Sara Felder is a juggling diva, humorist, playwright and solo theater artist. She has toured with San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus, Joel Grey’s “Borscht Capades,” the Jugglers for Peace tour of Cuba and at festivals of Jewish culture all over the world. Her new show, “Out of Sight,” about social justice and family loyalty, opens at The Marsh on Saturday.
Who had the biggest influence on you in your life?
This one’s easy. My mom. She was legally blind, had a difficult marriage, worked full-time as a dictaphone typist in a hospital and fiercely loved the theater and her children, possibly in that order. She taught me to check the stove before I leave the apartment and to enjoy life’s “moments.”
To whom or to what do you turn in tough times?
I’m a big advocate of complaining, crying and writing. But when things get really tough, I go to the opera. Sometimes I think I go to the opera like other people look at stars: to feel small and be in awe of all the beauty. I also have good friends, a great partner, a bit of faith and a stash of 3 Musketeers bars. It’s funny; we just made these T-shirts for the show that say: “When life hands you lemons, juggle.” So I guess I do that, too — try to find some meaning, even some humor, and try to juggle through the pain.
Where do you find inspiration?
Nature, specifically Lands End — I love that place. And looking at art that I don’t necessarily understand but that really grabs me. And people, in their beautiful, crazed creativity with all their flaws and foibles, giving new spins on old ideas. And music, silence, breath. Breath, the original inspiration.
What one book or piece of writing has had a large impact on you?
When I was working as a temp typist, one day I was typing up a document that included this Chinese proverb: “If you don’t change direction, you will probably end up where you are headed.” I quit pretty soon after that and auditioned for the Pickle Family Circus. I also carried around Julian Beck’s “The Life of the Theatre” and Patti Smith’s “Babel” for about 20 years.
How would you describe the kind of performance you do?
I use juggling, humor, circus and characters in the service of a significant narrative and serious themes. Many of my plays are about the noble balancing act of being Jewish, queer and American.
How would you describe “Out of Sight”?
“Out of Sight” is a funny, tender and complicated look at how an American Jewish family — a nearly blind, opera-loving mother and her adult lesbian daughter — is affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It traces how both the mother and daughter grew up and their feelings about Israel. When the daughter spends her junior year of college in Israel, she begins to question the framework that she was raised with. The story of her mother’s loss of vision [told through shadow puppets] and her own loss of idealism come to a head when she confronts her mother.
What can people expect?
Well, lemons abound, a wall will be balanced — or will it? — and there will be knives.