Lisa Formosa-Parmingiano is an important member of the community as she continues to inspire others with her incredible knowledge of the theater while providing a space to master various acting techniques. She believes there are aspects of the theater that can contribute to the journey of self discovery and lead to active self awareness. She acts as the Director of Education at Chicago Street Theatre, where she administers the Teen Ensemble, the Great Teen Festival, and takes on many other duties that involve the theatre, such as writing grants.
Lisa was born and raised in Chicago, lived in New York, and subsequently found herself and her family in the city of Valparaiso.
“I found myself in the Valparaiso area in a roundabout way,” she said.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, she owned a theater company in Chicago while working at Columbia college. After some transition, Lisa traveled to New York to achieve her graduate degree at New York After School Drama. She was then selected as a Life Member of the Actor Studio itself and served on the board as the first Director of Graduate Admissions with the Actors Studio Drama School.
“I stayed there [New York] for ten years. I fell in love and got married,” Formosa-Parmingiano said.
When her youngest son was born, she decided to move back to reconnect with family.
“In the ten years that I had gone, my Italian family had moved out of Chicago and into Northwest Indiana. I wanted to be near my family, so we ended up moving here to Valparaiso,” Formosa-Parmingiano said.
She stumbled upon an advertisement for Chicago Street Theatre, and after her experience in the city she thought it would be nice to work in the arts environment again.
“I met Donna Blanchard at a luncheon, who used to be the Managing Director here. We completely clicked. She said come and see what we do at CST,” Formosa-Parmingiano said.
With a plethora of theatre experience working with people of all ages, Lisa found that her journey had guided her find a deeper appreciation for working with the youth, specifically.
“I had only taught at a college level, and hadn't worked a lot with children,” she thought. “But I have a child and there’s nothing more fascinating. They need the arts.”
Chicago Street Theatere hired Lisa as part time Director of Education where she became passionately absorbed with teaching the youth.
“It became really important to me to teach kids, they have an imagination, explore and pretend! A lot of the work I do at an adult level is reminding adults to pretend and that it’s okay to just play,” Formosa-Parmingiano said. “When you are working with kids you don’t have to remind them of that.”
Throughout her 30 years of teaching, Lisa believes that the acting technique “Method” is the most misunderstood. She presses that the importance of a teacher to allow a student to dive into a character is equally as important for them to understand how to come back home.
The Teen Ensemble at Chicago Street Theatre is made up of 30 members that include level one and two. They recieve incredible training, write their own material, and are challenged in elevated classes. She is thankful to be apart of a theatre that can put on age- appropriate plays that deal with what teens are actually going through, such as going on a date, striving to be popular, or dealing with depression.
“All these opportunities give the teens an outlet for their creativity, while helping them through their creativity,” Formosa-Parmingiano said.
This year Lisa is celebrating her 10th year serving at Chicago Street Theatre and continues her work at Columbia College in Chicago. She is thankful for her journey in the arts to where it has led her to become.
“I’ve been able to have a life in the arts, and that is something I am really grateful for,” Formosa-Parmingiano expressed.