LENI by Sarah Greenman

German Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl is dead, but she is not ready to lie down. Her 1934 film, “Triumph of the Will” supplied the Third Reich with a valiant, embattled epic. Fascism was mythic politics and Riefenstahl became its myth-maker. She was a child of the century and embodies some of its most troubling contradictions. As Greenman’s play opens, we meet two Leni Riefenstahls, one in the passionate prime of her youth and the other looking back, editing and tinkering away at the events of her life. Together they are making a film; a biography that will reveal the truth about her work, her art, and her politics. The only problem is they can’t agree on the story line. Sarah Greenman’s play journeys deep inside the mind and media of Leni Riefenstahl to discover why art can be a dangerous business.


"[Leni] offers a debate between ages, eras and motivations...outstanding." - Huffington Post 2017

"...virtuoso...fierce...moments of chilling topicality" - EDGE 2017

"a cunningly crafted look at the life and passions of the woman who created what has been called "the greatest propaganda film of all time." - Talkin' Broadway 2017\

"a powerful two-person high-wire act" - Berkeleyside

“Leni offers a chilling and intimate look at the artist and of Nazi mythology, as seen through a postmodern lens” - San Jose Mercury News 2017

“a riveting multi-media drama...[filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl is] portrayed to perfection” - San Francisco Examiner 2017

"Aurora Theatre Company stages a LENI that is fascinating, thought-provoking, and brimming with its own claim of being high art." - Theater Eddys 2017

“Imagine a play so well conceived, staged, and performed, you’d ask to see it again as soon as the curtain call ends. Now consider a historical personality so much larger than life that to fully flesh her out requires two performers. That’s “Leni”, a thought-provoking tour through the world of Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl. Greenman demonstrates masterful confidence as her text darts from one decade to the next and one Leni to another. It shouldn’t work, but it does, to stunning effect.” – Kevin Phinny, Seattle Weekly 2007

“An intellectually bracing, passionately acted production!  Though Sarah Greenman's drama is a dozen years old and considers events that began more than 80 years ago, it has immediate contemporary urgency and relevance.”  – Steve Barnes, Times Union 2018

 “A dynamic realization of Riefenstahl lost within her own special world. The playwright's concept is a delicate matter which works brilliantly. This is a thought-provoking, intriguing work with excellent talent on hand to bring it to life. The chance to see it should be embraced by anyone who loves good theater.”  – J. Peter Bergman, Berkshire Bright Focus 2017

“In Sarah Greenman’s remarkably thoughtful new play, she grants Riefenstahl afterlife license (although she died in 2003 at age 101), to note that her supposed “fascist Aesthetic” created the modern world. Her work is despised, she observes, because it is too good. That rule might put this extraordinary work and brilliant set of performances at risk, too, but I loved every conflicted moment.” – Gianni Truzzi, Seattle Post Intelligencer 2006

“Playwright Sarah Greenman and director Jon Tracy have done remarkable work here, creating a theatrical experience rife with drama and political and emotional tension.”  – Richard Connema, Talkin’ Broadway 2017

“Sarah Greenman makes her tremendous playwrighting debut with this thoughtful, provocative, and thoroughly enjoyable examination of the many faces of history’s most infamous filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl.” – Ben Waterhouse, The Willamette Weekly 2006

“Sarah Greenman’s “Leni” offers a chilling and intimate look at the artist and of Nazi mythology, as seen through a postmodern lens.” – Karen D’Souza, Mercury News 2017

“This thought-provoking piece takes us on a fictional journey into the soul of one of the most controversial of 20th Century filmmakers, Leni Riefenstahl. To exemplify Riefenstahl’s overpowering idealism, artfully integrated clips from “Triumph of the Will” and “Olympia” are projected on a screen behind the actors. In the end we may be repulsed by the substance of her vision, but we must still acknowledge the potential we have for being similarly intoxicated by exaggerated dreams.” – Richard Wattenberg, The Oregonian 2006


2018    Bridge Street Theatre                                                 Catskill, New York

2017    Aurora Theatre Co.                                                     Berkeley, California

2012    Southern Methodist University                 Dallas, Texas

2011    Ithaca College                                              Ithaca, New York

2009    Strawberry Theater Workshop                                   Seattle, Washington

2007    New York Fringe Festival                                            New York, New York

2006    Insight Out Theatre Collective                                    Portland, Oregon

2006    Mae West Fest                                                           Seattle, Washington

2004    Mills College Theater                                                  Oakland, California

2002    PCPA Theaterfest, Interplay                                        Santa Maria, California


Selection, Best of the Fest, New York Fringe Festival, 2007

Winner, Gertrude Hung Chan Playwrighting Prize, Mills College, 2004