Elena Araoz is a stage director of theater, opera, and virtual performance, working internationally, Off-Broadway, and across the country. Elena has been named Producing Artistic Director of Princeton University’s Theater and Music Theater Season, to begin in fall 2021. She is also an actor and writer.
Upcoming, Elena will direct the premiere of the virtual CGI opera A Survivor’s Odyssey by composer Mary Prescott and librettist Cerise Jacobs (White Snake Projects), the opera I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams (which will next perform with Resonance Works Pittsburgh after its acclaimed premiere with White Snake Projects), and the commercial run of the new musical Havana Music Hall (Richard Kagan). Her virtual production of the musical Sugar Skull! (Mexico Beyond Mariachi) will once again replace its 30-city national tour. Currently playing is her recent direction of Marisela Treviño Orta’s new audio drama Nightfall (Audible).
During the pandemic, Elena has been on the frontier of virtual live theatre, having conceived and directed the interactive website experience The Manic Monologues(McCarter Theatre Center) which was nominated for a 2021 Drama League Award. She also directed the acclaimed premiere of Alice in the Pandemic (White Snake Projects), which was the first virtual opera to live sync singers from remote locations, blended with CGI and facial motion capture. Her 2020 virtual production of Virginia Grise’s a farm for meme was dubbed by The New York Times as “form-busting” for its unique combination of “box puppets, shadow play, live film and archival footage into a gorgeous mise-en-scène that feels theatrical in its purposefully homemade aesthetic.” As a faculty member at Princeton University, she founded and leads the research project Innovations in Socially Distant Performance which studies the aesthetics, philosophies, tools, and artists who are transforming the fields of virtual live performance and socially distant productions. The project is being archived by the Library of Congress.
Elena’s opera credits include the La traviata (New York City Opera at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House), Falstaff (Brooklyn Philharmonic at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House), and choreography for Latin Lovers (Glimmerglass Opera). She most recently stage directed the virtual North American premiere of the Spanish baroque zarzuela Apolo y Dafne (Sonnambula ensemble).
Other NYC theatrical productions include the Off-Broadway world premiere of Adam Seidel’s Original Sound (Cherry Lane Theatre), Mac Wellman’s A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds (New York Theatre Workshop Next Door), Migdalia Cruz’s Fur (New York Theatre Workshop Next Door), Catherine Filloux’s Kidnap Road (La Mama), Warren Leight’s Union Square Incident for The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway (American Airlines Theatre), and theatrical events for Anna Deavere Smith and the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, PEN America, and The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Regionally, Elena most recently directed The Migration Plays by Mfoniso Udofia, Martyna Majok, Heather Raffo, Adam Gwon, and Karen Zacarias (McCarter Theatre Center), Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Festival St, Louis), In Between (Walnut Street Theatre), Sweat (People’s Light), and the theatre/orchestra collaboration Azaan(Oregon Symphony).
Two Arms and a Noise, which she last directed for the Bucharest International Theatre Platform in Romania, is a physical theatre piece about the life of an indigenous Peruvian woman which she originally wrote and directed as a New York Theatre Workshop fellow and which was recognized on the Latino Theatre Commons’ list "plays and writers that everyone should know.” Internationally, she also directed the world premiere of Li Tong Chen's The Power in Beijing, the first English-language play commercially produced in Beijing, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Prague Shakespeare Festival in the Czech Republic.
As a director, Elena is attracted to epic stories, and her productions are known for huge dance-like theatrics and acutely naturalistic acting.The New York Times has praised Araoz's productions as "striking," "primal," "wild," "stirring," and "refreshingly natural," The Boston Globe as "riveting," "dreamy," and “vivid,” and The New Yorker as “refreshing.” Time Out New York mentions, “Elena Araoz is a director with deep wells of imagination; she seems drawn to magical realist work.”
She worked extensively with the late Sir Jonathan Miller, most recently as Choreographer and Associate Director for his La traviata at Vancouver Opera and worked on his Broadway King Lear starring Christopher Plummer and multiple operas at Lincoln Center, Seattle Opera, BAM and Glimmerglass Opera. 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.
Elena appeared this season as a guest star on NBC’s New Amsterdam. She holds her MFA in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin.