Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sara Felder at Dell'Arte

I just saw Sara Felder's show, Out of Sight in the Carlo Theatre at Dell'Arte, the Friday night performance. It's as she says in the mini-interview below, a comedy with content. Although the show is still "in process", it's already got a symmetry and an impact. And she sure can juggle! There's wit and emotion, and an audience-friendly ninety minute running time. Everybody had a good time tonight.

She's obviously a veteran performer, present with a presence, and tonight's audience was totally present and on top of things as well. Not just with laughter and gasps at the juggling, which is balletically lovely at times as well as wondrously skilled, but with audible responses to her words, sometimes simply in recognizing the metaphors and symmetries of the piece.

I was fortunate enough to sit beside a couple of brothers (I assume) of grade school age, wearing red hockey shirts. One of them exclaimed each time he got a passing reference in the shadow play--he recognized the one eye over the other joke about modern art--"Picasso!" And when the chicken warned the sky was falling, "that's Chicken Little!" "There's a Greek myth about flying too close to the sun!" Smart kid, smart audience. Good time.

I had emailed Sara Felder some questions for my Stage Matters column in the North Coast Journal, but she's been on tour and didn't get back to me until after the paper had gone to press. Bob Doran posted this at his Humblog, but I thought I'd post it here as well.

What's your show about? What will we see?

Out of Sight is a vaudevillian's attempt to understand both her mother and the Israel/Palestine crisis. To do so, she revisits how her mother became blind -- by staring at a solar eclipse as a child -- and her own visit to Israel in the 80's. It's a comedy with content.

When did you write this show? Is this the first performance?

Out of Sight was commissioned by the National Performance Network and premiered in Spring 2006 at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia. It has since been performed at the WomenSpeak Festival in Harrisburg, PA. This is its third venue. It usually takes me about a year of touring before the show settles in, so I very much consider these performances in Blue Lake as part of my process of creating the show.

What's your background? Where are you from, etc?

I'm from a little shtetl in Brooklyn called Brighton Beach. I lived in San Francisco for 20 years before my partner got in the crazy notion to go to rabbi school. We moved, with our son, to Philadelphia three years ago and are counting the days (many) till we can return to the holy land of San Francisco. Or somewhere relatively close to San Francisco. Or at least in the same time zone.

Prior relationship to Dell'Arte or the North Coast?

Arcata was a favorite stop of the Pickle Family Circus when I was with them in the early '80s.
I also brought my solo play, "June Bride: the story of a traditional Jewish lesbian wedding" to the Mad River Festival in, gosh what year was that? (8 years ago or so??). Then I brought my next show here too: "Shtik: a queer play on Jewish vaudeville" about 4 years ago. It's wonderful here. I love Dell'Arte, the redwoods, the bagels.

Where did you learn to juggle? How much is that part of your show here?

I learned to juggle in college at U.C.L.A. in the late 70's. Juggling is my best voice in theater work. I love using objects and circus in metaphorical ways. In this show there is mucho mucho mucho juggling. In fact, the whole show is a balancing act between trying to understand "my mother's Israel" which was created to protect Jews from antisemitism and the tragic consequences of creating a country in a place inhabited by a native population. Yes, there's three ball (actually three lemon) juggling, contact juggling, glow-in-the-dark juggling, devil sticks, scarves and knives. And for the first time, I also do a bit of shadow puppets to tell the story of my mother's blindness - shadows to tell the story of shadows.

Out of Sight continues with shows at 2pm and 8pm Saturday July 8 and 8pm Sunday July 9 at Dell'Arte in Blue Lake.