Who We Are
Michael Mendelson, Founding Artistic Director. Michael is classically trained and is well known in the Portland theatre community as an actor, director and teacher. He is a member of the Artists Repertory Theatre Acting Ensemble and Actors’ Equity Association. He serves on the Board of Directors of PATA and is on the faculty of the Portland Actors Conservatory.
He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University and a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Washington Professional Actor’s Training Program under Jack Clay. While in New York City, he studied with Tanya Berezin, a founding member and an Artistic Director of Circle Repertory Theatre.
He directed Love’s Labour’s Lost at Northwest Classical Theatre Company, Stones In His Pockets at Public House Theatre, As Is at Key Productions, The Meaning of Prayer at Verbatim Productions and staged readings of Botticelli at Profile Theatre and Dinner With Friends at Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre.
His acting credits at Artists Repertory Theatre include Max Tarazov in Superior Donuts, Leo in The Cherry Orchard, Brabantio and Lodovico in Othello, Leo Mercury in Design for Living, Steve in Becky’s New Car, Big Stone in Eurydice, Gabe, Krystee and the Street Punk in Holidazed, Kulygin in Three Sisters, Barry in House and Garden, Kenneth in Orson’s Shadow, George in Theater District, Garry Essendine in Present Laughter and John/James in Love! Valour! Compassion! Other local credits include King Lear and Betrayal (Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Portland), Burn This, The Lisbon Traviata, Klonsky and Schwartz and The Glass Menagerie (Profile Theatre Project); Fuente Ovejuna (Miracle Theatre); Edward II, Bent and Jeffrey (triangle! Productions); As You Like It and The Winter’s Tale (Tygres Heart Shakespeare); The Rivals, Comfort and Joy, Macbeth, and Mrs. Warren’s Profession (Portland Center Stage), A Christmas Carol (A Contemporary Theatre); A Hatful of Rain, Waiting for Vern, Laughing Wild, and The Importance of Being Earnest (New Rose Theatre).
New York credits include The Merchant of Venice (Revolving Shakespeare Co.), Leontes in The Winter’s Tale (Theatre 1010), The Normal Heart (Lincoln Center/Clark Studio Theatre), Behind These Eyes (Genesius Guild), and Rebecca In Waiting (The Barrow Group).
Regional credits include work at PCPA Theatrefest, Paper Mill Playhouse, Saint Michael’s Playhouse, Penobscot Theatre Company, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, First Stage Milwaukee, Idaho Rep, Attic Theater and Wisconsin, Utah and Berkeley Shakespeare Festivals.
Karen Rathje, Managing Director. Karen is a founding member of Portland Shakespeare Project and has served as its Managing Director since its inception in 2010.
She is a graduate of Occidental College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and the University of Southern California, where she received a Juris Doctorate Degree and was the Editor in Chief of Major Tax Planning and The Computing Law Journal.
She practiced law in California for a number of years before becoming the manager of a private, family operated real estate and investment business. Presently, she is the Audience Services Manager for Artist Repertory Theatre, where she has worked since 2008. In that capacity, she supervises house managers, organizes events for patrons, oversees all aspects of patron relations and services, manages concessions, supervises over three hundred volunteers, moderates talkbacks, plans education events and works closely with marketing, development and other departments that interact with the front of the house at Artist Repertory Theatre. She comes from a theatrical family and both of her children are active in the theatre.
Lisa Harrow, Resident Artist. Lisa Harrow’s stage career began at the Royal Shakespeare Company. While there, she played many roles, including Olivia in John Barton’s production of Twelfth Night, and Portia in The Merchant of Venice opposite Sir Patrick Stewart.
Lisa has performed on stage throughout the United States. She appeared in the long-running off-Broadway production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit in the leading role of Vivian Bearing. And she was named 2001 Performer of the Year for her title performance in Medea at Pittsburg Public Playhouse.
Her many television and film roles include Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in the House of Commons, in the BBC drama Nancy Astor which aired as part of the PBS series Masterpiece Theatre; and Helen Anderson in the film adaptation of James Herriot’s book “All Creatures Great and Small,” in which she starred alongside Anthony Hopkins and Simon Ward. She won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in The Last Days of Chez Nous, and also starred in the ABC television miniseries Come in Spinner.
In 2013, Lisa directed King Lear to mark the 50th anniversary of the University of Auckland’s Summer Shakespeare Series.
She came to Portland Shakespeare Project in summer 2014 to teach a Master Class, and she returns as a Resident Artist in 2015 to direct Twelfth Night and teach additional classes.
Michael Nehring, Education Director and Associate Artistic Director. Michael is Professor of Theatre at Chapman University in Orange, California. He is an accomplished actor, director, choreographer, and teacher. He has been a founding member of several successful theatre companies including Shakespeare Orange County, for which he has played leading roles such as Prospero, Shylock, Benedick, Iago, Malvolio, Polonius, Caliban and all the Shakespearean fools. He has received the Los Angeles Weekly Award for Performance and three Los Angeles Drama-logue Awards for Performance. As a proud member of Actor’s Equity he has performed for The Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles, A Noise Within, Shakespeare Santa Barbara, Pensacola Shakespeare, and recently for the Prague Shakespeare Festival in the Czech Republic.
Professor Nehring earned his Master’s of Theatre degree at the University of Oregon. He is also certified to teach acting with the Meisner Technique and completed the Shakespeare and Company Intensive training. He has been teaching at Chapman University for thirty years, serving several terms as Theatre Department Chair. He was instrumental in developing Chapman’s BFA degree program in Theatrical Performance and has created classes for the BFA degree program in Screen Acting. He has served as an on-camera acting coach for The Disney Channel and has taught for California State University at Long Beach, The Portland Actor’s Conservatory, and at Portland Shakespeare Project for the last two summers.
Dr. Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, Scholar in Residence. Daniel is an English professor at Linfield College. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard, where he helped to edit the Norton edition of Shakespeare’s complete works. He has published and lectured widely on Shakespeare and British literature and is currently writing a book about Shakespeare adaptations. A Portland native, he also trained as an actor with Tygres Heart, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the Yale Shakespeare Company.
Sarah Lucht, Artistic Associate. Sarah has served on the faculty of the Portland Actors Conservatory since 1998, teaching Acting, Audition Technique, Breath and Energy for the Actor, Meisner, and Master Class weekend intensives.
She has also taught fundamentals of acting and a Shakespeare intensive for teens at Portland Center Stage, playwriting, scene study and audition technique in area high schools, as well as numerous weekend intensives, master classes and workshops focusing on breath work, advanced scene study, Meisner and ensemble building for actors of all levels of experience.
Sarah is also a private acting coach specializing in breath work and audition preparation, and is a faculty member The Haven Institute in British Columbia, leading workshops in acting and theatre arts to non-actors, to enhance personal and professional performance and experience.
Sarah is a member of Actors Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and has thirty years of experience as an actor in stage, film, television and voice-over work.