Vanderburg, Derek Murphy, C.S. Hanson and Quincy Long. I am honored to work with them. Each one is vibrantly gifted, tells quirky, risky stories of the heart and chooses to look at things others might flinch at.

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