Jelena’s a freelance director committed to making innovative, inclusive theatre – drama that starts important conversations, and reflects the world we live in. With producer, Sanna-Karina Aab, she’s the founder of All Ignite Theatre. In 2018, the company’s first production, White Guy on the Bus by Bruce Graham, gained 4 Offie nominations - Best Director, Best New Play, and Best Male and Female Performance. This excoriating exploration of race and inequality in the US, was critically-acclaimed, “…a play that is as relevant as it is ruthless…” Spy in the Stalls ★★★★★.
In 2019, All Ignite returned to London’s Finborough Theatre with Beast on the Moon by Richard Kalinoski, a moving exploration of the impact of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. “…a powerful and timely tale that speaks to a modern audience…” Evening Standard ★★★★. “…thought-provoking, disturbing, shocking and rewarding…” Close up culture ★★★★.
Before going freelance again, Jelena was Associate Director at Chickenshed Theatre. She directed many shows at this leading inclusive company including Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy adapted by Lemn Sissay, Sarah Daniels’ Gut Girls, The Comedy of Errors, Dario Fo’s Can't Pay! Won't Pay!, Lysistrata, Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, Yard Gal by Rebecca Prichard and Ariel Dorfmen’s Widows. At Chickenshed, she developed the studio theatre, and headed up the company’s emerging writers’ programme Write Here, Write Now.
Jelena has led projects for Clean Break, Hampstead Theatre, Cardboard Citizens, Soho Theatre, and she produced and directed a knife-crime drama Life After Death by Antuneil Thompson, at Camden People’s Theatre. She has also written and directed extensively for young people and children.
Jelena’s professional practice is based firmly on her belief that theatre is for everyone, and has the power to change us. She’s dedicated to making high-quality theatre, that’s accessible and entertaining.