Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fiddler on the Phone

For two weeks this past spring, D.C.-based performance artist Brian Feldman was back in Orlando to celebrate 15 years of his performance based art with a series of new and returning projects. Brian did a series of performances while he was in Orlando. Brian did a series of performances while he was in Orlando. At one of the performances called Knives Out, Brian asked me if I knew of any pay phones in Central Florida where he could stage his new pay phone musical. Sounds crazy right? Pay phones are a dying breed in this digital world, but after searching for days, Brian did find one, only a few block from where he used to live in Orlando outside of the Sunco Gas station at the corner of Edgewater and Fairbanks.

Brain explained that, in the spirit of Fiddler on the Roof,  he would begin his performance right at sunset.  I was working on the Ivanhoe Brewery mural at the time. Pam Schwartz and I ordered some food from a food truck and it slowly became clear that the people inside were new to the job. My dish came out but Pam's was held up and people who had ordered before us were still waiting. She told me to drive up to the pay phone booth since the sun was quickly setting. Luckily Brain was a few minutes late as well which is actually rather a tradition when it comes to his perfomances.

The pay phone was at a 7-11 convenience store. Brian set up a music stand and several LED light strips inside the phone booth so he could see the script from Fiddler. His idea was to sing the entire show over the pay phone to people who had signed up in advance for a call. Pam had signed up for a call, but joined me as I went to the pay phone to sketch. This  is where the real theatrical magic happened, as noisy trucks and motorcycles buzzed by on the crowded roadway. This was the third time I sketched Brian at a gas station, and knowing him, I'm sure it will not be the last. Brian is infamously known for not having a car.

Several people didn't pick up their phones, perhaps forgetting they had signed up and thinking the call might be a telemarketer. Brian then called Pam, even though she was 10 feet away. We both could hear the performance live and she heard it from her cell phone, perhaps creating a unique stereo effect. Brian's performance was lighthearted and fun. He would read the parts for every character leading up to each musical number.

At the same time, the Broadway tour of Fiddler on the Roof was playing five miles away at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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