About Our Educators

Dear Parents & Students,

When we faced the beginning of this pandemic in March, I had to make a decision — almost immediately — what do I do about the theatre classes and the Teen Ensemble’s performances?  For those of you that know me, you will understand that it is not in my nature to throw up my hands and say, “oh, well.”  Instructors, Jenna & Gina and our wonderful Interns, also felt the same.  We knew we had to quickly accommodate, even if we had never taught a theatre class on-line or navigated Zoom.  I am proud of what we were able to learn and accomplish and terribly grateful for the patience of all the parents and students.

Please know I have spent the summer creating exciting curriculum for on-line engagement.  I am a wiz at Zoom now and many theatre educators across this country are connecting, finding solutions and keeping the arts alive.  We are also putting together a wonderful socially-distanced program for those who will enter our classroom with safety at the forefront of our plans. 

Much has changed in our world.  In the shuffle, I cling to those things that have not … my love of both theatre and teaching.  I promised to conduct our classes with a dedication to safety and creativity.  We must find a way to continue …

I hope you and yours are staying healthy and happy.  I look forward to seeing your masked faces soon!  In the meantime, should you have questions or concerns, please email me at lisafp@chicagostreet.org.


My work grows out of the conviction that it is vital and necessary to teach two facets in all creative work in the theatre — to emphasize “coming home” as much as, if not more than, “going there.” The starting point and underlying current in all my work is based in clarifying and illuminating the often blurred difference between using yourself and losing yourself. That, to me, is the purpose of a system or method of training, and the distinction between creative expression and dangerous indulgence. 

  • I believe acting requires a great deal of listening, generosity, and discipline.
  • I believe it is essential to balance constructive criticism with nurturing support in order to create a studio environment based in trust and one conducive to uninhibited exploration and risk-taking.
  • I believe it is necessary to originate critical thinking and significant for artists to learn how to make assessment of their own process/progress and how to actively engage in the candid exchange of constructive feedback.
  • I believe it is pivotal when developing artists are encouraged to discover and, in turn, define their place in and responsibility for community and the world at large.
  • I believe collaboration is at the core of truly exceptional theatre work and that it must be encouraged at all times and inspired by example.
  • I believe we need theatre and the arts now more than ever and that it is our responsibility as educators and artists to ensure they flourish.
  • I believe it is the responsibility of the instructor and organization to maintain professional protocol and collegial courtesy at all times, regardless of artistic differences or personality variances.

The study of acting is a journey and as such, I use the analogy. Students are asked to prepare for the trip by packing a metaphorical suitcase. I bring my own, packed to the brim with passion and a collection of influences and experiences — a piece of all I have studied with, worked with, read, and observed; personal discoveries, moments of inspiration, accidents, patience, understanding and compassion. I ask all to simultaneously pack commitment, discipline, respect, and fearlessness.

The journey itself involves learning foundational skills which I refer to as a legend on a map. I believe if you have learned the skills necessary to interpret a legend, you can read any map, travel any terrain and, most importantly, always navigate your way back home.

© Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano, 2008

Lisa M.R. Formosa-Parmigiano returned to her hometown, Chicago, after a ten-year stay in New York where she received her MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School in May 1999, followed by selection for Life Membership to the prestigious Actors Studio in March, 2000.  She was a guest artist, faculty member, and Director of Admission with the Drama School from 2000-04.  Her professional work focused on emerging writers and she participated at Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Writer’s Room, and had the privilege of working with Romulus Linny, James Ryan, and Laura Maria Censebella.  Her last performance in NYC was a premiere at Circle in the Square.  While in Chicago, she was a founding member and Artistic Director of Wild Life Theatre Company while working with Columbia College’s Department of Film & Video as Graduate Coordinator, part-time faculty, and Director of the Festival of Illinois Film & Video Artists.  In 1994, she was awarded a CityArts Emerging Artist’s grant, and Wild Life’s work was chosen “Best of Year” by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tribune.  She has taught international workshops in Caracas, Venezuela and Devon, England.  At Chicago Street, she has appeared in Keely & Du, The Rose Tattoo, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia, Beauty Queen of Leenane and as Sister Aloyisis in Doubt for which she was awarded Best Principal Actress by the Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation.  In Valparaiso, she has directed A Charlie Brown Christmas, Comedy of Errors, How to Eat Like A Child, The Tempest, Frost/Nixon, and What the Butler Saw. In over 30 years of theatre activity, she has taught, directed or acted in over 60 productions.

Jenna Johnson graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, English and Japanese Studies and completed her Master of Arts in Theatre History, Theory, and Literature at Indiana University. A devoted theatre scholar, she has served as a production dramaturg for Eurydice (Valparaiso University),Twelfth Night (Valparaiso University), and Language of Angels (Indiana University), as well as the assistant dramaturg for the World Premiere of Year Zero (Victory Gardens). She has also worked as the Assistant Dramaturg for the Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama, an assistant to the Literary Manager at Victory Gardens Theater, and as an instructor for the Young Actor Shakespeare Workshop in Valpo. Shakespeare is one of Jenna’s major passions. One of her life goals, which she is thankful to have achieved, was to see all of his plays in live production. Her parents even partly named her for a Shakespearean character! (Her middle name) When you meet her, see if you can guess her namesake. As an alumna of the Chicago Street Theatre education program, Jenna is thrilled to have the opportunity to return home as an instructor. Her childhood was blessed by the presence of theatre and she can’t wait to share her love of theatre with all of you!
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