Beauty Freak: Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia

Photography by Pablo Calderón Santiago



"Beauty Freak" is a new multi-media play exploring the complex and controversial life and legacy of the German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl was born in Germany and rose to prominence as a silent film actress. In the 1930s, she turned her astonishing talents as the pioneering female filmmaker of her time to the service of the Nazi regime. Her films, made in the 1930s, altered the course of modern cinema, but also immortalised and celebrated the murderous cult of Hitler and the Nazis. Though cleared by de-Nazification courts, she remained forever tarnished by her association with the Third Reich. 

The play explores the creation of art as propaganda and questions the culpability of the artist in how their work is consumed. This piece puts on stage the hatred and hypocrisy at the core of the regime, and places a magnifying glass over Riefensthal’s life. It reflects and informs the theme of “Against Separation” by considering the damaging impact of fascist aesthetics on social norms, rejecting the fetishsizing and commofidying of the “other” and by refusing to place people into artificially constructed categories of “good” and “evil.”



In September 2018, the play received a reading with German actors at the Schule für Schauspiel. Then, this piece was workshopped at Plaxall Gallery in LIC in November 2018.



Featuring Sam Hood Adrain, Tatiana Baccari, Abram Blau, Derya Celikkol, Devante Lawrence, Ana Cristina Da Silva, Portland Thomas, Leanne Velednitsky, Kayla Yee, and Tina Shepard

Directed by Coral Cohen

Written by James Clements
Production Design by Johanna Pan

Sound and Video Design by Jorge Morales Picó

Produced by What Will The Neighbors Say?