The 1980s New York art scene is being resurrected in Peckham’s Bussey building, telling the stories of three rising stars. Harold Finley’s A thousand Miles of History, which was developed at Soho Theatre and New York’s Lincoln Centre Theatre, begins with teenage graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat moving from the streets of Manhattan into the galleries of Soho and launching a fine art career alongside Keith Haring who caught the art world’s attention through his subway drawings. The two artists then escalated to new heights after befriending pop art superstar Andy Warhol.
“It basically follows the emergence and explosion of the global New York art scene and the problems the artists have dealing with it,” says actor Adam Riches, who plays the legendary Andy Warhol.
“Andy Warhol is a key figure in that period. The 80s were incredibly decadent and full on and this is mirrored in some of the writing and scenes. There’s that real fall of Rome attitude where money goes crazy and these guys become like world stars,” he explains.
Taking on Warhol is understandably not for the faint-hearted, Adam says. “The art is just one facet of Warhol’s character,” he says. “He was an incredibly interesting guy with a fantastic sense of humour and he was super keen to control and manipulate his image.”
The 39-year-old also plays five smaller characters in the play, which he admits is quite a progression from his background in comedy; the comedian won Best Show at the 2011 Edinburgh Comedy awards and last month had his own comedy series The Guns of Adam Riches broadcasted on BBC Radio 4.
“Comedians desperately want to make people laugh but then after that all they want is to be taken seriously; this is a happy marriage between the two.”
A Thousand Miles of History is playing at the Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST, from March 4 until March 30. Admission: £14 / £10 concession. Phone: 0844 477 1000. http://www.clfartcafe.org