Alisa Palmer

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Alisa Palmer is an Award-winning Canadian director, playwright, theatre producer, and dramaturge. She has won multiple awards and has premiered and toured original and provocative theatre creations for over twenty years.

Alisa Palmer

Life and Career (Biography)

Alisa Palmer was born in New Brunswick, Canada, and graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, with a degree in history. She became the Artistic Director of Nightwood Theatre in 1994 until 2001, and directed the development and premieres of many new Canadian plays including: Random Acts, by Diane Flacks, Smudge by Alex Bulmer, and the musical Anything that Moves ( Tarragon Theatre 2001), book by  Ann-Marie MacDonald. Anything that Moves won multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Script, Direction, Music Direction and Production. She also contributed to the collective creation of The Attic,the Pearls & Three Fine Girls with Martha Ross,  Ann-Marie MacDonald, Jennifer Brewer, and Leah Cherniak ( Buddies in Bad Times 1995;  Manitoba Theatre Centre 1999;  Theatre New Brunswick 2001).

In the past twenty-years she has directed at theatre companies across the country, including Tarragon, Soulpepper theatres in Toronto, and Alberta Theatre Projects in Calgary. She was the resident director of the Mirvish Productions of the Lord of the Rings in Toronto and is the founder of Vita Brevis, a company that is dedicated to new conceptions and training projects involving partnerships with other theatre companies.

Alisa Palmer has directed extensively in Toronto theatres, including a workshop presentation of Caryl Churchill's The Skriker for Nightwood Theatre at the  duMaurier World Stage Festival, Churchill's Top Girls for  Soulpepper Theatre Company (2007), Churchill's Cloud Nine at the Panasonic Theatre (2010), and  Hannah Moscovitch's East of Berlin at Tarragon Theatre (2007). She has also directed at Canadian Stage, Alberta Theatre Projects, Theatre New Brunswick and the Shaw Festival. For the Stratford Festival 2013/14 season, she directed Hay Fever at the Avon Theatre.

She currently lives in Toronto with her spouse, actor and novelist Ann-Marie MacDonald and their two daughters. She is also currently the artistic director of the English section at the National Theatre School of Canada, in Montreal, Quebec.


Palmer's work can be characterized by vivid performances with bold uses of music, powerful visuals and a strong commitment to the body politic. Here are just some of the many works she has done over her career:

  • Random Acts
  • Smudge 
  • Anything that Moves 
  • The Attic,the Pearls & Three Fine Girls
  • Lord of the Rings
  • The Skriker 
  • Cloud Nine 
  • Bitch
  • East of Berlin 
  • Hay Fever 


She is the recipient of two Chalmers Awards, including one for A Play About The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo.
She won the Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Directing Anything that Moves
In 2004, 2007 and 2010 she was short-listed for the  Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.






Name:Alisa Palmer