Northlight Theatre (9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie) is proud to present its latest production of the 2022-2023 season, Andy Warhol in Iran, directed by BJ Jones. The play runs January 19-February 19, 2023.
In 1976, the famous pop artist, Andy Warhol, having re-invented himself jas the portrait painter of the rich and famous, travels to Tehran to take Polaroids of the Shah of Iran’s wife. Amidst taking in the Crown Jewels and ordering room service caviar, Warhol encounters a young revolutionary who throws his plans into turmoil, and opens the pop icon’s eyes to a wider world.
“When I first read Andy Warhol in Iran, it had not yet been produced. My interest in producing this show was primarily due to my curiosity about Andy Warhol. He did, after all, coin the phrase, “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”— which does wonders for everyone’s sense of hope and self-image.
Since Andy’s time, the revolutionary events in Iran have changed the balance of the events in the play in an important and intriguing way,” says BJ Jones. “It has become a fascinating look at the history of political unrest in Iran and how it informs the current upheaval, led by women. It also reaffirms our own view of the dangers of theocracy to a democratic state.
The characters in Brent Askari’s piece, Andy Warhol and Farhad, are both revolutionaries: Andy, a disrupter as an artist, and Farhad, seeking to overthrow the Shah. These two revolutionaries meet and realize their deeper connections rather than their obvious differences.”
The cast of Andy Warhol in Iran includes: Rob Lindley (Andy) and Hamid Dehghani (Farhad).
The creative team includes Todd Rosenthal (Scenic Design), Izumi Inaba (Costume Design), Heather Gilbert (Lighting Design), Andre Pluess (Co-Sound Design), Forrest Gregor (Co-Sound Design), Mike Tutaj (Projection Design), and Jyreika Guest (Violence Coordinator). The stage manager is Rita Vreeland.
Andy Warhol in Iran is one of the best productions of theater that I have seen in the past year. The story and script are meaningful and still relevant today. The two man cast give emotionally, powerful performances, leaving you mesmerized for the entire 70 minute duration of the play.
Lindley as Andy Warhol is believable as the famous pop artist, adding an impressive, yet convincing take on the controversial artist. The character he plays is portrayed as witty, odd and a bit self-absorbed.
Farhad, the antagonist, is intense, serious and passionate. Dehgani’s portrayal of Farhad is exquisitely haunting. His character is serious, yet intensely passionate. Though the two men come from completely different backgrounds, they are brought together and connected by unexpected circumstances.
The set design is simple and well done, showing off the richness of well to do hotels in 1970s Iran. Also striking are the videos and images of Warhol’s photographed models and projected images of past and present conflict in Iran.
Throughout the play, both characters give monologues outside the various dialogue scenes, which provide the audience a deeper insight into the characters’ lives, as well as relevant information about the political climate of the time.
Something else that adds to the mysterious and haunting nature of the play is like Waiting for Godot – the Shah of Iran and his wife are mentioned several times throughout the script, yet the two characters are never onstage in the flesh. The story simply focuses on Warhol being held hostage and his captor, including a focus on each character’s perspective of the events unraveling.
The tension between the two characters gradually eases over the course of the play as they learn about one another’s injustices they have endured. The hostile situation eventually evolves into a shared catharsis because of what they discover about each other.
Warhol actually did travel to Iran in 1976 to take photos of the shah’s wife and paint her portrait. However, this play is a fictional tale that brings together two of the most unlikely individuals in a fancy hotel room, setting forth a set of events that neither could predict.
On a universal level, the story serves as an allegory. Even if people come from vastly different cultural backgrounds and parts of the world, it is quite likely that if you look just below the surface, you will find some common ground.
Photos: Michael Brosilow
Regular run: $30-$89
Student tickets are $15, any performance (subject to availability)
For tickets, call the box office at 847.673.6300 or visit the Northlight Theater website.
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