Brave New World Rep To Present the World Premiere Award-Winning Play, LENI'S LAST LAMENT

The new play that took top honors at the one-night-only presentation at United Solo Festival in March 2023.

By: Feb. 20, 2024
Brave New World Rep To Present the World Premiere Award-Winning Play, LENI'S LAST LAMENT
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Brooklyn's acclaimed Brave New World Repertory Theatre has announced the world premiere of Leni's Last Lament, a new play that took top honors at the one-night-only presentation at United Solo Festival in March 2023.

BNW Rep reunites the three award winners for its production of Leni's Last Lament at The invisible Dog Art Center in Boerum Hill for a three-week run, March 15-30. The work of playwright Gil Kofman will be performed by OBIE Award winner Jodie Markell as Leni with Richard Caliban bringing his award-winning direction to BNW's production. (Ticket information below.)

In Leni's Last Lament, Hitler's controversial filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, poses as a misunderstood victim as she attempts to edit and reassemble her notorious past. Set in Leni's editing room in bardo/purgatory and presented as a macabre, comic cabaret with a live accordionist, the play is a wild ironic ride full of hard-to-believe insights into this provocative figure as she attempts to reassemble her life to create a more palatable portrait.

Riefenstahl is a controversial subject, says BNW Rep founder/Producing Artistic Director Claire Beckman. “She can be considered the original influencer whose brilliantly manipulative propaganda films made Hitler into the ‘savior' the German people believed they needed after years of economic turmoil. Leni's films promised them a leader who would make Germany great again, in ways that feel hauntingly familiar. She was a woman of contradictions. She aligned herself with Hitler for fame, was blacklisted for the alliance, yet also recognized as a genius by the film community throughout her long life.”

Beckman notes that the production is set to coincide with the March observance of Women's History Month where she says the tendency is to avoid telling stories about women who are complicated and controversial. “Women won't be truly equal until we can see them for all their complexities, and in the 1930's women with Leni's talent and ambition had very few opportunities. Those with true genius, especially if they were also very beautiful, were discounted. Leni's genius and ambition drove her to make the absolute worst choice in a collaborator, and Leni's Last Lament is both biting and hilarious in its telling of her fascinating story.”

In Kofman's appraisal of Riefenstahl, he says, “Some say that without Leni there'd be no Hitler; others say that without Leni there'd be no Star Wars. A controversial filmmaker who directed Triumph of the Will for Hitler at his 1934 Nuremberg Rally, Leni Riefenstahl's work is often credited with creating the Nazi brand and promoting its aesthetic. Despite that, her work is considered groundbreaking and innovative, and is still studied at film schools today.”

Says director Richard Caliban, “Gil's script and Jodie's performance have created a multi-layered Leni who is absurdly comic, tragic — and yet human.”

Brave New World Repertory Theatre

Brave New World Repertory Theatre (BNW Rep) - a Brooklyn-based, 501c3 not-for-profit company, reaches under-served audiences to promote a love of theatre, with re-imagined classics and brave new works that reflect the diverse community. BNW's free-to-low-cost programs range from intimate readings to large outdoor productions that cast unique and historic Brooklyn venues in a leading role. The company seeks to tell stories that celebrate life and explore social justice; stories that make us laugh, feel deeply, and find common ground. For the past 20 years, BNW Rep has carved out a site-specific niche presenting re-envisioned classics and works by Brooklyn playwrights. Recent productions include two by Arthur Miller: the acclaimed 2023 American premiere of his never-produced-screenplay The Hook, adapted for the stage by Ron Hutchinson, and A View From the Bridge in 2019 and 2018 both at the Waterfront Barge Museum in Red Hook. Other notable productions include The Plantation, Claire Beckman's bold adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, a post-Civil War story set after emancipation but before the onset of Jim Crow. This immersive production was performed in The Commanding Officer's House on Governors Island, in 2017. Elmer Rice's Street Scene, performed for free, and named #23 of top 25 Stage Plays of 2013 by L Magazine, closed off a street in Park Slope, using a tenement building and adjacent street as the stage. BNW Rep earned its reputation for delivering unexpectedly immersive works to communities all around Brooklyn, beginning with a now legendary 2005 production of To Kill a Mockingbird, presented on six front porches and sidewalks of a tree lined Ditmas Park street.

Playwright:

Gil Kofman was born in Nigeria and raised in Kenya, Israel, and NYC. He received an M.F.A. in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. His play American Magic, a dark political satire, was produced in NY, LA, and London with music by Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth and Richard Foreman playing the part of the President. It was later published by Broadway Play Publishing along with two other plays, Interview and Pharmacopeia. His film, The Memory Thief, won the Feature Award at the Edmonton Int'l Film Festival and played on the Sundance Channel. He later directed a thriller in mainland China, called, Case Sensitive, which was developed at the Sundance Producer's Lab and got a wide release in China, and played on HBO Asia. His other film Lost in the White City played at the Black Nights FIlm Festival and in other places around the world. His novel aKa came out this March in Berlin - here. His next play Dickhead will premiere this October at Theatre for the New City, also directed by Richard Caliban.

Director:

Richard Caliban has worked as a playwright, director and composer across the country and internationally. He was Artistic Director of critically acclaimed, award-winning Cucaracha Theatre (“The most exciting experimental theater company in New York.” — NY Times) where he wrote and directed many of his plays, including productions at The Public Theatre and The Vineyard Theatre. His play Rodents & Radios was on Mel Gussow's (NY Times) Top 10 Plays of the year list. Caliban's MoM - A Rock Concert Musical won “Outstanding Musical” at the NY Fringe Festival and continued with runs at the Actor's Playhouse, Geva Theatre and many other venues. He is also known for directing the celebrated Obie and Outer Critics Circle award-winning production of Mac Wellman's Crowbar at the Victory Theater. Caliban directed Lost Shanghai, which he co-wrote with Grammy nominated composer Angel Lam, at Merkin Hall. His work has also been seen at Primary Stages, Playwrights Horizons, Theatre Row, The Cherry Lane, Ensemble Studio Theatre, La Mama, HERE, Joyce Theatre, Naked Angels, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theater, Berkshire Theatre Festival, the R.S.9 Theatre in Budapest, Hungary; and the Ilkhom Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Richard recently joined BNW Rep.

Cast:

Jodie Markell (Leni Riefenstahl) received an OBIE award for her performance in MACHINALl directed by Michael Greif at Joseph Papp's Public Theater. Other New York theater includes: David Marshall Grant's SNAKEBIT; David Lindsay-Abaire's KIMBERLY AKIMBO - Manhattan Theatre Club; BALM IN GILEAD directed by John Malkovich - Circle Rep; ITALIAN AMERICAN RECONCILIATION directed by John Patrick Shanley - Manhattan Theatre Club; ROAD and UBU at Lincoln Center; Will Scheffer's EASTER and Odet's CLASH BY NIGHT both directed by Richard Caliban at Naked Angels (company member). She also played Karla Faye Tucker in Steve Earle's KARLA. Regional theater includes: Tom Waits' FRANK'S WILD YEARS - Steppenwolf Theater; STREET SCENE - Williamstown; SCENES FROM AN EXECUTION - Mark Taper Forum; Theresa Rebeck's SPIKE HEELS - NY Stage and Film. Film includes: Woody Allen's HOLLYWOOD ENDING; Todd Haynes SAFE; Jim Jarmusch's MYSTERY TRAIN and THE DEAD DON'T DIE; Barry Levinson's Jimmy Hollywood. Other features include : TRAPPED; QUEEN'S LOGIC; SWEET LAND; and Ira Sach's KEEP THE LIGHTS ON. TV includes: Law and Order; SVU; The Good Wife; and the recurring role of Wendy Hunt in the HBO series Big Love. She also directed the feature film of Tennessee Williams' THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Evans, and Ellen Burstyn.




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