La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions: Elena Araoz

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

6 Questions: Elena Araoz

Catherine Filloux's Kidnap Road opens this week at The First Floor Theatre at La MaMa. Director Elena Araoz answered our 6 Questions about the show, Ingrid Betancourt and working at La MaMa.  Don't miss Kidnap Road at La MaMa through May 14th, 2017.

1. How did you come to direct Kidnap Road?
I have long admired Catherine Filloux as both a person and a playwright, so I jumped at the chance to work with her when she reached out.  I also have a personal investment in stories about the Andes and the Amazon – as well as in stories about fiery female leaders.

2. Did you do research on Ingrid Betancourt for this project? 
While preparing for this project, I devoured as many interviews with Ms. Betancourt as I could find.  I was particularly interested in discerning who she was before her capture, and who she seemed to become afterwards.  She is a fascinating woman, and her life is full of many startling events that extend far beyond her 6-year imprisonment by the FARC.  It is amazing that one person's life can be so full.  The Kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt, a documentary by Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes, provided a particularly helpful window into Ms. Betancourt’s relationship with her family and her home country.  Their footage seems to capture both her courage and her fears.  I am also fascinated by the continued sharp polarization of Colombians’ opinions about Ms. Betancourt, and the conspiracy theories that still swirl around her.
Current events in Colombia and in the U.S. have also inadvertently provided a wealth of research for this play. The peace efforts still in process in Colombia after five decades of conflict and violence show how massive a task Ms. Betacourt was trying to achieve. In the meantime, the recent American presidential election has starkly illustrated the double standards and animosity that female leaders often contend with.  Why are male leaders – especially those who incite aggression and antagonize opponents – so often viewed with excitement, awe, or romantic ideas of a revolutionary spirit?  Why are female leaders, even those who do the same work in the same way, so often portrayed as reaching beyond their post?  How many men in one woman’s life can tell her how to behave?

3. In what way(s) do you think audiences in NYC can relate to this story? 
NYC is full of people coming from somewhere else with big dreams of doing something remarkable.  Dreams of being leaders and being loved; of making their mark and making a difference. In the Ingrid Betancourt of Kidnap Road – who may be quite distinct from the real life person – New Yorkers see a woman on a mission.  But we also see a woman who is not devoid of ego or ambition – and for all of us trying to carve out a place for ourselves in NYC, it is not difficult to relate to that drive that keeps us going in a city that can be so arduous to live in.
 Ms. Betancourt was fighting what seemed to be an impossible fight.  She was envisioning an impossible future.  I think many New Yorkers today are wondering how to do the same thing – how to change a national mood and a political system with which many of us are deeply unhappy.  How much can an individual accomplish?  How much ego or self-assurance does it take to stay in the fight?  

4. What was the last good book you read? 
I’ve had the great pleasure to read two great books back-to-back: Kia Corthron's novel The Castle Cross The Magnet Carter, and Kara Lee Corthron's young adult novel The Truth of Right Now.  By chance, these two remarkable sisters have published their debut novels within a year of each other.  Separately and together, these two books have made me more acutely question the atrocious history and the embarrassing present state of racial divide in this country.

5. Who inspires you? 
There are a number of artists who inspire me to work harder and smarter.  But lately, I have been especially reminded of my greatest directing mentor, Sir Jonathan Miller, and his conviction that in order to put real life onstage you need to be living a real life.  I am currently trying to invest not only in the make-believe of theatre but in my family, my community, the people around me, and the planet we all share – in living a fully engaged life. I truly believe that if I can observe the daily minutia of the changing citizenry and popular opinion in this country, then I can make more honest art.
I am inspired by my father for making it in this country as an immigrant, by my mother (who I swear is the hardest working woman on the planet), and by my husband, whose artistry continues to surprise me. 
And I am inspired by the women all around the country who are standing up and running for office.  Women have been ignited into action, and that gives me hope that change is coming.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 

I have always been impressed by the long lineage of amazing artists whose work has been developed and supported by LaMama.  I am honored to be showing work in the same building that has housed so many luminaries of experimental theatre.  LaMama is a place for risk takers, for those exploring form and content and politics in strange, invigorating ways.  This is the kind of art I most admire, and it has been a true joy to work and collaborate here.

La MaMa presents


Written by Catherine Filloux
Directed by Elena Araoz

April 27, 2017 - May 14, 2017Thursday - Saturday at 7:30pm; Sunday at 2pm

The First Floor Theatre 74A East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $20 Adults; $15 Students/Seniors

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE