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Picture of Elena Araoz

Founding Member
Advisory Circle




Elena Araoz  is a stage director of theater, opera, multi-media performance, and theatrical large-scale immersive events, working internationally, Off-Broadway, and across the country. 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 “form-busting and gorgeous,” “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.” Elena also serves as the Producing Artistic Director of Princeton University’s Theater and Music Theater Season. As a founding member of The Sol Project, she is also an Obie winner.

In October 2023, The Dallas Opera released her 3D Immersive audio-only production of "No One Is Forgotten: An Immersive Opera." The opera is composed by Paola Prestini and Sxip Shirey, based on the play by Winter Miller. Elena served as director and immersive designer of the opera in a never before created method. This fall also marks the fifth annual 30-city national tour of her musical production of "Sugar Skull."

Upcoming, Elena will direct the commercial run of the new musical "Havana Music Hall" as an immersive experience inside the new Miami club by the same name. She will direct "When Light Bends," a play with a song cycle and slight-of-hand magic inspired by the 2024 solar eclipse, produced by Media Art Xploration (MAX) in conjunction with performing arts centers and science centers within the eclipse’s path of totality. She will also direct Catherine Filloux’s "How to Eat an Orange" at La Mama, as well as the 2023 production for Second Stage Theatre’s annual gala headlined by Sarah Paulson. In 2022, Elena directed Second Stage’s gala production headlined by Brian Stokes Mitchell, which became Second Stage’s largest earning gala to date.

Most recent projects include Elena’s critically acclaimed bilingual new production of "Espejos: Clean" by Christina Quintana at Studio Theatre in D.C. Also, Senator Bill Bradley’s documentary film "Rolling Along," produced by Spike Lee, premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival, on which Elena served as Artistic Consultant after having served as Dramaturg for the Senator’s stage production. Elena also directed the development process of Melinda Lopez’s new play "Power Trio" at The Huntington Theatre in Boston.

Elena’s opera credits include Florida Grand Opera’s "El matrimonio secreto" (a new Spanish translation of the Cimarosa opera), "La traviata" (New York City Opera at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House), "Lucia di Lammermoor" (Opera North), "Falstaff" (Brooklyn Philharmonic at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House), and choreography for "Latin Lovers" (Glimmerglass Opera). 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 Trojan War. "War Music," commissioned by Aurea ensemble for the FirstWorksFestival in Providence, RI, was also presented by the New York Institute for the Humanities and the Skirball Center, Chicago Humanities Festival, the Chorus of Westerly, and toured New England.

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), María Irene Fornés’ "Mud" and "Conduct of Life" (Boundless Theatre Company), Migdalia Cruz’s "Fur" (New York Theatre Workshop Next Door), Catherine Filloux’s "Kidnap Road" (La Mama), Amalia Oliva Rojas’ "How to Melt Ice" (Nominated for Outstanding Production HOLA Award, Boundless Theatre Company and New Perspectives Theatre), Octavio Solis’s "Prospect" (Boundless Theatre Company), 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 Nilo Cruz’s "Anna in the Tropics" (Barrington Stage, BroadwayWorld Berkshires Award for Best Play, among other awards), "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 and international tour), "Sweat" (People’s Light), and the theatre/orchestra collaboration "Azaan" by Dipika Guha and Christopher Rogerson (Oregon Symphony). 

"Two Arms and a Noise," which Elena wrote and 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 created as a New York Theatre Workshop fellow and which was recognized on the Latinx Theatre Commons’ list of "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.

With New York’s St. Fortune Collective, she directed the site-specific immersive "Wood Music," which invited audiences to explore the theatrical event within and around the historic Florence Mill in Omaha and turned the entire building into a musical instrument for the audience to play, all in tune with the rock band nestled inside.

During the pandemic, Elena was on the frontier of virtual live theatre, having conceived and directed the interactive and theatrical website experience "The Manic Monologues" (McCarter Theatre Center) which was nominated for a 2021 Drama League Award and was honored as the Gold Award Winner for the 2021-2022 NASPA Excellence Award. She also directed the acclaimed premieres of "Alice in the Pandemic" and "A Survivor’s Odyssey" (White Snake Projects), which were the first virtual operas to live sync singers from remote locations, blended with CGI and facial motion capture. "A Survivor’s Odyssey" was remounted as a highlighted presentation for Opera America’s 2022 conference.

Elena’s 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.

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 holds her MFA in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin and recently appeared as a guest star on NBC’s New Amsterdam.

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