Elena Araoz is a stage director of theater and opera as well as an actress. As a director, she works internationally, Off-Broadway and across the country.
Upcoming this season, Araoz will direct in New York City productions of Octavio Solís’ Prospect (Boundless Theatre Company), Dipika Guha’s Mechanics of Love, and she will devise with writer Virginia Grise and ensemble-based company Hook & Eye a new piece titled She-She-She (Ice Factory Festival, New Ohio Theatre). For the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha, she will direct Naomi Wallace’s The Retreating World. Also this season, the play she originally wrote and directed as a Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop titled Two Arms and a Noise, a physical theatre piece about the life of an indigenous Peruvian woman, will be presented in Romania at the Bucharest International Theatre Platform. For her creation of Two Arms and a Noise, the Latino Theatre Commons in 2015 named it one of "thirty-six [Latino] plays and writers that everyone should know.” The Drama League also recently named Araoz the inaugural Beatrice Terry Artist-In-Residence where she completed her play Plastic Drastic (an environmentally-aware music-theatre commedia adaptation of The Odyssey, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and Hansel and Gretel) which she also directed for Omaha’s Rose Theatre in February 2016.
Araoz recently directed the collaboratively-created Off-Broadway piece Architecture of Becoming by Kara Corthron, Sarah Gancher, Virginia Grise, Dipika Guha, Lauren Yee (Women’s Project at City Center). Other Off-Broadway productions include the American premieres of two Carl Djerassi plays, Phallacy, starring Simon Jones and Lisa Harrow, and Three on a Couch.
Internationally, she directed the world premiere of Li Tong Chen's The Power in Beijing, the first English-language play commercially produced in Beijing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Prague Shakespeare Festival in the Czech Republic, and the world premiere of Jaclyn Villano's Unanswered, We Ride for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland (which was also seen at 59E59 and Last Frontier Theatre Conference).
Other directing credits include Mac Wellman’s plays Wu World Woo and Horrocks and Toutatis too (Sleeping Weazel at ArtsEmerson) and Muazzez (Great Plains Theatre Conference), Natalia Naman’s Lawnpeople (Cherry Lane Mentor Project), Monika Bustamante’s Thirst: a spell for Christabel (HERE), The Price (Northern Stage), Naomi Wallace's The Fever Chart (Underground Railway Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream (SUNY and Geva Theatre Center), Don DeLillo's The Word for Snow with Kathleen Chalfont (CUNY), and Jaclyn Villano’s The Company We Keep (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre).
Opera credits include La traviata (New York City Opera at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House), Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera North), Falstaff with Sir Thomas Allen (Brooklyn Philharmonic at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House), and choreography for Latin Lovers arranged by Steven Blier (Glimmerglass Opera).
New play workshops include Tiny People by Christopher Oscar Peña (Two River Theatre), River of Gruel by Sibyl Kempson (New Dramatists), Megastasis by Kia Corthron (New York Theatre Workshop, Yale University, New Works Brooklyn), Madame Ho by Eugenie Chan (Great Plains Theatre Conference), Light Creatures by Jessica Almasy (Personal Space Theatrics), Obra Negra by Flavio González Mello and translated by Carmen Rivera (Lark Play Development Center’s Mexico/US Exchange), Good People by Maria Alexandria Beech with versions in both English and Spanish (Two River Theatre), and Hilary Bettis’ plays Ghosts of Lote Bravo (Lark Playwright’s Week, Repertorio Español), Dakota Atoll (New York Theatre Workshop), Mexico (Project Y), and Alligator (Great Plains Theatre Conference). This summer, she will direct Kara Lee Corthron’s Welcome to Fear City for Labyrinth Theater Company’s Barn Series.
As a director, Araoz is attracted to epic stories, and her productions are known for huge dance-like theatrics and acutely naturalistic acting. Her acclaimed operetta War Music, which she adapted with composer Paul Philips from Christopher Logue's retelling of the Iliad, and devised with six performers, stages the bloodiest scenes from the Trojan War. War Music, commissioned by performance ensemble Aurea for the FirstWorks Festival, was also presented by the New York Institute for the Humanities, Chicago Humanities Festival, the Chorus of Westerly, and toured New England. With New York’s St. Fortune Collective, she directed the site-specific theatrical event Wood Music, which toured through and around the historic Florence Mill in Omaha and turned the entire building into a musical instrument for the audience to play with the band nestled inside.
The New York Times has praised Araoz's productions as "striking," "primal," "wild," "stirring," and "refreshingly natural" and The Boston Globe as "riveting," "dreamy," and “vivid.” As her productions are critically acclaimed for superb acting, she regularly teaches acting at universities and young artist programs. In September 2016, she will join the faculty at Princeton University, teaching acting.
She has worked extensively with Sir Jonathan Miller, most recently as Choreographer and Associate Director for his La traviata at Vancouver Opera and has worked on his Broadway King Lear starring Christopher Plummer and multiple operas at Lincoln Center, Seattle Opera, BAM and Glimmerglass Opera. In 2015, she served as Associate Director with Sir Richard Eyre on Ghosts at BAM. She also served as Assistant Director to Steven Soderbergh on The Library at The Public Theatre and Darko Tresnjak on Antony and Cleopatra at Theatre for a New Audience.
New York acting credits include Amelia in House of Bernarda Alba (Pearl Theatre Company), Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream (American Globe), and Diana in All's Well That Ends Well (New York Classical Theatre). Regionally, Johnna in August: Osage County (Arden Theatre Company), Aouda in Around the World in 80 Days (Triad Stage), Lila Mahnaz in The Rant (InterAct Theatre) and multiple new play workshops at Geva Theatre Center and PlayPenn. Currently screening worldwide, she is featured in the award-winning green screen feature film Mars by Geoff Marslett.
Araoz is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, a Time Warner Foundation Fellow Alum of the Director’s Lab at Women’s Project Theatre (2012-2014), a New Georges’ Affiliated Artist and Audrey Resident, and a recipient of the Dr. David Farrar Opera Stage Director Grant. She holds her MFA in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin and is a proud member of SDC, AEA, AGMA, Canadian Actors' Equity and SAG-AFTRA (eligible).