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Anti-social media: Play mocks Instagram addiction

Social stars: “Under The Influencer,” opening on Feb. 2, combines live performances with recorded video.
Brooklyn Paper
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This show is #amazing!

Put down your phone and indulge in an IRL (in real-life, noobs) experience this weekend, at an immersive show that takes on society’s obsession with social media. The co-writer and director of “Under the Influencer,” debuting in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Feb. 2, said he was inspired to create the satirical play after watching a video of someone promoting an ordinary bottle of water as if it were edible gold.

“We saw some video of some influencer selling the stupidest thing ever, talking about how profound and incredible this bottle of water she’s drinking is — this is begging to be made fun of,” said Dan Wender, who lives in Williamsburg and produced the show with record label the Umbrella. “We’re all so consumed by social media.”

The story follows an Instagram celebrity who gets into trouble — Wender said that revealing any more would give it all away — and the audience gets to experience his thrill, fear, and excitement while sitting inside of a rotating set that displays music videos above the live performers, making it a truly captivating experience, said Wender.

“We really love the format — it’s such a fun project and it was a unique set,” he said. “You experience the show from inside of the set, instead of looking into the set.”

The show also stars an actual so-called “influencer” from Refinery29, a web site that posts articles such as “Where You Should Travel in 2018, Based on Your Horoscope” and “Five Alternatives to this Sold-Out Lip Oil.” The site’s at-large fashion editor, Annie Georgia Greenberg, is perfect for the role because she knows how to make fun of herself, he said.

“We told her about it and she said, ‘Holy s--- that’s amazing, I need to be involved,’ ” said Wender. “I think she’s taking a very self-aware angle, she’s super down to make fun of herself and make fun of the whole thing.”

But playwrights Wender and Jordan Sarah are so entangled in a life of followers and favoriting that they cannot deactivate their social media accounts, said Wender.

“We can’t get off it,” he said. “We need it for work, need it to connect with our friends and family.”

Becoming a social media influencer can blur the line between selling a product and selling your soul, he said.

“We’re exploring when a normal human being just becomes a business, and that sort of transition,” said Wender. “We used to be so overt, used to know when you were watching an ad. Now you have no idea, we’re just trying to expose how ridiculous it is.”

“Under the Influencer” at Rinsed (80 Vernon Ave. between Marcy and Tompkins avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, www.rinsed.it). Feb. 2–3 at 8 pm and 10 pm. $15.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:49 pm, July 9, 2018
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