The Blue Light

Leni Riefenstahl was one of the most remarkable and controversial women artists of the 20th century. Dancer, actor, photographer and filmmaker, Riefenstahl caught the eye of Adolf Hitler with her prodigious first film: The Blue Light. A cinematic innovator, her choice to direct Triumph of the Will got her blacklisted as a filmmaker until her death in 2003 at 101, unrepentant and mostly forgotten.

In Ouchi’s play, Leni Riefenstahl, 100 years old, is in the office of a young female Hollywood Studio Executive. Leni's there to make a desperate pitch for her first feature film in fifty years. The young woman willing to meet her? Harder to say... A thought provoking contemplation on art, politics and the seduction of fascism and a theatrical examination of a woman who danced one perfect dance with the devil and changed the way films are made and viewed forever.

Parts:
2 F, 3 M

Running Length:
2 hours

Awards:
Chosen one of the top 5 new plays in 2007 in Canada by the Globe & Mail
Finalist for the 2008 City of Edmonton Book Prize (Edmonton)
Finalist for the 2008 Writers Guild of Alberta Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for New Drama (Alberta)
Winner of a 2006 Betty Award (Calgary) for Outstanding New Play
Nominated for 2006 Betty Awards for Outstanding Production, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor & Actress
Nominated for 2006 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards for Outstanding New Play, Production, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, Lights & Score
Nominated for a 2007 Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Best Actress
Honorable Mention in 2004 Alberta Playwriting Competition

Translations:
French by Michel Ouellette
Japanese by Toyoshi Yoshihara
Czech by Matous Turek
Russian by Galina Kolosova

Published by:
Playwrights Canada Press
Japan Stage Directors Association (in Japanese translation)

Production History:
Alberta Theatre Projects (Calgary, Canada) Premiere:
Starring Kate Hennig
With: Natascha Girgis, Duval Lang, Trevor Leigh and Rylan Wilkie
Directed by Ron Jenkins
Run: February to March 2006

Workshop West Theatre (Edmonton, Canada):
Starring Sandra M. Nicholls
With: April Banigan, Collin Doyle, John Kirkpatrick and Duval Lang
Directed by Ron Jenkins
Run: March 24-April 2, 2006

Firehall Arts Centre (Vancouver, Canada):
Starring Gabrielle Rose
With: Sean Devine, Doug Herbert, Jack Paterson and Daniela Vlaskalic
Directed by Donna Spencer
Run: January 5-27, 2007

DMV Collective (Halifax, Canada):
Starring Pamela Halstead
With: Brian Heighton, Duval Lang, Kate Lavender and Matthew Thomas Walker
Directed by Alan Dilworth
Run: Jan 16-17, 20-24, 2010

Keyano College (Fort McMurray, Canada):
Starring Laura Di Cicco
With: Misha Alberta, Damon Calderwood, Angelique Panther and Jon Lachlan Stewart
Directed by Andrea Boyd
Runs: April 22-25, 28-May 1, 2010

Readings:
2009 at the hotINK International Reading Series in New York
2009 in translation through the Centre des Artistes Dramatiques in Montreal
2007 at the Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Moscow
2005 at the Springboards New Play Festival at Workshop West Theatre in Edmonton
2004 at the On The Verge Festival at the National Arts Centre/Magnetic North in Calgary

Quotes from Reviews:
“The Blue Light…is a bold, complex piece of theatre.”
Kamal Al-Solaylee, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“Ouchi is equally at home in cinema and on the stage, so The Blue Light shines with a strong balance of theatre’s need for solid script and the alluring designs of the silver screen… Do artists have the right to ignore what’s going on around them? Since the question is as applicable in today’s blood-soaked world as it was on the eve of Hitler’s attempt at Armageddon, it’s well worth taking in a play that ambitiously attempts an answer.” Peter Birnie, The Vancouver Sun

“Art that settles in retrospect for disapproving of Nazism is a Deutschmark a dozen. Art that probes the sexual allure of fascism is a euro a gross. The Blue Light ventures further: it’s art that wonders about art unhinged from moral consequence. And further still, it dares to wonder if there isn’t a fascist aspect to art itself, and the artist’s intense all-consuming, tunnel vision of generating emotional response. Now that’s genuinely queasy. What does that make us, the ones who learn from the techniques of Triumph of the Will and reject the teacher?” Liz Nicholls, The Edmonton Journal

“The Blue Light does hit what it aims at: a catastrophically human story, and a portrait of a woman who fascinates as much as she reviles.” David Berry, Vue Weekly (Edmonton)

“Ouchi …displays her rich ear for language and, even more than before, an eye for narrative and cinematic detail.” Bob Clarke, The Calgary Herald

“The Blue Light is a play that will leave the viewer questioning the often-unacknowledged dark side of artistic experience. Experience isn’t everything; go deeper and ask just what you’re asked to believe.”
Eva Marie Clarke, SEE Magazine (Edmonton)

“ Mieko Ouchi’s The Blue Light tells the story of this remarkable woman. In a beautifully written play she not only presents a historic time in the evolution of cinematic documentary films, but also the moral dilemma of what is politically focused to influence public thinking, as opposed to a dramatically present public event… This will be one of the outstanding shows of 2007.”
Jane Penistan, reviewVancouver

“Director Alan Dilworth, showcased in Now Magazine’s 2008 list of Best of Toronto as “Best Emerging Director”... is thrilled to tackle Ouchi’s complex examination of personal choices and moral complexities. He says, ‘The Blue Light throws us into the moral and ethical labyrinth of Leni Riefenstahl's life. Leni is ‘Mother Courage as film-maker’ for the Twentieth Century.’ “
The Chronicle Herald (Halifax)

“There’s something paradoxically disturbing and satisfying about a play like The Blue Light that leaves you with as many questions as answers... The rapid cuts between Riefenstahl’s past and present-day scenes with a fictitious Hollywood executive (ably played by Kate Lavender) as well as the physical transposing of the scene after intermission cleverly give this play a cinematic feel. And while it raises questions about Riefenstahl’s culpability and the role of art in society it never presumes to give the answers, making this the first must-see play of 2010.” Kate Watson, The Coast (Halifax)