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Good for the Jews?:
A Symposium of Scholars and Artists on Jewish Identity in American Theatre and Performance
Sara Felder

Sara Felder is a solo theater artist, playwright, humorist and juggling diva.  She ran away with San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus, was a featured act in Joel Grey’s Borscht Capades, toured Nicaragua and Cuba with the Women’s Circus and Jugglers for Peace and performed at Jewish/Yiddish festivals all over the world with the Klezmatics, Brave New World and the Klezmer Conservatory Band, to name a few.  She has taught juggling and performance in California’s prisons and half-way houses through the California Arts Council.  She recently opened for Joan Rivers at the Gershman Y in Philadelphia.

Felder’s body of work, including radical solo circus theater and witty multi-actor plays, explores serious themes in a form that is comic, engaging, vaudevillian. Part of a growing number of Jewish artists who seek to represent an authentically American Judaism, her work reflects her belief in a queer Yiddish culture that honors change even as it offers continuity to ancient traditions.  In her solo plays, Felder strives to integrate personal experiences with the urgency of this moment in history.  Her newest offering, “A Queer Divine,” about loss, grief and transitions, is performed in lobbies and waiting rooms.  “Melancholy, A Comedy” tackles mental illness through a look at the life of Abraham Lincoln.  “Out of Sight” uses the relationship between a blind mother and her adult daughter to examine invisibility, family loyalties and the Israel/Palestine conflict.  “Shtik,” an exploration of Yiddishkeyt, compares the lives of a cross-dressing turn-of-the-(nineteenth)-century vaudevillian with the life of a contemporary American performance artist.  “June Bride” tells the story of a traditional Jewish lesbian wedding.  In its hundreds of performances over the last 13 years, “June Bride” has become part of the grass-roots effort to keep same-sex marriage on the national agenda and has given audiences a way to talk about this controversial issues.

Felder applauds all the private and government foundations who continue to fund her work as an out queer Jewish theater artist.  She has earned funding from the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative who has supported has last three solo plays.  She has also garnered fellowships in performance from the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts and the Independence Foundation.  Felder also earned the Leeway Transformation Award for her commitment to art and social change.  She has been commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commision, the National Performance Network Creation Fund, and Intersection for the Arts.  She has also received additional support over the years from the Zellerbach Family Fund, Theatre Communications Group, Ford Foundation and Irvine Foundation.   Felder captured the California Arts Council playwriting fellowship and was a recipient of the America for the Arts “Animating Democracy Initiative,” where she used performance to inspire civic dialogue about same-sex couples in Anchorage, Alaska.

Felder lectures on Jewish humor and has taught classes in comedy at San Francisco State University, New College of California and Drexel University.  She also continues to teach her acclaimed workshop on solo performance, “Amusing the Muse.”  She currently lives in Oakland, CA with her partner Rabbi Dev Noily, and their son, actor and journalist, Jesse Lev.

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