La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions: Elia K. Schneider

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

6 Questions: Elia K. Schneider

Elia K. Scheider

Director/Writer and Teatro Dramma founder Elia K. Schneider's production, Judgment on a Gray Beach, will run at The Ellen Stewart Theatre March 6th - 15th. Elia is known for hauntingly visual productions that transcend language with strong imagery and a dreamlike fresco of movement and design. Partially inspired by the work of Franz Kafka, her new production explores themes of exile and totalitarianism.

1. Why are you drawn to Kafka as a point of inspiration?
He was a visionary capable of observing the inner worlds of human beings and he understood how those inner world effect their actions. He wasn’t afraid to enter the obscure and deep labyrinths which are inside people. He understood their flaws and never judged them. I share these truths in my everyday life. They are, to me, unquestionable truths.

2. How has directing and producing films influenced your work in theatre?
For me theatre is the experience of searching for the truth and turning it into something beautiful that is expressed so other's can share the experience of that truth. This concept has influenced my life and my ideas about cinema. In a movie, what I’m most interested in is having the freedom to create it and in that freedom finding the permission to express myself. But in filmmaking this is, largely, not the reality of the process. That is why it is not understood why I do it.

3. What has been the most challenging aspect of developing this show?
To draw with passion on a page that starts blank, and to not lose that passion in spite of the obstacles which inevitably arise. To allow these drawings, the scenes, to have a structure that expresses the needs of a specific author and his characters in a world chained by fear and the power that creates that fear. On the Gray Beach [where the show takes place] it doesn’t matter who makes the laws or who enforces them, they simply must be obeyed. All the characters on this beach do not talk, they do not communicate, question anything or reveal what they feel. They are like robots, used to a kind of living death, but sometimes they do feel things and wonder about the possibility of exiting their world. They do not know that exit is impossible.

4. Do you find your work is received differently in different countries? 
An artistic world always has various parts. One is its center, its essence. Feelings like fury, hopelessness, solitude, desire and passion, are the same for any human being. Another part is context, for example if I present a play in Venezuela, where the government is authoritative and where human rights are routinely breached, this play will be much more powerful than in Sweden where there is a less autocratic government and more freedom of speech.

5. What do you hope the audience comes away with?
I have no hope for the spectator. I don’t want to give them a lesson or “give them a message.” Some people will be engaged and share fully in the moments of the play, others will try to sneak out in the middle. Either way, the play is alive on the set and in the theatre. People will be connecting and disconnecting at various moments, just like in life. For me that is important to reflect on.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
Ellen Stewart, who I will always consider my mentor, was one of the most influential people in my life - she influenced my vision of the world. For me to keep bringing my work to La MaMa and her stage is both an honor and a way to say thank you.

La MaMa presents
Teatro Dramma's


on a 
Gray Beach

written and directed by Elia K. Schneider

March 6 through March 15, 2015 

The Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; ten tickets priced at $10 each are available, in advance only, as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing initiative. 10@$10 tickets are available via web, phone or at the box office, in advance only, and are not available day-of-show. 

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE

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