Bridge Street Theatre’s “Leni” Examines the Life of Controversial Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl [Berkshire on Stage]

Olivia Howell as Leni, Roxanne Fay as Helene
Olivia Howell as Leni, Roxanne Fay as Helene

What happens to artists when they allow themselves – knowingly or unknowingly – to become cogs in a propaganda machine? This and other fascinating and complex moral and ethical issues are explored in the second production in Bridge Street Theatre’s five-play 2018 Subscription Series – Sarah Greenman’s Leni. Using the life of Hitler’s chosen filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl as a springboard, this searing examination of narcissism, denial and artistic responsibility will be presented on the Catskill theater’s intimate Mainstage on Thursdays-Sundays from May 17-27.

In a limbo resembling a semi-abandoned soundstage, Helene (the aged Leni Riefenstahl) hovers in a dream somewhere between life and death. There, she encounters Leni (her youthful self) and is forced to confront the moral implications of the works she created and the ways in which those works helped to empower a fascist regime. Was she complicit or merely an artist attempting to create the finest films of which she was capable, blinding herself to their implications and to the evils of the party that engineered their creation? Together, the two Lenis (who are really one) attempt to create one final film that will justify both their work and their life. To what extent are we responsible for decisions we make as younger people without the knowledge of hindsight? And to what extent does the world have the right to pass judgement on us for those decisions? Leni asks these questions in a stimulating, entertaining and thought-provoking fashion, certain to inspire hours of discussion and debate.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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