Lola Arias (Argentina, 1976) is a writer, theatre and film director. She is a multifaceted artist whose work brings together people from different backgrounds (war veterans, former communists, migrant children, etc.) in theatre, film, literature, music and visual art projects.
Arias’ productions play with the overlap between reality and fiction. “Sitting in the theatre, wandering a site-specific location or watching a film, we are inculcated into others’ narratives, wound into their complexities, joys and disappointments. At the same time, we are also invited and at times confronted, in an extraordinary and acute way, to reflect on the contingencies and fragilities of our own stories, individual and collective, as well as on our shifting, unresolved relation to the precarious and dangerous machinery that is social and political history.” (Etchells, in Re-enacting Life, 2019).
Arias studied Literature at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and Dramaturgy at the Escuela de Artes Dramáticas (Buenos Aires), the Royal Court Theatre (London) and Casa de América (Madrid). In 2014 she completed the Film Laboratory Programme at the Universidad Di Tella (Buenos Aires), one of the most prestigious cinema programmes in Argentina.
Between 2001 and 2007 she wrote and directed six fictional pieces The Squalid Family, Studies of Loving Memory, Poses for Sleeping and the trilogy Love is a Sniper, Revolver Dream and Striptease.
Since 2007 she has worked in the field of documentary theatre, creating over twelve plays in collaboration with people who have lived through different events or historical experiences. People who have, one way or another, survived.
My Life After (CTBA, Buenos Aires, 2009) is based on the biography of six performers who re-enact their parents’ lives during the dictatorship in Argentina. Familienbande (Münchner Kammerspiele, Munich, 2009) deals with role models in a contemporary family with three parents. That Enemy Within (HAU, Berlin, 2010) is a project about identity made in collaboration with two identical twins. The Year I was Born (Teatro a Mil, Santiago, 2012) is based on biographies of people born during Pinochet’s dictatorship. Melancholy and Demonstrations (Wiener Festwochen, Vienna, 2012) is a play about her mother’s depression. The Art of Making Money (Stadttheater Bremen, 2013) takes a concept from The Threepenny Opera by Brecht for a play performed by beggars, prostitutes and street musicians from the city of Bremen. And The Art of Arriving (Stadttheater Bremen, 2015) uses the example of Bulgarian kids living in Germany to develop a scenic tutorial that reflects on how to start a new life in another country.
Her most recent plays are Minefield (Royal Court Theatre, London, 2016), which brings together British and Argentinian veterans of the Falklands/Malvinas War to share their experience of the conflict and life since then, Atlas des Kommunismus (Maxim-Gorki Theatre, Berlin, 2016), which gathers stories of women between the ages of 8 and 84 with backgrounds in the GDR, What they want to hear (Münchner Kammerspiele, Munich, 2018), the reconstruction of the real case of a Syrian archaeologist trapped in German bureaucracy without any legal status for four years, and Futureland (Maxim-Gorki Theatre, Berlin, 2019), a science-fiction documentary piece with unaccompanied minors, teenagers who escaped from war, poverty and violence and travelled to Germany on their own.
Lola began her film career with the video installation Veterans (Battersea Art Centre, London, 2014), the starting point of her multi-disciplinary art project about the Falklands/Malvinas War. In this series, veterans reconstruct their experience of the war in a space they inhabit in the present day.
Her first feature film Theatre of War (2018) was selected for the 68th Forum of the Berlinale Film Festival and received several prizes including the CICAE Art Cinema Award, the International Confederation of Art House Cinemas Award and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. Arias also won the Best Director Award at the 20th BAFICI Festival in Buenos Aires and the film received the Movistar+ Prize for Best Documentary Film at Documenta Madrid and the Silver Condor Award for Best Adapted Script.
Arias is currently working on her next film Reas [working title], supported by IDFA Bertha Fund and selected for the Pitching du Réel at the Visions du Réel Festival, which brings together the stories of women and trans people in Ezeiza Prison, Buenos Aires, reinventing the musical genre in documentary form, mixing scenes and stories from the inmates’ real lives with music and choreographies.
In the visual arts and curating field, she developed My Documents (Buenos Aires, 2012-2017; Milan, 2018; Lisboa, 2020), a lecture-performance cycle where artists from different backgrounds present personal research, a radical experience, a story that secretly obsessed them. She also conceived the durational performance Audition for a Demonstration (Berlin, 2014; Athens, 2015; Prague, 2015; Buenos Aires, 2017; Berlin, 2019); she created the exhibitions Stunt Double (Buenos Aires, 2016), in which four different installations rebuilt the last 40 years of Argentinian social and political history through documents, reenactments, interviews and popular songs; and Ways of walking with a book in your hand (Buenos Aires, 2017), a site-specific project for readers in libraries and public spaces.
With Ulises Conti she released the albums Love is a sniper (2007) and Those who do not sleep (2011), and with Stefan Kaegi she developed the projects Chácara Paraíso (2007), Airport Kids (2008) and Ciudades Paralelas (2010), a festival of urban interventions in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Warsaw, Zurich and other cities.
She has published poetry, fiction and plays: Love is a sniper (2007, Entropía), The postnuclear ones (2011, Emecé), My Life After and other plays (2016, Penguin Random House) and a bilingual edition of her play Minefield (2017, Oberon Books). In 2019, Performance Research Studies published Re-enacting Life, a book that gathers articles, screenplays and documents from her whole career.
Lola Arias has received very prestigious prizes for her works, including the Premio Konex 2014 and the Preis der Autoren 2018, and her work has been performed at festivals including: Lift Festival, London; Under the Radar, New York; Festival d’Avignon; Theater Spektakel, Zurich; Wiener Festwochen; Festival Theaterformen, Brunswick/Hanover; Spielart Festival, Munich; and Berlinale; as well as at venues including Théâtre de la Ville, Paris; REDCAT, Los Angeles; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; Parque de la Memoria, Buenos Aires; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and Royal Court Theatre, London.
OPENING / Edition