‘Chasing Andy Warhol’ on the Streets of the East Village
Andy Warhol seems to be having a moment these days; although many would say that his moment never stopped.
The Andy Warhol Diaries docuseries recently debuted on Netflix; the art exhibit “Andy Warhol: Revelation” is open at the Brooklyn Museum; a play about Warhol and Basquiat, “The Collaboration,” is currently happening at the Old Vic in London; and last but not least, we found ourselves “Chasing Andy Warhol” on the streets of the East Village last week at a press preview.
But I’ll get to that in a moment.
When I was a teenager growing up in New York City, it was easy to spot Warhol pretty much any night of the week at a club. Or, after last period in high school, one could head to Serendipity, or Fiorucci, pretty confident that you’d run into him there.
Despite having a reputation for being aloof, Warhol would usually talk (or rather, listen curiously) to overly enthusiastic teenagers like myself who would run up to him and tell him how much we loved his work. I continued to run into him and have conversations for many years until he passed away.
Warhol was known for being a mystery. He was both accessible and aloof. He was social, yet closed off.
So it makes sense that the people who were close to him often say that, even if you knew Andy, you never really knew him.
Mystery is a rare thing in our era of social media these days, and Andy would have loved this time of oversharing. But he remains enigmatic. Which is explored in a new immersive theater piece, “Chasing Andy Warhol.”
The performance, which was created and directed by Mara Lieberman of the Bated Breath Theater Company, is entirely outdoors. Utilizing dance, art, film, and puppetry, “Chasing Andy Warhol” takes to the streets in a wildly creative way.
Guiding us through many surreal scenes, the charming and enthusiastic actor Annika Rudolph plays a massive fan of Warhol’s. All the while, her character is trying to figure him out as well.
The audience continuously “chases” Warhol through a series of visually exciting and often thought-provoking vignettes. Those who are expecting a kitschy, campy version of Warhol will be in for a surprise. This is more of a surreal psychological study, although there are also some wry, exuberant, and fun moments.
The team at Bated Breath Theater Company (who brought us “Voyeur: The Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec,” the covid-safe outdoor theater piece last year) raises just as many questions about Warhol as they do answers. We think Warhol would have slyly approved of this.
As we were ushered down the orchestrated path, more than a few passers-by were trying to figure out what was going on. Some were eavesdropping, others were taking photos, and some were commenting loudly as they walked by.
And while much of the time, actors were popping in and out of various scenes, it was clear who was part of the performance. However, there was also a bit of audience participation, sometimes accidentally.
We were particularly entertained by a very enthusiastic delivery guy on a bicycle who, during a call and response scene, waved his arms in the air as he passed by, repeating our guided shouts of “MANIFESTO.” We all figured he had nothing to do with the performance. Or DID he???
Avid Warhol fans will recognize most of the inside references. But even if you haven’t inhaled every book, film, and exhibit about Warhol, even if you’ve never heard of the Factory or Edie Sedgwick, you’ll still have a great time. And you’ll be a fan afterwards.
Warhol is known for his prediction that “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” But after seeing the performance, you’ll realize that Warhol never stopped being famous.
“Chasing Andy Warhol” opened on April 8. You can find out more and get tickets here.