Who We Are

Michael Mendelson, Founding Artistic Director.

Michael is the Artistic Director of Portland Shakespeare Project and a Resident Artist at Artists Repertory Theatre.

Well known in Portland as an actor, director and teacher, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University and a Master of Fine Arts from University of Washington’s Professional Actors Training Program. While in New York City, he studied with Tanya Berezin. Michael directed The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and Lear’s Follies for Portland Shakespeare Project.

Other directing credits include The Importance of Being Earnest, The Understudy, Intimate Apparel; and both directed and starred in Mistakes Were Made for Artists Rep., Love’s Labour’s Lost (Northwest Classical Theatre Company), Stones In His Pockets (Public House Theatre), As Is (Key Productions), The Meaning of Prayer (Verbatim Productions), and staged readings of Botticelli (Profile Theatre) and Dinner With Friends (Mt. Hood Repertory Theatre).

His acting credits include Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night directed by Lisa Harrow (Portland Shakespeare Project), Iago in Othello directed by Bill Alexander, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Essex in Macbeth directed by Liz Huddle, also Jon in Marjorie Prime, Oliver in Trevor, and roles in The Skin of Our Teeth, Mothers and Sons, Tribes, Blithe Spirit, The Quality of Life, Alfred Lunt in Ten Chimneys, Andrei Borchevsky in Red Herring and Sherlock in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol, The Miracle Worker, God of Carnage, The Cherry Orchard, Superior Donuts, Othello, Design for Living, Holidazed, Becky’s New Car, Three Sisters, Eurydice, House, Garden, Orson’s Shadow, Mr. Marmalade, Theater District, and Love! Valour! Compassion!

Other local credits include work with Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Portland, Profile Theatre, Miracle Theatre, Northwest Classical Theatre Company, triangle productions!, Tygres Heart Shakespeare, Portland Center Stage, A Contemporary Theatre, Reader’s Theatre Repertory, Cygnet Theatre and New Rose Theatre. New York credits include Revolving Shakespeare Company, Theatre 1010, The Normal Heart (Lincoln Center/Clark Studio Theatre), Genesius Guild and The Barrow Group. Regional credits include work at PCPA Theaterfest, Paper Mill Playhouse, A Contemporary Theatre, Saint Michael’s Playhouse, Penobscot Theatre Company, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, First Stage Milwaukee, Idaho Rep, Attic Theater and Wisconsin, Utah and Berkeley Shakespeare Festivals.

Michael is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Karen Rathje

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.  

She has served on the Advisory Council of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance (“PATA”) and on the Board of Directors of Public House Theatre.

Lisa Harrow - Portland Shakespeare CompanyLisa 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

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

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.