Blame it on Andy Warhol?
Playwright Ryan Raftery’s new stage show, “The Trial of Andy Warhol,” sees the late pop artist put on trial in the afterlife for laying the foundation for today’s obsession with social media and celebrity worship.
“What Warhol did with his work is make being famous more famous,” Raftery tells Variety. “He’s had such a huge hand in creating the world that we live in today, especially social media and reality television.”
Raftery previously focused on the likes of Andy Cohen and Martha Stewart; “The Trial of Andy Warhol” marks the sixth celebrity bio-musical he has written and starred in. Featuring parody songs set to the music of Taylor Swift, Madonna, Blondie and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the show opens Feb. 20 at Joe’s Pub in New York City.
“Warhol,” Raftery says, is inspired by “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Social Dilemma,” the 2020 Netflix documentary about the harmful effects of social media. If the artist were alive today, Raftery believes he would have been quite active on social media.
“I think he would have especially loved the ephemeral nature of fame,” Raftery says. “Andy Warhol knew how to pick out an interesting personality and how to use them to his advantage. Instagram, Facebook, TMZ — any sort of fascination that we have with celebrities or with being famous goes directly back to him.”
As for what corner of American pop culture to examine next, Raftery is looking to reality TV’s most popular family.
“I am leaning towards Kris Jenner, but I don’t know if I have the strength,” he says. “I’ve never seen a single episode of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’ and if I was going to portray the momager herself, I would have to watch all of it.”