MACKENZIE KINTIGH; Arts & Culture Editor;

What if you found out that a relative had been living a secret double life for years? What if you found out that your relative was a filmmaker who made documentaries of Hitler during World War II? All these ideas are brought to life in the Pacific Lutheran University Theater Department’s production of “Aunt Raini.”


“Aunt Raini” is about Katherine, a New York art collector, who faces difficult times when her great-aunt comes to visit her. “The play is a fictional telling of Aunt Raini’s last days before she dies where she is going to leave all her artwork… to her grand-niece,” said director Tom Smith. “The niece has to figure out what to do with all that work, since it’s great art but also great art about hate.”

This will be the West Coast premiere of “Aunt Raini,” which was written by Smith. “The reason why I wanted to produce it was not because it was my play,” said Smith. “It was that it is a really good story to tell now, for both a college setting where it deals with issues that we deal with all the time, but also with things as recently as a couple months ago.”

The play is based on Leni Riefenstahl, who was a  German filmmaker in the early days of World War II. Riefenstahl had the chance to film two of Hitler’s conventions before he became the extreme dictator that people now know about.

“This time period is something she doesn’t really like to talk about because she feels like it’s really shadowed her life,” said Smith about how Riefenstahl felt regarding her association with the Nazi party. Riefenstahl would eventually live until she was 101 years old.

Something that is special about this production is that Smith selected two different casts. This gives more opportunities for students to act and to portray the show differently from the other cast.

“The productions are different. The costumes are different. The blocking is different. It’s been a really fascinating process to see two different groups of people approach the play in different ways,” Smith said about why this production is so special.

There are also many scenic elements of this production that bring a unique twist, such as how the crew will be using video projection to showcase for the audience the cinematic work of the character’s inspired by Riefenstahl.

“Aunt Raini” premiered Friday, Oct. 20 at Karen Hille Phillips Center in the Eastvold Auditorium. The show will run for two weekends.

All shows are at 7:30 p.m. except for the Oct. 29 matinee which will run at 2 p.m. The show is free with a student ID and $5 for non-students online. The show is free with a student ID. Non-students can buy tickets for $5 online, at the concierge or at the door.

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