Risa Brainin

Risa Brainin headshot
Founder / Artistic Director


Risa Brainin is a freelance director, professor and Founder/Artistic Director of LAUNCH PAD which has been featured in American Theatre magazine for its innovation and contribution to new play development. Since 2005, Brainin has developed and directed 20+ new works by distinguished writers including recent plays by Jami Brandli, Mia Chung, Yussef El Guindi, Anne Garcia-Romero, Idris Goodwin, Enid Graham, Arlene Hutton, Jenny Mercein, Joyce Carol Oates, James Still and Cheryl L. West. She pioneered, along with Annie Torsiglieri, the groundbreaking Zoom Festival Alone, Together, a collection of 39 new short plays and monologues written by LAUNCH PAD alums and now published by Dramatic Publishing Company.

Prior to UCSB, Brainin served as Artistic Director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Associate Artistic Director for both Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Indiana Repertory Theatre, and Resident Director at the Guthrie Theater. Other directorial credits include plays at American Players Theatre, Actors' Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Clarence Brown Theatre, Commonweal Theatre, Denver Center Theatre, Elements Theatre Collective, Ensemble Theatre, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, History Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Illusion Theatre, Kansas City Actors' Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Mixed Blood, New Harmony Project, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Portland Stage Company, Red Bull Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, Skylight Theatre, Syracuse Stage and TheatreSquared.

A graduate of the Carnegie-Mellon University Drama Program, Brainin is Past President of the National Theatre Conference and was recently inducted into The College of Fellows of the American Theatre for “truly distinguished contribution to theatre in the U.S.”

For more about our Artistic Director please visit her website.