Interview with the Cast
In 1976, the artist Andy Warhol, having re-invented himself as 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 world beyond himself.
Run time: Approx. 70 minutes with no intermission
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In conjunction with this production, Northlight is collecting donations in support of the struggle for human rights in Iran. Read more.
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Production photos by Michael Brosilow
By Catey Sullivan
“Directed by Northlight Artistic Director BJ Jones, “Andy Warhol in Iran” transpires in a hotel room at the Royal Tehran Hilton but defies containment within those walls with a story that crosses continents and encompasses generations.”
Throughout the breathless one-act production (paced like a freight train in Jones’ astute direction), the action parses out impeccably timed revelations about Farhad and Warhol. It might sound like a stretch to find common ground between a rich, white celebrity artist and an Iranian revolutionary, but Askari makes it credible.
From his entrance wheeling a room-service tray, Dehghani creates a character you can’t look away from. It’s not just the bone-authenticity that radiates out whether Farhad is bullying Andy into submission or breaking down in tears at the losses in his own life. There’s a rare, ineffable alchemy when acting prowess and charisma merge into something unforgettable. That’s what Dehghani brings to the stage.
Lindley’s work is just as mesmerizing. His Warhol is understated, intricate and droll, although this is no celebrity impression. Warhol was ever a cypher, but Lindley makes the mystery both relatable and — even at the character’s most vacuous — empathetic.
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By Hedy Weiss
“If you see only one play this season, you are advised to head straight to Northlight Theatre for “Andy Warhol in Iran,” a riveting, brilliantly imagined two-character work written by Brent Askari (a prolific playwright and actor of Persian-American heritage) and ideally directed by BJ Jones.”
Watch Lindley in Warhol’s quintessential jeans and jacket, with glasses and a white-blonde wig (the work of Natalia Castilla), and you will easily believe you are in the presence of a perfect reincarnation of the artist. Then capture the tense but revealing nature of Farhad, a sophisticated, relatively young man who believes Warhol might be useful as a bargaining chip.
There is more, including a beautiful moment of poetry. But I will say nothing else aside from the fact that while I have never been the slightest fan of Warhol’s work, this play is a terrific portrait of the artist. And it should be seen.
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By Kerry Reid
“Askari’s play is a highly watchable and often quite funny piece.”
The messy nexus of celebrity, politics, and personal trauma forms the spine for Brent Askari’s speculative two-character play, Andy Warhol in Iran, now receiving a scintillating production at Northlight under BJ Jones’s direction. Of course, we know Warhol didn’t die in Iran. Instead, he died at 58 of complications from gallbladder surgery in 1987—a surgery made complicated by the earlier damage caused by Solanas’s bullet.
According to Taylor Mead, a writer and performer in Warhol’s films who was also quoted in Stein’s book: “Andy died when Valerie Solanas shot him. He’s just somebody to have at your dinner table now. Charming, but he’s the ghost of a genius. Just a walking ghost.”
That certainly feels like an apt description of Lindley’s Warhol at first. He enters through the audience, and tells us, “Oh hey, I don’t really like talking in public. I’d rather just sit and watch—like you.” Lindley, who rocks the artist’s famous silver wig (designed by Natalia Castilla) nails Warhol’s air of fey distraction, the affected manchild who, even after years as an art world superstar, seems starry-eyed himself about things like having dinner at the Ford White House (which is where he made the connection with the Shah and Empress in the first place).
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By Wendi Kromash
“The actors are terrific. This intense production will leave audiences thinking about actual events from 45 years ago, as well as current events involving police conduct, protests and what constitutes art.”
Lindley wears Warhol’s distinctive white silver wigs and clear eyeglass frames and mimics his vocal cadence and tone to breathe life into an icon of 20th century art and commercialism. He conveys Warhol’s obliviousness and greed as if they are natural traits rather than learned behaviors. To Warhol, this entire trip is about “bringing home the bacon.” He doesn’t care or hasn’t considered the ethical paradox of painting leaders connected to immoral regimes.
Dehghani fully embraces Farad’s raw emotion, dignity, idealism, anger, frustration and pain. His character is all tightly coiled pacing, constantly checking the windows facing the street to see if his compatriots have arrived to help him complete a planned kidnapping, and assuring Warhol that he would not be harmed as long as he follows Farad’s directions.
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By Chris Jones
“Complex and compelling.”
Richly articulated cultural history is enhanced by two honest performances and projections from Mike Tutaj that underpin Warhol’s musings on art and commerce, and also Farhad’s narration about the history of his beloved city, a place that has seen so many people and entities try and mold it in their preferred image.
PICKS IN SIX
By Ed Tracy
A “fictional confrontation between Warhol, masterfully interpreted in a brilliant performance by Rob Lindley, and a young radical named Farhad, played superbly by Hamid Dehghami.”
It is difficult to determine when the razor-sharp dialogue of Askari’s writing ends and the pinpoint pacing of Lindley’s seamless delivery begins. Given the show’s premise of a politically-motivated celebrity kidnapping, one might not imagine that the storyline would be deliciously layered with so many hilarious Warhol-esqe observations. To Lindley’s credit, he both feeds off of and into Dehghami’s frenetic obsession to further his group’s cause by way of Warhol’s fame. The cause of Farhad’s pain at the hands of Iran’s torturous and oppressive regime is very real. Askari’s script exploits Warhol’s astute and inquisitive nature to disarm his potential captor and Lindley skillfully knocks it out of the park.
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AROUND THE TOWN
By Alan Bresloff
“The entire production is flawless.”
The play is a trip into political history regarding Iran and that period of time. Both of these men are unique in their goals and political beliefs. They are very different, and yet, very much alike. There is some mystery to this story and I will never divulge the outcome as it must be watched from start to finish for it to truly make sense. This is probably one of the best 81 minutes of theater you can have.
By Rick McCain
“Andy Warhol in Iran by Brent Askari and directed by BJ Jones (also the Artistic Director at Northlight) brings a refreshing new look into Warhol’s life, opening his eyes to the political world he often chooses to avoid.”
ROB LINDLEY returns to the Northlight stage after appearing in Funnyman. Rob is also the proud director of last season’s Jeff Award-winning Songs for Nobodies. Other acting credits include: Monsieur André in the North American Tour of Phantom of the Opera; The Sound of Music (Marriott); Fun Home (Victory Gardens); Secret Garden, James Joyce’s The Dead, Angels in America, Caroline or Change, Wild Duck, Carousel (Court); Candide (Goodman); My Fair Lady (Asolo Rep); The Temperamentals (About Face); Bach at Leipzig (Writers), and Oh, Coward! (Writers – Jeff Award for Best Actor). Rob has numerous directing credits including the Off-Broadway production of 50 Shades!: The Musical Parody, many productions for Porchlight Music Theatre, and many gala concerts, most recently and notably “Yours, Stephen Sondheim” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia Festival. Thank you Northlight and BJ for giving me a place to be seen. This performance is dedicated to all of the queer icons like Andy who came before me and did their very best to do their very best. IG: @RobLindley
HAMID DEHGHANI is a director, playwright, actor, and currently the Artistic Fellow at Northlight. He was born and raised in Iran and considers Buraki-ye Olya his hometown. Select acting credits in Iran: Barren (Iran International Fadjr Theatre Festival); Afsooskhar, The Archbishop’s Ceiling (Khourshid Theatre); Equus (Farabi Hall- best acting award at IIFUT); Charlie (Molavi Theatre), Rhinocéros (University of Tehran); The Legend of Nimrooz (Fooladshahr Theatre). Select short film: Jade Farei (best short film at Tehran International Short Film Festival); Yek Bar Se; Occasion; Unbreakable Mirrors; Night Story Of The Boulevard; Who is Going All This Way; Monologue C473; and To Die in Place of Another One. Select directing: From the Environs of Milad, Sohrab’s Transgression (original scripts); A Moment of Silence, Eurydice, and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Northwestern). In 2020, he co-founded Grass Studio Theatre. He dedicates his performance to the brave people of Iran who are currently fighting for freedom in the first female-led revolution in history. “Woman, Life, Freedom.”
BJ JONES is in his 25th season as Artistic Director of Northlight. Mr. Jones is a two-time Joseph Jefferson Award Winning actor and a three-time nominated director. He’s directed the world premieres of Charm (Jeff Award Best New Play), The Outgoing Tide (Jeff Award Best New Play), White Guy on the Bus (Jeff Nominated Best New Play), Chapatti (Nominated Jeff Award Best New Play), Better Late, and Rounding Third. Notably, he has directed productions of Outside Mullingar, Grey Gardens, The Price, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. As a producer he has guided the three world premieres of The Christmas at Pemberley Trilogy (Jeff Award Best New Play), Shining Lives, The Last Five Years, and Studs Terkel’s ‘The Good War’. Additional directorial credits include Pitmen Painters (Timeline, Jeff Award Best Production); 100 Saints You Should Know (Steppenwolf); Glengarry Glen Ross (Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Suzi Bass nomination Best Director); The Lady with All the Answers (Cherry Lane, New York); Animal Crackers (Baltimore Center Stage); Three Musketeers, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing (Utah Shakespeare Festival), and four productions at the Galway International Arts Festival. As a performer, he has appeared at Northlight, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and other theatres throughout Chicago. Film/TV credits include The Fugitive, Body Double, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Early Edition, Cupid, and Turks, among others.
Todd has designed 28 productions for Steppenwolf. Broadway credits include August Osage County (Tony Award), The Motherfucker with the Hat (Tony nomination), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Of Mice and Men (Filmed by National Theatre Live), This is Our Youth and Fish in the Dark. Upcoming Broadway: Straight White Men. Off-Broadway credits include Red Light Winter (Barrow Street), Domesticated (Lincoln Center) and Qualms (Playwrights Horizons). Designer for six years for Big Apple Circus. International credits: August Osage County (London & Australia), The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Ireland), Nice Fish, (London). Regional includes: Goodman (artistic partner), Guthrie, Berkeley Rep and many others. Museum exhibitions include “Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition” and “The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes.” Awards include Olivier, Helen Hayes, Ovation, Garland, Jefferson, Bay Area Outer Critics Circle, and Michael Merritt. He is a professor at Northwestern University and a graduate of Yale Drama.
Northlight: The Mousetrap, You Can’t Take It With You, Charm, Faceless, The Mother of the Maid, Mansfield Park, How A Boy Falls. Regional: Dishwasher Dreams (Writers Theatre, Hartford Stage), Fahrenheit 451 (Indiana Repartory Theatre); Million Dollar Quartet Christmas (Evan Bernardin Productions, The Phoenix Theatre Company); Pride and Prejudice (Long Wharf Theatre); King of The Yees (Goodman Theatre, Kirk Douglas Theatre); Cambodian Rock Band (Victory Gardens Theater, City Theatre Company, Merrimack Repertory); The Who And The What (Milwaukee Rep); Animal Farm (Milwaukee Rep, Baltimore Center Stage); Other credits: Animal Farm, The Crucible, We Are Proud To Present…, The Constellations, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); An Issue Of Blood, The House That Will Not Stand, A Wonder In My Soul, If I Forget (Victory Gardens Theater); Smart People, A Doll’s House (Writers Theatre); Harvey, Titanic (Court Theatre). Affiliations: United Scenic Artists USA-829. Education: M.F.A. in Stage Design, Northwestern University.
Heather returns to Northlight where she previously designed You Can’t Take It With You, Mothers and Sons and Faceless. Ms. Gilbert’s lighting designs have been seen on many Chicago stages including Hypocrites, Goodman, Court, Steppenwolf, Steep, Victory Gardens, Remy Bumppo, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Writers, Timeline, About Face and countless storefronts. Regional credits include Oregon Shakespeare, American Repertory, Kansas City Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, Huntington, Williamstown, Alley, Berkeley Repertory and Actors Theatre of Louisville. International credits include Almeida in London and Singapore Repertory. Heather was a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Grant and the 3Arts Award. Heather serves as the Head of Lighting Design at Columbia College Chicago, and received her MFA at the Theatre School at DePaul. She is a member of The Hypocrites community.
Andre has designed the Broadway productions of Metamorphoses, I Am My Own Wife and 33 Variations (Drama Desk Award nomination) as well as the world premiere of The Clean House at Yale Repertory and Lincoln Center. Based in Chicago, his work has appeared on most of the city’s stages including Northlight (Shining Lives with Amanda Dehnert), Goodman, Steppenwolf, Court, and Lookingglass where he is an associate artist. He has composed music and designed sound for theaters around the U.S., most frequently at the Oregon and California Shakespeare Festivals, Berkeley Repertory, Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, Seattle Repertory, La Jolla Playhouse and Center Theater Group. Choral works include: Winesburg, Ohio,Eastland, Whitman, Undone (with Ben Sussman), and Paris By Night (with Amy Warren).
has designed projections and sound for theatre since 2002. In Chicago, his work has been seen on the stages of TimeLine, The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Victory Gardens, Court, American Theater Company, Teatro Vista, The Hypocrites, Silk Road Theatre Project, and many more. Off-Broadway and Regional credits include The York Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre Company, and Theatre Squared. Mike is an Artistic Associate with TimeLine Theatre Company and Company Member of Barrel of Monkeys Productions.
Rita is proud to be returning to Northlight for her 39th production, and delighted to be collaborating again with Cody Estle. Other favorite stage management projects include the recent hit The Luckiest at Raven Theatre, three years of The Polar Express Train Ride, seven seasons of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater, and productions at Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and Northlight’s productions of Chapatti and Stella & Lou in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to nine-year-old Charlie, and last year she celebrated her 20th anniversary as a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Thank you for supporting live theatre!
Forrest Gregor is thrilled to be making his Northlight debut! Recent design credits include: Tiger Style! (Writers Theatre), Campaigns, Inc. and The Chinese Lady (TimeLine Theatre); Eurydice, Top Girls, Peerless, Bajo Las Estrellas (DePaul University). Other credits include Sanctuaries: A New Jazz Chamber Opera (Assoc. designer/A2) at Third Angle New Music in Portland, OR where he is also an assistant audio engineer at Open Field Recording. Forrest is currently pursuing a BFA in Sound Design from The Theatre School at DePaul University where he will be graduating in June. Visit forrestgregor.com.
Wig and Make-up Designer
February 10 at 8:00 pm: ASL Interpreter and Open Captions
February 11 at 2:30 pm: Audio Descriptions and Open Captions
February 25 at 8:00pm: Open Captions
This guide holds many different accessibility tools to make your experience at our show as comfortable as possible. Please be aware that not every element of this guide will be useful to each individual, therefore, please feel free to pick and choose which accessibility tools would be most beneficial to you. The guide includes a synopsis of the show, sensory warnings, and photos of what to expect when you arrive at the theater.
View the Andy Warhol Sensory Guide.
For more information or questions about Captioning, ASL Interpretation, or Audio Description please contact Ruben Carrazana: 847.324.1615 or email@example.com.
Visit our Accessibility Page for more information for our whole season.