Do you think that most fringe shows are utter rubbish? That you can write a better script? Well, here’s your chance! In #txtshow, if you don’t like the script, just blame yourself – you wrote it. Welcome to the dada reincarnation of 2021 – live on Zoom, where else?
#txtshow either sinks or swims depending on audience participation.
#txtshow is a crowdsourced, immersive performance, where your designated actor ‘txt’ recites live on Zoom whatever you and the other participants write in the chat box. The 45-minute show kicks off by ‘txt’ sitting down at a desk staring blankly at you. It’s time for some puppet master action! After some initial clumsy attempts at a conversation, the rules seem pretty clear. ‘txt’ would read out everything I wrote in chat – even a children’s poem in Finnish – but ignored requests to move. At least I couldn’t get ‘txt’ to twerk for me. Yes, I did try. No, I have no shame.
As can be expected, #txtshow either sinks or swims depending on audience participation. I attended the show on a quiet Monday night, so there wasn’t much going on – except my own contribution. Actually, it was highly amusing just to watch ‘txt’ slouch at his desk looking bored when I didn’t give him any impulses. After the show I thought of many hilarious things I could have made him read, so perhaps some prep is advisable. The show relies heavily on spontaneous ideas coming from the audience, so the dadaesque idea can only be achieved when a lot of people feed ‘txt’ nonsensical lines.
The screen name ‘txt’ belongs to Brian Feldman, the American fringe theatre performance artist. Feldman's performances can be best described as experimental time-based art, often making use of repetition and endurance. Some of his previous work includes leaping off of a ladder 366 times over 24 hours, marrying a stranger in support of marriage equality via a game of spin-the-bottle, hosting a weeklong read-a-thon on a library rooftop and performing Broadway musicals over the phone.
Brian Feldman is a born performer and a master of physical comedy. His emotions run from devastation to ecstasy, as he squeezes out the very last drop of meaning from every word he recites. If you want to get all philosophical, I guess the show is all about agency. If you’d have full control over someone’s expression, what would you make them say? And what would that say about you? In the end, the show reveals more about the people writing the lines than the performer delivering them.