Page 34                                            Spring 1995

Felder's New Show Creates Empathy For Modern-Day Traditions

A review of "June Bride" at the Out North Theatre in Anchorage, Alaska

By Jim Kerr


Tradition meets juggling. Juggling meets lesbianism. Lesbianism meets tradition.

Tradition meets reality. Meet Sara Felder.


Sara bills herself as a "juggling monologist." She has been juggling ever since meeting Edward Jackman in an honors math class while attending UCLA and taking a juggling lesson from him. At the time her perception of jugglers was skewed by the likes of her teacher and his friends (such as Peter Davison), who could all juggle seven balls. She thought that was what all jugglers did.


Although now Sara does some impressive juggling, she uses it mainly to tell a story, as opposed to juggling as an end in of itself. The monologue is the thread that weaves the "June Bride" story together. However, it's the juggling that pulls the threads taught, that keeps the story engaging and demands your attention. Sara has up to now let the words come after the juggling. In "June Bride," however, words come first and the juggling next.

"June Bride" tells the story - with assorted juggling props, a violin, a straitjacket and a modest but very effective set design - of Sara's courtship and marriage to her partner, Dev.


Sara establishes herself as a juggler and lesbian with two routines. First a brief shtick in which she puts on lipstick without a mirror and explains how she would rather be at the "Lesbians for Lipstick" meeting. Next is a delightful ball juggling performance during which Sara explains the problems associated with being a juggler and how jugglers are so different. Fortunately for her she discovered San Francisco where people juggle openly in the public without fear of who they are. Despite the more tolerant attitude of people there she still has fears of persecution. The routine is, of course, a clever allegory to lesbianism.


Thus, with a basic three ball routine Sara has raised the consciousness of her audience concerning lesbianism and at the same time charmed and entertained them.


The use of objects play a large role in crafting Sara's piece. Her set design is composed of props hanging quite naturally from two walls covered with cloth. Between the two walls hangs the chuppa, a canopy under which Jewish weddings take place. Her access to the props is natural and the props were quite aesthetically arranged in Out Nor1h's small theater. I might add that the coziness of the theater contributed greatly to the impact of the show in two significant ways: you could hear her unamplified voice quite well; and you could see her visual work up close. There was little toss juggling in the show. Sara attempts to milk character and even dialog out of the tools of her trade. For example, to symbolize tradition she uses a violin, which she holds upside down and talks to about various dilemmas throughout her story. It is easy to see the similarities between an upside-down violin and the face of an elderly traditional Jewish man. Eventually she does balance the "old man" (the violin) on her chin.


Songwriters write love songs all the time. Why don't jugglers write love juggling pieces? Sara uses graceful contact juggling and poetry to express her love for Dev. I don't know if she is the first to create such a wonderful concept, but I hope. she's not the last. A love performance piece - A love juggling piece? A love­contact-juggling piece? Whatever it is, I wish I had thought of it first!


Poetry meets circumcision when Sara juggles three knives and recites a poem on the Jewish tradition of circumcision. Here again, an appropriate selection of props keep the piece from getting too heavy - and the audience certainly got the point (pun intended).


Sara uses juggling and charm to take her story to people who would otherwise have very little interest in it. After attending the show I felt that I had learned a great deal about the Jewish culture and lesbianism from a very day-to-day perspective. It is this kind of perspective that inspires empathy between cultures and peoples. In this respect her juggling has made "June Bride" accessible to the general populace.


Sara Felder will present "June Bride" May 10 at the Womens Theatre Festival in Philadelphia at the Ashkenaze Festival of Yiddish Culture in Toronto; and July 14-15 at the Mad River Summer Festival in Blue Lake, Calif..

Felder tells a story of courtship in a straightjacket (Photo by Gene Dugan, Out North Theatre)

Felder tells a story of courtship in a straightjacket (Photo by Gene Dugan, Out North Theatre)

Felder's performance balances traditional skills and a modern love story (Photo by Gene Dugan, Out North Theatre)

Felder's performance balances traditional skills and a modern love story (Photo by Gene Dugan, Out North Theatre)

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