MS. REBECCA SHEIR
While we're talking all things dramatic, all sorts of drama and comedy and hard to categorize unorthodox theatrical stuff is coming up in just a few weeks as part of the capital Fringe Festival and one of the shows that falls into that final category, you know, hard to categorize and unorthodox, is called BFF, short for best friends forever.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
It's a one-man show by a guy named Brian Feldman and breaking with thousands of years of theater tradition there's exactly one ticket for each performance. So what you do is you buy your ticket and just ahead of show time you go to the Fringe box office in Chinatown where you'll find a man holding a sign with your name on it. Recently on one steamy summer afternoon, that sign spelled out the name of "Metro Connection's" Emily Friedman.
MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN
That's it, E-M-I-L-Y. That's a nice sign.
MR. BRIAN FELDMAN
Thank you. I appreciate it.
I meet Brian Feldman at Fringe headquarters. When I called him a few days earlier he told me not to plan anything for these next couple of hours. So I didn't.
What do you want to do? What do you like doing?
What do I like doing? I like...
Within traditional theater settings, I am unaccustomed to showing up for a performance and offering suggestions for the plot. Turns out it's kind of hard to think of something cool to do right on the spot, and by cool, I mean cool.
I'm glad we picked the hottest day of the year to do this.
Do you have your Metro card?
Where do you want to go on the Metro?
Let's look at the map. What's, like, the coldest museum, the one that would have, like, a freezer exhibition or something? I think I have an idea.
We board an air-conditioned train car with no particular destination in mind. I take a seat and Brian sits down in the aisle next to me. Feldman moved here four months ago and though he's a fixture in Florida's performance art scene, BFF is his first show in D.C. Not that he's comfortable calling it a show.
I'm always loathe to say if it's a show or not. Like, obviously it's billed as a show, but I'm always trying to find a different word to explain it because I don't want people's expectations to be like, this wasn't a show, this was just, I don't even know what this is.
Back in Florida, he was a known quantity. His first major work, called "The Feldman Dynamic," had Brian and his family eating dinner on stage in front of a paying audience. Then there was that piece where he ate everything a restaurant offered on its menu.
And, you know, I finished one dish and they brought the next dish.
Another where he didn't watch a movie for an entire year, the year was 2006, in case you're curious. There was one in which he tried to cry for 3 hours, and then its sequel, in which he tried to smile for three hours. When a same-sex couple was refused a marriage license, he put out an open call to all Floridian women, went to city hall and married a complete stranger. And though he's done hundreds of performances, for his first in D.C. he says, why not try to get to know people at the same time?
It's almost like friend speed dating, like, you know, we have two hours. Should we be friends?
So like in a traditional performance, if you don't like it, you can leave in the middle?
Are you prepared for someone leaving in the middle of this piece?
Anything can happen, it would not surprise me in the least. Some people will possibly buy a ticket to the show, not really know what they're getting themselves into, and immediately be looking for an out. Be wanting to say, hey, can I get my money back? I didn't realize you were just going to hang. To which that might actually become what we do, me walking to the bank so I get cash to give them.
We've been talking nonstop for about 30 minutes and have evidently taken the Orange Line to Ballston.
Let's get off the train.
Brian leads us out of the Metro into an office building, through a mall, inside an elevator and up four levels.
I was just thinking it's so hot outside I want to look at a block of ice. I want to go skating.
We're at Kettler Capitals Cineplex in Arlington, Va. We attempt to rent skates, but the rink's not open to the public for a few hours. So we settle for the next best thing.
Maybe we can get ice pops? Do you have, like, ice pops?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ONE
Popsicle? What colors? What color do you want?
I would like the red one.
We take our popsicles and sit inside the rink watching the figure skaters glide over the ice. I didn't know we'd end up here. Brian says he kind of had an idea, but that what happens at BFF is pretty much a game time decision.
There's no plan. I mean, it's more about adventuring into the unknown and having a good time.
And for 50 brave souls, he says, willing to spend two hours with a total stranger, anything can happen. I'm Emily Friedman.
The Capital Fringe Festival runs July 12th through the 29th at various venues around town. To check out any of the 130 plus productions being offered this year, head to our website, metro connection. Org. Oh, and in case you're wondering whether Emily and Brian really did become friends, well, she says they've emailed and tweeted each other several times since their two hours as bffs. We'll see where it goes from there.
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