Arts Beat: Clean Slate
Performance artist Brian Feldman returns to Orlando to explore quirky adventures in dishwashing and leaving phone messages.
Fringe Festival and performance-art veteran Brian Feldman has done a lot of weird things to entertain people. He legally married a stranger (it was later annulled). He spent three hours in front of an audience trying to make himself cry. He ate dinner on stage with his own family more than three dozen times. He jumped off a ladder repeatedly on Feb. 29, 2008—366 times in 24 hours—to celebrate leap year.
Basically, he has thrown everything but the kitchen sink into his odd-artistry bag.
And now it’s in there, too.
Feldman, whose career began in Orlando, is currently living in Washington, D.C. But he is back in town this week as one of the performers of "Art in Odd Places,'' a free visual and performance art festival that will take place Sept. 17-20 along Magnolia Avenue between Anderson and Washington Streets. For his part in that festival, which will include dozens of other inventive street-corner performers, visitors can hand him their cell phones and have him call one of their contacts to leave a message of their choosing.
Weird, right? But not as weird as his most recent performing arts project: He goes to people’s houses, washes their dishes, and then performs a monologue, any monologue—again, one that is chosen by his audience. He charges 30 bucks a pop for the dishwashing gigs, which he has performed in 45 homes in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
He’s been a good dishwasher—chipped a wine glass once but that’s the only casualty. “And they didn’t care,” he says. “They were renting, and the dishes came along with the deal.”
As for the monologues, the strangest request Feldman has fielded so far was to read a commuter train schedule. He tries to put on a good show no matter what, and “that one was a challenge,” he says. He managed to ham it up by including clicks, clacks and whooshing train sounds and emulating a hollow, robotic, disinterested-working-stiff conductor voice. The most poignant monologue he’s done so far was a family’s request to read aloud a cherished collection of letters home that were sent years ago by a beloved family elder who was living in Paris.
While he is in Central Florida, Feldman will do four of the dishwashing performances. If you are interested, and if you live in Lake, Orange, Osceola or Seminole County, you can call to set it up at this number: 800-838-3006.
If you don’t catch him this time around, you’ll have another chance a few months from now. He plans on returning to Orlando on March 20, 2016, to perform Macbeth all by himself at the Lake Eola amphitheater. He’s dead serious about that. “It will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he says.
That date will mark the 25th anniversary of his debut in show business: He appeared in that same play, and at that same venue, as one of the three witches. “I was 10,” he says. “The idea was that I’d been kidnapped by the other two witches” and forced into a double-double, toil-and-trouble existence. Quite a career arc, no? To start off at a cauldron, and wind up at the kitchen sink?
Art in Odd Places, presented by the Downtown Arts District, presents its inaugural public visual and performance art festival, taking place Sept. 17-20 along Magnolia Avenue between Anderson and Washington Streets. Times for each day: 6-9 p.m. Sept. 17; 11 a.m. -9 p.m. Sept. 18 and 19; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 20. For more information: www.artinoddplaces.org/orlando/